The owners of Patchetts Green Equestrian Centre have launched a legal battle against insurance brokers Shearwater in a row over a strangles outbreak.

Patchetts Green was closed for a month last summer after horses at the yard in Hertfordshire came down with strangles, and the centre claimed business interruption losses of more than £58,000.

But insurers turned down the claim, saying its public, products and employers’ liability policy did not provide cover for animal diseases, but only contagious or infectious human diseases, according to a High Court writ.

Now Patchetts Green Ltd is suing Shearwater Insurance Services for damages for negligence, and blames the broker for the change in cover.

Patchetts Green had changed insurer in January 2007 after being assured that the policy was “like for like”, the writ says. The company, which comprises an equestrian centre, tack shop and licensed restaurant in Watford, paid Shearwater a premium of £16,770 for cover between 22 January 2007 and 21 January 2008.

The centre accuses Shearwater of making a false representation and of breaching a warranty as the new insurance policy did not provide the same cover as the previous policy with Thompson Heath and Bond, incorporating British Equestrian Insurance brokers.

In the writ, Patchetts Green accuses Shearwater of negligence and breach of contract, and says it failed to arrange insurance which covered the same risks as the previous policy; failed to provide cover for business interruption from contracting animal disease including strangles; and failed to arrange suitable insurance cover.

The centre had used Thompson Heath and Bond to arrange insurance for the past 22 years, but changed to Shearwater after negotiations between Jeremy Lawton and Patchetts’ Donald McTaggart, it is alleged.

The premises were quarantined between 11 June and 10 July last year after the strangles outbreak.

Patchetts Green Ltd is also seeking interest of £3,722.32, continuing at £12.88 a day. Both parties were approached by H&H, but declined to comment.