Understanding Bouncy Castle Insurance What You Need To Know

Inflatable leisure equipment and bouncy castles have become extremely popular and are a usual addition to the activities offered at children's parties, functions, events and festivals up and down the country. The first bouncy castle was actually an inflatable structure created in 1959 by John Scurlock, he was experimenting with inflatable covers when he noticed his staff enjoying bouncing around on the covers and so the idea was born. In the last few decades, inflatable equipment has become a very diverse and popular form of entertainment.

Unfortunately, with the rise of their popularity, there is also a downside and that is the number of accidents involving these inflatables. There has been a significant increase in the last 2 decades of freak accidents that have badly injured or in some cases even killed participants and of course, when this happens it's widely publicised by the media. In turn, this has left many parents dubious of their suitability.

As with anything, the safety features and procedures have gotten better but even so, equipment used should be age appropriate, regularly tested and should always have keen adult supervision and even with all this in place accidents can still happen.

Most people when given a choice will always let price determine who they will hire a bouncy castle from. If you were planning a bouncy castle for your child's birthday party and one firm offers an inflatable for £40 per day and another suggests £70 a day most people will straight away choose the cheaper option. Have you ever heard the term false economy? Well, in the case of bouncy castles and hiring one cheap often has unseeable drawbacks, those drawbacks could lead to costs much greater in the long run. Let me put it another way if you were told you have to jump from a plane using a parachute and were given the choice between a cheap parachute and the expensive one which would you choose? Most people in that situation would choose quality over price and that's an important point when hiring any equipment.

Industry experts all agree that the current market isn't regulated strictly enough and there are far too many cowboy firms out there with very little concern for you or yours' safety. Having the correct insurance in place is costly and this cost will be reflected in the price offered to you when you hire a castle. Some business owners won't even bother getting insurance and therefore when you ring them up and ask for the rate as long as the price is right you don't put much other thought into it.

What many parents do not understand is even if a firm has public liability insurance, often referred to as bouncy castle insurance, and you hire a castle for your home most of the liability now falls on your shoulders and not the hire firm's, as long as they set up the equipment correctly and the bouncy castle is suitable and they have given you the essential safety brief the liability for people's safety is now squarely planted on your shoulders. That was the case for Timothy and Catherine Perry, they were holding a tenth birthday party for their triplets, an accident happened and a young boy Sam Harris was left brain damaged after an older and bigger child clashed on the castle. The Perry's were sued and the courts found that they had not supervised the castle activities correctly and were, therefore, liable and were ordered to pay compensation with an initial payout of £100,000 pound whilst the total amount was decided.

This is a rare incident but a company that is willing to pay their insurance is more likely to make sure the equipment and you are all adequately suitable for home rental. Where public liability is essential for most hire firms is when they are wholly responsible such as at an event or show. The business owner in these cases is present and therefore the liability for participants safety falls squarely on the business' shoulders. Most organised events will require a certain level of public liability cover before even hiring a firm and their equipment and this is where insurance really provides adequate protection.

What does Public Liability Insurance Cover?

Public liability insurance covers against financial loss against a claim being made when damage, injury or death is caused to a third party by the insured. Often public liability comes with extra cover options such as legal cover to help pay the costs of defending a claim or business interruption, of course, it's always best to speak to an adviser or broker about what cover you need.

When is Employers' Liability is a legal requirement?

If you hire anyone paid or unpaid, long-term or temporary you are required by law to have employers' liability in place and you could face charges of over £2000 a day if found not to have it when you have employees. There are of course some exceptions to this rule such as hiring only family members, but even in that case, it is still a good idea to have the cover in place.

So as parents worry less about the cost and spend some time researching the firm you plan on choosing to hire inflatable equipment from. Cost should be secondary especially when your child's safety is of concern, which it should be for most parents.

You can find out more information on bouncy castles and safety on the BIHA website and ROSPA also has a very good page on leisure equipment safety.

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