Insurance takes the wind out of playground attraction

August 16, 2023
Jane Louise

Insurers have delivered a blow to holiday parks as they now refuse to underwrite injury risk on ‘jumping pillows’, an outdoor entertainment playground staple for children across the country.

Jumping pillows grew out of the public’s love of trampolines in the early 1980s, and first made their appearance in Australia back in 2003.

Now, insurers are unwilling to cover this type of playground equipment across Australia, an impact largely falling on the shoulders of small holiday park operators, where the loss is especially felt in small communities.

One affected company was Alice Spring’s Club Eastside, which lost coverage of its major playground drawcard after six years. They contacted a further twenty insurance companies, all responding with the same refusal.

A local parents’ resource centre spokesperson Adrienne Bogard commented that the loss of the jumping pillow was devastating for their community.

Club Eastside general manager Josh Brigham advised that following his efforts, his hands were tied. He recognised community frustration and has asked the community for feedback on a replacement for the space.

The removal of jumping pillows has been occurring across Australia, with public outcry around an increasingly risk-adverse society as well as the rise of bogus claims.

Chief Executive Officer Robyn Monro Miller of Play Australia, a peak body which advocates for the rights of children to play, points out that while children are vulnerable and should be supervised on correctly risk-assessed equipment, Play Australia was also concerned that removal of play equipment due to insurer’s ‘blanket rules’ could undermine children’s natural development.

The insurance coverage issues faced by operators appears to largely be due to a change in the insurance industry’s assessment of liability risks.

The Victorian Caravan Parks Association (VicParks) has called for an intervention from state and federal governments on ‘slip and trip matters’.

VicParks is also concerned with the wider issues that could come about as insurance coverage becomes increasingly harder to come by.

With the lack of equipment coverage as well as impacts from weather events, premiums will continue to soar as more large insurance companies remove themselves from the caravan insurance market, impacting the holiday industry further.

It was also noted that larger operators such as BIG4 Holiday Parks, who oversee more than 100 facilities, have been shown to be less affected than smaller operations.

This is due in part to their increased ability to manage insurance challenges.

BIG4 chief executive Sean Jenner stated that while only a few of their parks had removed their jumping pillows, responses from insurers tended to be inconsistent and unclear.

Mr Jenner believed this was due to insurance being underwritten offshore, where there might not be the understanding of Australian holiday park experiences or what a jumping pillow even is.

Smaller jumping pillow manufacturer ‘Kangaroo Jumper’ states that their product, while similar to Jumping Pillows, has never been the subject of an insurance liability claim.

Kangaroo Jumper states this is due to its focus on safety designs as well as implementing strategies such as video cameras, which help avoid false claims.

Meanwhile, IAG, the top general insurer in Australia, is one company removing coverage.

An IAG statement advised that the key risks were injuries from “playgrounds, pools, trampolines and bouncy pillows”.

“These high-risk factors mean we only currently provide insurance for caravan parks in very limited circumstances,” the statement read.

BIG4 Holiday Parks are working closely with industry and government to try to better educate insurers.

Image: Tim Davies

Tags

Insurance, Jumping pillows, outdoor entertainment, playground


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