There are few things that get me riled more than bullying, and its at its worst when it is big companies bullying their customers. I want to put a warning on the blog because, in this instance, its insurance companies who are being the thugs, and their targets are horse owners.
Briefly, when the UK economy was more robust than it is today, insurance companies would generally honour the wording on their equine policies without too much quibbling; if the policy covered alternative therapy, or something similar then, provided you had a vet referral, a horse which came here would have at least part of the rehab costs reimbursed by the insurers. We have had a number of horses come through Project Dexter, for instance, on this basis.
What I've found in the last 6 months, however, is that suddenly insurance companies have become bullies - and one company in particular. There is no other word for it - the wording of the insurance policies hasn't changed - so contractually, if the insurer paid last year, then in the same circumstances it is obliged to pay this year. But it has decided it doesn't want to.
Of course, on the blog, I can't name the company concerned but it is surprisingly "reputable". Nevertheless, it is prepared to take premium payments every month and then when an owner makes a claim for sending a horse here (on vet referral) they are resorting to bullying, intimidation and lies to avoid paying out on the policy.
One owner a few weeks ago was told outright by these insurers that they had never, ever paid for a horse to undergo rehab here (the insurers said the same thing to another owner today, incidentally - so much for duty of utmost good faith between insurers and insured...). The insurers were pretty furious when I emailed to them and the owner a copy of the cheque and letterhead which they had addressed to me a year earlier, funding the rehab of one of the Project Dexter horses. There is no excuse for this - its unprofessional, uncontractual and illegal.
I find it appalling that they are prepared to lie to their customers, and to use their myriad staff to make it so hard for owners to claim that most will give up. Its not simply a question of economics, but of horse welfare.
This isn't the end of the story, happily, because there is at least one owner who is determined to bring the company to account and who is contacting the Insurance Ombudsman. I will update the blog as and when, but in the meantime, if you are renewing or taking out insurance, feel free to email me to find out whether your insurer is worth paying or not....
Years ago, there were 2 types of insurance companies who provided cover for horses - the good guys and the complete chancers. Sadly, it seems as if today even the "good" guys won't honour their contractual obligations without a fight and legal representation.
Maybe its time to consider self-insurance instead?!...More on that another day...