Getting the best dental malpractice insurance for you
Most of us are familiar with car insurance. We all know that car insurance coverage and rates vary widely from household to household. The variables that affect your premium include the type of car, age of car, age of driver, driver experience, number of drivers, length of time with insurance … you get the picture.
Dental malpractice insurance varies widely as well. You need a policy that fits your unique insurance needs at the moment. This may change over time, and we hope it does. Your policy should be able to change with you. When searching for the best dental malpractice policy, here are a few things to consider.
6 Tips to customize your coverage
1. Before you land your first job, talk to a malpractice insurance agent about your state. Does your state have one insurance rate state wide? Or are there portions of your state where the insurance is more expensive? Is there a good chance that you’ll move and practice in a different state in a few years? Find out if your insurance company writes in most states, or just a few. Some companies are regional, and you may have to switch if you move. Remember that insurance rates vary WIDELY from state to state. An occurrence policy in some states may only be $950. In other states the same policy for the same dentist could be closer to $7,000, just because of the state.
2. Are you planning to work for a few years, establish your career, and then take a few years off to raise a family or pursue further education? An occurrence policy form would be a better option for you than a claims-made policy form. An occurrence form can be in force for a few years, cancelled for a few years, and resumed later without any problems or gaps in coverage.
3. Do you have enough coverage? The vast majority of dentists start their career with insurance limits of $1 million per occurrence, $3 million aggregate (for the year). This is the generally agreed upon industry standard. If you continue to have personal assets totaling less than $1 million, this should be enough coverage for you with only a few exceptions. You need enough to protect your assets from being stripped from you in a lawsuit. However, as your practice grows, and you become successful, your income and assets will grow. Your insurance limits need to increase to protect you properly.
4. You need to do a little bit of research regarding the legal environment of the state in which you will be practicing. When there is a lawsuit for injuries, some states have a cap on non-economic damages and some do not. This means that some states have limited the maximum amount of money that a plaintiff can receive for things like “pain and suffering”. Some of these caps are very high. And some states don’t have a limit at all. These laws can be complex, and they vary widely from state to state, making it almost impossible to create a comprehensive list of all the states and the various iterations of the law in each state. Beware! If you do a web search for this information, there are a lot of legal blogs that claim to have accurate information. Research thoroughly or call us to confirm if you need higher limits due to a high cap on damages in your state.
5. Do you work part time? Every insurance company has different ideas about how many hours constitutes part time work. We work with several malpractice insurance companies. All of them have different guidelines concerning what is considered part time. If you’re going to work part time, it is worthwhile to comparison shop your insurance, or have your agent do it for you.
6. Are you a recent dental school graduate? Or maybe you just completed your residency? Most insurance companies offer significant discounts for first, second and third-year dentists. Find out if your quote is including this discount, and if so, get an idea of what the policy will cost after that discount disappears
Need help? We specialize in dental malpractice insurance and we’re here to help. Call or email us with your questions.