If you’re graduating dental school, you’re probably wondering, ‘when should I get dental malpractice insurance?’
There are actually 2 answers to this question, depending on your plans for after graduation.
Plan #1: Graduate, take dental board exams, start working right away to pay off those student loans
Many schools provide malpractice insurance coverage for the clinical portion of your dental board exams. However, some do not. Your first malpractice insurance policy may be an inexpensive policy just to cover your board exams. Board exam policies are typically $50 or less. In most cases if you choose to continue malpractice insurance coverage with the same insurance company, they will apply that premium to the cost of your new policy, thereby making the board exam coverage free.
Once you’ve passed your dental boards, presumably with flying colors, it’s time to secure your first position in a dental office. That office is either going to offer you malpractice insurance as part of their benefits package, or they are going to require proof that you are carrying your own individual malpractice insurance policy.
- If you need to purchase your own policy, it’s best to allow yourself at least 2 weeks to secure malpractice insurance. It may not take that long, but consider that every new graduate is also seeking malpractice insurance at the same time as you. Malpractice insurance companies get more requests for new insurance quotes in May, June and July than at any other time of the year.
- If the practice is offering to add you to their malpractice insurance as part of their benefits package, there are a few questions you should ask:
- Is the policy that you are offering a claims-made policy or an occurrence policy?
- If it is a claims-made policy, will I be required to purchase tail coverage if I ever leave your employment?
** Please note that if the policy is claims-made, you will probably have to purchase tail coverage when you leave their employment, in order to make sure that you have coverage for any future claims that arise from the time that you worked in that office. Tail coverage is expensive. Just keep that in mind. If the policy is an occurrence policy, you will not need to worry about purchasing tail coverage when you leave. They will be able to simply remove you from their policy, and you can secure a new occurrence policy elsewhere with no problems.
Plan #2: Graduate, take dental board exams, start residency program, get a part time job
Most residency programs provide malpractice insurance for you while you are providing clinical services within the scope of that facility. However, if you take a part time job on the weekends (those student loans keep coming up!), you will need separate malpractice coverage. We call it a “moonlighting” policy. The coverage is the same, but the premium is greatly reduced because you are only working minimal hours, due to the residency program.
With graduation just around the corner, it’s a great idea to speak with an insurance agent that specializes in dental malpractice insurance. Most of the time, your auto insurance agent isn’t going to have all the resources and information needed to help you with the details of malpractice coverage. You do need a specialist. Even if you’re not ready to purchase a policy yet, you can explain your individual situation and receive qualified guidance on the malpractice insurance options that you will need to consider.