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Bounce business deflated - by PAT FRANKLIN

Bouncy castles may be punctured by the insurance crisis.

Bouncy castles may be punctured by the insurance crisis.

Killjoy underwriters may consign the blow-up fun of children's parties to the dustbin of history.

Paul Widdowson, whose Sandhurst business hires out inflatables for parties and events, fears that insurance hikes will burst his balloon and that his premium will be more inflated than his castles when he renews in April. He said only one or two underwriters were willing to insure his type of business.

Currently Widdowson Enterprises in Branksomehill Road has a £1 million public liability policy and pays £3,300 a year to cover 40 inflatables. As well as bouncy castles, there are sumo suits, mega slides, rodeo bulls and other types of entertainment equipment.

A new item is the bungee run, in which a rope is attached to someone who runs as far as they can before being yanked back.

Mr Widdowson hires inflatables out for events like the Army Show and the police SNAP discos at Prince's Hall, Aldershot, and said he has never had a claim against his insurance policy.

He is a member of the British Inflatable Hirers' Association (BIHA), which has 440 member firms throughout the country. "We're responsible hirers and supervise the units," he said, but despite that, premiums are set to go through the roof.

BIHA blames the insurance crisis on some "no win no fee" solicitors who they say actively encourage the public to pursue exaggerated claims and then charge exorbitant legal fees. They are lobbying Parliament for a change in the law.

RecentlyMr Widdowson was involved in setting up the Human Table Football event in Farnborough for the BBC. It was planned to film the stunt in Queensmead, but the highways department said that as it was a public thoroughfare, the firm would need £10 million of insurance cover. In the end the filming was done on private land.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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