Horse owner wins battle against insurance company

  • A woman who complained when her insurance company refused to pay for alternative treatment for her mare has won the right to force them to reconsider.

    Catherine Hodson made a claim for veterinary costs under her NFU Mutual policy in July 2010, after her mare, Rose, was diagnosed with navicular syndrome.

    But the company refused to fund treatment at Rockley Farm, near Barnstaple, Devon – which practises barefoot rehabilitation.

    Now, the Financial Ombudsman has ordered NFU Mutual to reconsider Miss Hodson’s claim.

    “I am over the moon,” she told H&H. “I am so pleased that common sense has prevailed.”

    Miss Hodson, of Bishop Monkton, North Yorks, told H&H she had always shod her horses until Rose, a Dutch warmblood, began suffering from navicular.

    Miss Hodson, a lecturer in equine science, researched the options and decided that Rockley Farm – which advocates controlled exercise over a variety of surfaces and dietary changes – would give Rose the best chance. Her vet agreed to write a referral.

    But NFU Mutual rejected the claim, saying the treatment provided by Rockley Farm did not need to be carried out by a specialist.

    Miss Hodson’s policy provided cover up to £1,000 for complementary therapies – but only if the practitioner complied with NFU’s definition of a specialist.

    “If I’d said to them, ‘I want my vet to come every day until I’ve used up all £5,000 of my policy’, they would have paid,” said Miss Hodson.

    “But they wouldn’t pay the £780 for Rockley,” she added.

    Following treatment at Rockley Farm, Rose has been sound and in ridden work since November 2010.

    In his ruling of 30 May, the Ombudsman Christopher Tilson said NFU’s definition of the term “specialist” gave an “unfair and unreasonable result” in this case.

    He added that the treatment provided by Rockley Farm had “proven efficacious results” and did not represent an alternative therapy of “dubious nature and quality”.

    In a statement, NFU Mutual said it was “taking time to review thoroughly the Ombudsman’s decision before providing any comment”.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (14 June 2012)

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