LCN spoke to Charles Foulkes, branch manager for Spa Brokers which specialises in insurance for the textile care industry.

He confirmed the situation. The insurance market was going through a period when the insurers called the shots and in general the market is suffering.

This is due to factors such as September 11; changes in legislation, in particular employer liability; the trend to no win, no fee cases; an increase in weather related claims; and stock market falls which limited insurers’ returns on investments.

But launderers had tended to suffer more problems with their insurance, said Mr Foulkes, as they have an above average exposure to employer liability and were considered a higher fire risk.

For these reasons they were already looking for cover in a narrow market, but this had got even narrower over the last few months.

This year, he believed, the smallest increase would have been around 20% and many companies would have seen premiums double.

However, Mr Foulkes stressed that, despite the difficulties, “we have worked very hard to get the best deal for each individual client”.

TSA chief executive, Murray Simpson said that anecdotal evidence showed that the laundry industry was suffering.

Members around the country were reporting very steep rises even when they have had a good track record with regard to claims.

The TSA’s advice was as ever to shop around, and it would direct members to its official insurer.