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Privacy Policy


This notice explains when and why we collect your Personal Data, how we use it, how we keep it secure and your rights in relation to it.

Personal Data is defined as information concerning any living person (a natural person who hereafter will be called the “Data Subject” / “you”).

The Data Protection Act (DPA), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which is EU wide, seek to protect and enhance the rights of data subjects. These rights cover the safeguarding of personal data, protection against the unlawful processing of personal data and the secure movement of personal data. 

Further details on the GDPR can be found at the website for the Information Commissioner ( For the purposes of the GDPR, the Veterinary Defence Society Limited are the “Data Controller” and “Data Processor” of all personal data we hold about you.

We may need to amend this Privacy Notice from time to time however we will always let you know if we make any significant changes. You may find out more about this from our website.

Who we are

We are The Veterinary Defence Society Limited. Within this Privacy Notice we also use the abbreviation “VDS”. We are a mutual organisation that has been protecting and defending the veterinary profession for more than 150 years.  More than 20,000 veterinary surgeons and more than 13,000 Registered Veterinary Nurse are members of the Society.

We are the trading company incorporated in England and Wales as The Veterinary Defence Society Limited, whose registered office is 4 Haig Court, Parkgate Industrial Estate, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 8XZ under Company Number 2159441. VDS Training Services Limited (trading as VDS Training) (“VDS Training”) is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Veterinary Defence Society Limited that develops and delivers non clinical risk mitigation training for vets, veterinary nurses and other members of the veterinary team. Its registered office is as above and it is registered in England and Wales under company number 10727838.

VDS is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference number 202598) and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland (Firm Reference number C38444) for conduct of business rules. We have notified the Information Commissioner of our data processing activities (registered under Number Z6856064).

Why do we collect your Personal Data

We collect your personal data so we can keep in touch with you about your membership of the Society, your insurance cover and other products and services that we believe will be of interest to you. We use your personal data to administer contracts of insurance, this entails keeping records of claims and potential claims as well as details of the type of veterinary work you are involved with. We will only ever collect, store and use your personal data when we have an identified purpose and reason to do so. The Information Commissioners Office refers to this as the ‘lawful basis’ for processing personal data. Further information about the lawful basis of our processing of your personal data is outlined below.

The kind of Personal Data we collect

The information collected about you includes:

  • General identification about you and your contact information
  • Information about the type of veterinary work and veterinary nursing work that you undertake
  • Information about your involvement in an incident that may lead to a claim
  • Telephone recordings of your conversations with us
  • Technical information, for example your computer’s IP address

We do not routinely collect personal data which would be categorised as “sensitive” or “special categories of data”, unless you become involved with disciplinary proceedings, convictions, or alleged criminal activity.

How we collect your Personal Data

VDS collects Personal Data:

  • Directly from you; from forms and surveys that you complete, from your correspondence and phone calls with us and details of your visits to our website, including but not limited to personally identifying information;
  • From the nominated individual at your Practice who is authorised to apply for insurance coverage;
  • Through our website (the “Site”) and other software applications made available by us for use on or through computers and mobile devices (the “Apps”);
  • From our social media pages and other social media content, tools and applications (our “Social Media Content”);
  • Through other means such as personal data provided to us via third party websites, our business partners or subcontractors;


The VDS website uses cookies, which is a string of information that a website stores on a visitor’s computer, which the visitor’s browser provides to the website each time the visitor returns. We use cookies to help identify and track visitors and their website access preferences. VDS may from time to time use such information to identify its visitors, and may collect statistics about the behaviour of visitors to its website. Website visitors who do not wish to have cookies placed on their computers should set their browsers to refuse cookies before using the VDS website.

Lawful Basis for processing Personal Data

We must have a lawful basis for processing your personal data. The relevant lawful basis upon which we rely is dependent upon why we need to process the data. The VDS processes data under one of three lawful bases:

1. Administration and Operation of a Contract

This is when we need to use your personal data in order to operate the contract of insurance and contact insured veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses about their membership of the Society.

Examples of where we use personal data for contractual administrative purposes include;

  • providing you with professional indemnity insurance;
  • maintaining databases of our members and keeping you informed;
  • providing membership benefits;
  • handling claims
  • providing risk mitigation advice
  • fulfilling an order for goods or services (whether placed online, over the phone or in person);
  • so that we can respect your choices and preferences (e.g. if you ask not to receive marketing material, we’ll keep a record of this)

2. Legitimate Interest

This is when we have identified a genuine and legitimate reason for contacting you, which crucially does not override your rights or interests. Broadly speaking Legitimate Interests allow us to process your personal information if we have a genuine and legitimate reason and we are not harming any of your rights and interests. Before we rely upon our legitimate interest we will carefully consider and balance any potential impact on you and your rights.

The vision of the VDS is to be the “leading defender and protector of the veterinary profession” and, as a mutual, we believe that our members share our values and ambitions. We will process the personal information you have supplied to us to conduct and manage our business to enable us to give you the most appropriate marketing, information, service and products, and provide the best and most secure experience. These are what we consider to be our 'Legitimate Interests'.

Examples of where we apply legitimate interests include:

Your best interest: Processing your information to protect you against fraud when transacting on our website, and to ensure our websites and systems are secure. We also have a legitimate interest in receiving and processing Personal Data about claimants or potential claimants which is provided to us under the terms of the Policy to safeguard your interests.

Keeping you informed: We may from time to time send you postal communications, that include;

  • information about training courses delivered by VDS Training;
  • highlighting VDS membership benefits and offers;
  • our events and activities;
  • products, services and offers (our own, and those of carefully selected third parties which may interest you or where a benefit is received by the VDS);

A newsletter is provided as a benefit of membership. We send these out by post several times a year to all our members (unless you specifically ask us not to). Please be aware that our newsletters may include a number of advertisements, inserts, competitions and other information. We may also send you information by post to let you know about products and services that we believe will be of interest to you. We do our very best to keep these relevant and to a minimum.

