Malpractice insurance is essential for any medical professional. Dental malpractice insurance is just as important as the malpractice insurance purchased by doctors and surgeons. You never know when someone could sue you or your practice for alleged negligence or malpractice. Whether you have your own practice or work for an independent practice (irrespective of dental specialities,) it’s important to be prepared to ensure that you never find your finances and reputation being majorly affected by a malpractice claim.
What is Malpractice Insurance?
Malpractice insurance, commonly referred to as professional liability insurance, is a type of insurance that can be purchased by medical professionals. This insurance offers coverage to protect healthcare professionals in the case a patient files a lawsuit against them. The lawsuit could be due to a complaint that the patient was harmed in some way due to negligence or treatment choices by the medical professional. This type of insurance also offers coverage for a patient’s death. Remember, though, the limits of insurance can hold you back when a claim is made. An insurance carrier offers insurance for dentists, but remember that errors and omissions insurance or professional liability insurance only goes so far.
What is Dental Malpractice Insurance?
Dental malpractice insurance protects dental practices against the liabilities of a lawsuit filed by a patient. While malpractice insurance may not be required for all healthcare professionals, it may be required to become a licensed dentist depending on where you practice. This insurance is used if someone files a malpractice claim alleging that a dentist was negligent while performing services.
Risk management programs will help you avoid a professional liability claim, but policy limits must be considered so that you can protect yourself fully. Occurrence policies are designed to pay for one claim with separate limits. If you take a standard policy, you will have policy limits that expire every year or are tied to the life of the policy.
Dental malpractice insurance is a standalone policy that should be bought separately from other insurance you may have. Entity malpractice coverage can also be purchased, which will ensure coverage in the case someone names the entity rather than a specific dental service provider when filing a lawsuit.
A patient might sue a dentist for different types of malpractice for which the insurance would be used for. A few examples may include anesthesia and root canal complications or tooth decay infections from a crown that was ill-fitted. Remember — even if a lawsuit is completely frivolous, anyone has the ability to sue you at any time. You’ll need to defend yourself against these claims, regardless of validity.
Types of Dental Malpractice Insurance
The main difference between the 2 major types of dental malpractice insurance coverage is whether coverage is triggered when the dental treatment occurs or when your patient files a lawsuit.
- Occurrence coverage: Occurrence coverage is triggered the moment that you provide a dental treatment, covering you for future legal action. For example, if you provide a patient with a procedure in 2017 and the patient decides to sue you in 2019, your 2017 occurrence coverage will respond.
- Claims-made: Claims-made coverage is triggered during the year that a patient sues you. For example, if a patient receives a treatment in 2017 and decides to sue you in 2019, your 2019 claims-made coverage will go into effect.
Some dental malpractice insurance providers offer both occurange and claims-made coverage while others do not. Be sure to read and understand what exactly is covered before signing onto a policy. Remember, malpractice claims can strike licensed dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontists and other dental professionals.
Best Malpractice Insurance Providers
Now that you understand how dental malpractice insurance works, let’s take a look at a few of our favorite coverage providers.
Best for Financial Stability: The Hartford
Malpractice lawsuits can be long and time-consuming, which increases the amount that you’ll spend defending yourself. This factor makes it crucial to choose an insurance provider that can handle these kinds of claims.
The Hartford is 1 of the most consistently highly rated insurance companies in terms of financial stability.
The company currently maintains an A+ rating from Standard and Poor's, an A2 from Moody's and an A+ from AM Best, which represent some of the highest scores available.
Best for Tailored Coverage: Simply Business
Simply Business offers a comprehensive suite of business insurance that specializes in making it easy to insure your business. Whether you’re looking for construction workers' insurance or liability insurance for your startup, Simply Business helps you find the best dental malpractice coverage at the right price. Don’t turn to a thousand different carriers when you can get help from Simply Business, especially when malpractice coverage can cut into your bottom line.
Tell Simply Business a little bit about your business and you'll get almost-instantaneous affordable quotes from top insurance providers to protect your business and safeguard yourself or other licensed employees. You can also look into business owner’s plans, additional liability insurance, commercial auto and more that will cover everyone on your team, and you can get covered in accordance with state law without overspending.
Building your business is hard enough. Let Simply Business make it easier. Get a quote from Simply Business today.
