A long-established local business which employs 16 people is facing possible closure due to a massive increase of more than 400% in the cost of its insurance premium.
Martin Mulligan and his wife Mary operate Mulligan's convenience store, filling station, and post office on the Roscommon Road at Baylough, Athlone.
Their annual quotation for insurance recently went from €7,000 to €30,000 - a whopping 428% increase.
In addition, the level of insurance excess payable by the business went from €1,000 up to €25,000.
"Essentially, the insurer is increasing the cost of their cover while paradoxically reducing the level of cover provided," said Martin.
Mulligan's survived the recession without reducing its staff numbers or cutting wages, but Martin said that, as a result of the rising insurance costs, he is now struggling to see any future for the business he has been operating for the last 40 years.
"The stark reality is that we’re going to have to let staff go, and we’re looking at closing up," he said.
"It's being discussed at the moment, how we're going to wind down. I have 16 staff that I didn't let go during the recession. What do you say to people who have been loyal to you?
"What do you say to people who have been with you for 15 or 16 years? Where are they going to go? That's what's stopping me from closing tomorrow."
If Mulligan's does close it would see the removal, in addition to the local jobs, of services it provides to the area such as its post office, public toilet facilities, and 24-7 ATM.
Martin said many people still had the false impression that fraudulent or baseless insurance claims were "a victimless crime", but in reality rising insurance costs were placing a huge burden on small businesses.
* See full story in this week's Westmeath Independent, out now.