You can decide not to receive these communications or change how we contact you at any time. If you would like to stop receiving our newsletters, or information about new products and services, please let us know by contacting us using the details provided at the end of this Notice. 

Personalisation: Where the processing enables us to enhance, modify, personalise or otherwise improve our services and communications for the benefit of our members.

Internal Research and Analysis: Your personal data also helps us to get to know you better. Likewise, keeping a record of your veterinary work helps us to send you relevant information about risk mitigation and products and services that might be of interest to you.

We carry out internal analysis on data relating to our members, to determine the effect of risk mitigation training, better understand behaviour and responses and identify patterns and trends. This helps inform our approach towards risk mitigation and make us a stronger and more effective organisation.

We analyse data to determine the effectiveness of promotional campaigns and advertising and to develop our products, services, systems and relationships with you and to provide you with the most relevant information as long as this does not harm any of your rights and interests. To do this, we may make use of profiling and screening techniques of our membership database to communicate with you effectively and efficiently.

Due Diligence: We may need to conduct investigations on members, potential customers and members to determine if those companies and individuals have been involved or convicted of offences such as fraud, bribery and corruption.

Your interests

When we process your personal information for our legitimate interests, we will consider and balance any potential impact on you and your rights under data protection and any other relevant law. Our legitimate business interests do not automatically override your interests – we will not use your personal data for activities where our interests are overridden by the impact on you (unless we have your consent or are otherwise required or permitted to by law).

 For more information about your rights, please see Your rights as a data subject below.

 3. Consent

This is when you have given us express permission to use your data for a specific purpose. We use opt-in consent to send you the information about new products and services by email, text message (SMS) or telephone. You can set your preferences in respect of electronic communications or amend them by logging on to the VDS website .

We will only send you electronic marketing if you’ve requested it. As part of our service we will send you electronic communications (emails and SMS) relating to the products you’ve requested and relating to any service(s) that we deem applicable. However we, and carefully selected third parties, will only send you electronic direct marketing communications if you have given us your explicit consent, and only via the channels you have agreed.

You have a legal right to prevent your information being used for marketing purposes and you can change your preferences to opt out of receiving marketing at any time by contacting us using the details provided at the end of this Notice.

Retention Policy

VDS will process personal data for the duration of any contractual relationship we have with you and will continue to store only the personal data needed after the contractual relationship has ended in line with our Data Retention policy. We continually review what information we hold, and delete what is no longer required.

Data storage

Data is held in the United Kingdom using secure servers and secure off site storage facilities. VDS does not transfer personal data outside the EEA.

Sharing of Personal Information

We may share Personal Data with other insurance and distribution parties including reinsurers, financial institutions and other business partners or suppliers such as accountants, actuaries, auditors, lawyers and other professional advisers. VDS may share Personal Data with other data processors such as printing companies, who will act strictly under our instructions. To prevent any commercial conflicts of interest, the names of these parties are confidential. We may also share the information with government or other public authorities such as HMRC, law enforcement and other regulators.  We may share Personal Data with our subsidiary company, VDS Training Services Limited, for the purpose of designing and improving products, services or training courses offered by VDS and VDS Training. Data shared in this way will be kept in accordance with each firm’s Data Retention Policy.

Your rights as a data subject

At any point whilst VDS is in possession of or processing your personal data, all data subjects, have the following rights:

Right of access – you have the right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you.

Right of rectification – you have a right to ask us to correct data that we hold about you that is inaccurate or incomplete.

Right to be forgotten – in certain circumstances you can ask for the data we hold about you to be erased from our records.

Right to restriction of processing – where certain conditions apply you have a right to ask us restrict the processing.

Right of portability – you have the right to have the data we hold about you transferred to another organisation.

Right to object – you have the right to object to certain types of processing such as direct marketing.

Right to object to automated processing, including profiling – you also have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing or profiling.

VDS can, at your request, confirm what information it holds about you and how it is processed.

If, after carefully considering any request that you might make in respect of the above rights, we refuse your request we will provide you with a reason as to why. You have a right to challenge our decision to refuse your request and can do so by making a complaint (see below).

Automated decision making

A limited amount of automated decision making takes place including within VDS’ underwriting process. Where such decision making involves automated processing, including profiling, you also have the right to request human intervention to review the decision.


The VDS tries to exceed your expectations in everything that we do. However, we know that there may be times when we do not meet our own high standards. When this happens, we want to hear about it, in order to deal with the situation as quickly as possible and put measures in place to stop it happening again.

We aim:

  • To provide a fair complaints procedure that is clear and easy to use for anyone wishing to make a complaint.
  • To publicise the existence of our complaints procedure so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint.
  • To make sure everyone in our organisation knows what to do if a complaint is received.
  • To make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way.
  • To make sure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired.
  • To learn from complaints and feedback to help us to improve what we do.

We take complaints very seriously and we treat them as an opportunity to develop our approach. This is why we are always very grateful to hear from people who are willing to take the time to help us improve. In the event that you wish to make a complaint about how your personal data is being processed by VDS, you have the right to complain to VDS Data Protection Officer. If you do not receive a response within 30 days or should we fail to provide you with details of the data requested you have the right to refer your complaint to the Information Commissioner.

Contact Information

We have provided our contact details and those of the Information Commissioner below:

Data Protection Officer
The Veterinary Defence Society Limited
4 Haig Court, Parkgate Industrial Estate
WA16 8XZ
Tel 01565 652737


Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane



Tel 0303 123 1113