Oz Buggy Tours, like thousands of adventure tourism operators across Australia, are facing imminent closure as insurers are refusing to provide public liability insurance. With your local tourism industry in jeopardy, read on to discover what’s at stake and what you can do to help.
Australians and adventure tourism go together like Vegemite and toast.
Whether it’s the rush of a jet boat on the water or rolling through the mud on a guided 4x4 buggy tour, hitting the great outdoors is a past-time millions of Aussies love.
But facing an industry-wide insurance coverage issue, this love of action-adventure activities may be on the verge of changing forever.
While tour operators, like Oz Buggy Tours, have provided safe, family-friendly activities backed with peace of mind public liability insurance, underwriters within a risk-averse global insurance market are pulling their coverage and leaving local operators high and dry.
Without immediate action, your favourite adventure activities are at risk of shutting up shop, for good.
Why Australia’s adventure tourism industry is at threat
Put simply, all tourism operators require insurance coverage to protect themselves and their customers in the event of accidents, injuries, damage, etc.
The same way you insure your car before you head out onto the road, or insure your home and contents to protect what you’ve worked hard to build. Unfortunately, the insurance landscape of Australia’s adventure sports industry has recently been shaken up, and without action the industry could die off within months.
It’s looking increasingly likely that COVID-19 has made global insurance markets more aware of risk. With a sharper focus on risk management, adventure tourism operators are lumped in the same boat and considered too “high risk” to insure (despite impeccable safety records and decades of safe service).
Insurance coverage is still readily available, however, the public liability market is tightening as fewer insurance companies are underwriting adventure-based activities perceived to come with higher risk.
While insurance companies aren’t charities and look for avenues to tighten their risk-management processes, Australia’s adventure tourism industry has been unfairly targeted.
Despite offering exceptional safety standards and providing buggy services across a 25 year span without a single liability claim, our business and thousands of other adventure-driven companies face closure when their current policies expire.
Without insurance, we can’t operate.
What’s at stake for your favourite tour operators
Australia’s $60.8 billion tourism industry faces a significant hit, with the collapse of hundreds of adventure tourism operators, unless Government assistance is provided.
As insurers pull public liability options, adventure tourism industries are left with no options. There’s no creative workaround or quick fix - without insurance coverage, businesses are not able to run.
This means the next time you’ve got the urge to jump on a quad bike and tackle an off-road trail, or book an adventure tour with your friends and family, you’ll have no options in front of you.
The longer this situation remains unresolved, the more businesses will fail.
What you can do to help
To be clear, this isn’t a problem that you need to be solving.
As someone who loves hitting the great outdoors and supporting Australia’s adventure tourism industry (whether you’ve enjoyed the challenge of our own off road buggy tours or not), you shouldn’t have to worry whether your favourite tour operators will still be in business 3, 6 or 12 months from now.
Government needs to provide a framework to protect this key component of Australia’s billion dollar tourism industry. A systematic change is necessary to help support adventure tourism operators in all states and territories.
Your voice is powerful, so if you love your local tour options and want to enjoy action, adventure and adrenaline on your terms, make your voice heard by your local government representatives.
Are there any examples of Governments protecting their adventure tourism industries?
Thankfully, there are versions of this insurance issue that have a happy ending.
New Zealand's adventure tourism industry (which is world renowned) exists within a universal no-fault public indemnity insurance system.
What does this mean? Well, under this system, employers, businesses and tour operators pay public levies into the Accident Compensation Corporation, calculated to reflect their individual level of risk.
Think of this as similar to your yearly Medicare costs that go towards cover for all Australians.
In the case of New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry, the scheme covers all stakeholders in the event of an accident. It doesn’t matter if a personal injury occurs by slipping on a patch of water at home, or pulling a muscle screaming with joy while bungee jumping, everyone’s levy covers the insurance and no one is left out in the cold.
What happens next...
The current situation is deeply concerning, not just for customers who look forward to their weekend adventures and yearly holiday activities, but for tour operators who run motorised land and water-based tourism activities.
With fewer and fewer options in the insurance market - both in Australia and the offshore marketplace - there is a real risk of thousands of businesses closing...and closing for good.
As public liability insurance becomes harder to obtain, adventure and recreational tourism - your favourite quad bike tours, jet boat operators and even caravan parks - may disappear for good.
Oz Buggy is proud to stand with fellow adventure-tourism operators across Australia and joins the call for change to ensure Aussies can enjoy their favourite adventure experiences safely for many years to come.