AS the year turns, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for point-to-points with news of a new insurance deal close to being agreed.
In recent months a large number of hunts have struggled to get their insurance policies renewed as companies leave the market.
This in turn places a major doubt over each hunt’s point-to-point as those racedays are insured as an addition to the hunting policy.
It is believed that a couple of multi-million euro claims arising from serious hunting accidents in recent years has prompted underwriters in London to reassess the profitability of insuring hunt clubs, with the result that they have withdrawn from the market.
By good fortune, the majority of hunts in the Cork and Waterford region and in Northern Ireland hold policies which do not expire until the end of the current point-to-point season. However, virtually all other hunts across Munster, Leinster and Connacht have either no cover or are on the verge of seeing their insurance run out.
However, in recent weeks efforts have intensified to agree a new deal which would limit the exposure of insurance companies while giving sufficient cover to hunting participants and, by extension, ensuring the survival of point-to-points which rely on hunt club volunteers to run them efficiently and without pay.
An insurance industry expert told The Irish Field: “There is a solution on the table. It involves the hunt clubs coming together to establish a €1 million fund which will be held by the insurance company. If 100 hunt clubs participated it would mean each one has to stump up €10,000 but, in reality, no more than 50 or 60 hunt clubs are in a strong enough position to find that money and so the contribution could be closer to €20,000 each.
“That is a once-off payment but, on top of that, each hunt will have to pay a higher annual insurance premium – possibly between €5,000 and €10,000 – and there will be conditions around how much can be claimed for injuries.”
The Irish Field understands that at least two private individuals who are strong hunting supporters - one in Cork and one in Dublin - have offered to contribute towards the fund.
In a statement issued to Irish Horse World shortly before Christmas, the chairman of the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association [IMFHA], David Lalor said: “The combined committees of IMFHA and IMHA, are pleased to confirm that we hope to launch The National Hunt Steeplechase Point-to-Point and Field Sports Insurance Programme in early January.
“We are just overcoming the final hurdle and we will be in touch with all interested parties between Christmas and the New Year. A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes in respect of this development and has been complicated by the fact that there is no common renewal date, Brexit, Covid, and other issues.
“We thank you for your patience in this matter. We will issue a further update in the first week in January.”