Best for Small Business Owners: CoverWallet
If you own your own practice, you know that keeping costs under control is crucial to the success of your business. CoverWallet is a unique insurance provider offering a custom insurance assessment tool that you can use to instantly get a quote and learn more about the coverages your business needs.
You can also easily combine your malpractice insurance with other types of coverage you’ll need, like general liability insurance.
CoverWallet is a favorite among
Best for Customized Coverage: Dentist’s Advantage
Dentist’s Advantage is 1 of the only insurance companies that focuses solely on providing comprehensive insurance policies to dental professionals. With Dentist’s Advantage, you can choose your own coverage level and deductible, which can help you balance costs and coverage. Dentist’s Advantage also offers a number of discounts, including discounts for new dental school graduates and part-time dentists.
Best for Comprehensive Coverage: MedPro Group
MedPro has resolved more than 400,000 malpractice claims worldwide to date — and the company offers generous terms and coverage for dental professionals. MedPro’s dental insurance offers coverage for both occurrence and claims-made policies, and its team has a 95%-win rate when malpractice lawsuits are taken to court. MedPro even offers you access to a dedicated risk management team to help you mitigate the risk of legal action.
How to Compare Dental Malpractice Insurance
When comparing dental malpractice insurance, don’t go with the 1st policy that you consider. You’ll want to take into account multiple factors when you select a policy to ensure that you have the best possible coverage for your practice and business structure.
Let’s take a look at a few factors that you’ll want to consider when you choose your dental malpractice insurance provider.
- Number of years of experience offering dental malpractice insurance: Malpractice lawsuits can become complicated and expensive. You’ll want to work with an insurance company with dental and medical malpractice experience that has a strong track record of navigating these claims.
- Coverage limits: Like most other types of insurance, dental malpractice insurance policies come with coverage limits that control the total benefit that you can claim from your policy. For example, if your policy has a coverage limit of $1 million, it means that your insurance provider will only cover up to $1 million worth of qualified legal expenses. As malpractice lawsuits can be lengthy, we recommend choosing a policy with higher coverage limits.
- Financial stability: Malpractice lawsuits can become lengthy and time-consuming, which can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses. Working only with companies that maintain a stable financial rating can ensure that your insurance provider can handle all outlets of your claim.
- Requirements regarding dental procedures: Some policies require certain updates of dental procedures or don’t offer coverage for select types of sedation used during procedures. You’ll want to make sure the policy you’re getting aligns with your procedures and the way that you run your office and apply treatments.
- Cost: Every individual insurance company sets its own policy rates, which means that quotes can vary widely from company to company. We recommend getting a quote from more than 1 dental malpractice insurance provider to ensure that you’re not overpaying for coverage.
You should consider consulting with an insurance agent or broker in order to find out the most information and compare. An agent works with 1 insurance company, whereas a broker works independent from any 1 insurance company. Therefore, a broker makes it easier to compare companies and pricing.
Ready to begin your search for the best dental malpractice insurance now? Consider beginning with a few of our favorite business insurance providers using the chart below.
How to Buy Medical Malpractice Insurance
The process of buying medical malpractice insurance is similar to buying any type of insurance. You can buy it on your own or sometimes the medical practice you work at will offer it, assuming you don’t own your own practice.
If you’re choosing to buy a policy on your own, once you’ve found the insurance provider and policy that best suits you, you can purchase the policy by consulting with an insurance agent. Insurance agents are experts in the type of coverage that they provide, so we recommend speaking with an agent to customize your policy before you purchase coverage online.
Should You Get Dental Malpractice Insurance?
If you already have insurance, take a look at your policy to be sure that you’re covered for every type of procedure or service that you provide at your practice. If you don’t already have a dental malpractice insurance policy, start by collecting a few quotes from our favorite providers as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to be sued by a former patient or client, only to find out that you don’t have the insurance you need to fight back against these claims.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do dentists need malpractice insurance?
In most cases, practicing licensed dentists are required to purchase and maintain malpractice insurance. However, these requirements vary from state to state, so your required coverage will depend on the state you practice in. Even if malpractice insurance isn’t required for dentists where you work, it’s a very smart idea to get coverage.
How common is dental malpractice?
Dental malpractice claims are relatively rare when compared to other types of medical professions. About 1 out of every 7 malpractice claims involve dental malpractice. While less common than other types of malpractice, dentists can be sued at any time. This risk means that it’s always important to have coverage.