Dental Indemnity: A Need-To-Know Checklist For New Dentists


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Time to read: 6-min read

As a newly qualified dentist, you will probably be feeling an odd mixture of emotions right now. Relief that your days as a student are over, excitement about what's next to come, and anxiety about how to navigate your next steps successfully.

One key aspect to consider when starting your career as a dentist is dental indemnity insurance. By having an effective insurance policy in place, you can have peace of mind that both you and your reputation will be protected from the moment you start working.

But what exactly is dental indemnity insurance? And why is it so important?

This guide will answer both of these questions and more, while also providing you with a useful checklist to ensure you receive the right protection.

What is dental indemnity insurance?

If you’re a newly qualified dentist, the chances are that you’re also relatively new to the world of dental indemnity insurance. So let’s introduce you to it properly.

Dental indemnity insurance is a specialised form of professional liability insurance that is specifically designed for dental professionals. It provides you with protection in the event that any claims or legal action is taken against you as a result of alleged professional negligence or malpractice.

While no dentist ever sets out to make a mistake, even with the best training in the world, things can still sometimes go wrong. And in the world of dentistry, even the smallest mistake can lead to serious consequences.

Dental indemnity insurance is there to provide you with a safety blanket, offering you peace of mind that if anything were to go wrong, you’d be protected. It can also help by covering legal costs, compensation claims or associated expenses.

Why is dental indemnity insurance important?

It’s sad to say but, in today’s society, more and more people are willing to take legal action when they feel they have been a victim of dental malpractice or negligence.

As a result, this naturally increases the pressure already on dentists’ shoulders.

This is why dental indemnity insurance is so important. Having a suitable policy in place that’s tailored around you gives you back some autonomy – removing that added pressure and allowing you to focus on what you’ve been so highly trained to do.

What are the key benefits of dental indemnity coverage?

There are a number of benefits to taking out dental indemnity insurance. Some of the key ones include:

  • Financial protection for professional and personal assets
  • Reputation protection
  • Coverage for defence costs (such as attorney fees, expert witness fees and any court expenses)
  • Access to 24-hour medico-legal support
  • Access to risk management resources, training programs and educational materials

Is dental indemnity cover compulsory?

This is a question newly qualified dentists often ask and, in simple terms, the answer is yes.

In accordance with the General Dental Council (GDC), all registered dentists must, by law, have an indemnity arrangement or insurance policy in place.

Even if you are employed to work as a dentist for the NHS, you will need your own indemnity – while they will offer assistance against negligence claims in most cases, the protection they can provide is generally a lot less robust and reliable than having your own private policy. It won’t, for example, provide any assistance in relation to GDC hearings and matters of professional conduct.

In other words, NHS indemnity doesn’t work the same way for dentists as it does for doctors or surgeons, so having your own indemnity policy is recommended.

What to consider when taking out dental indemnity: a checklist

Now that you understand why having a dental indemnity insurance policy is so important, don’t just rush in and sign up for the first policy you come across.

Dental indemnity is an incredibly complex area and finding the right policy to suit your needs will take dedicated time and research – two things you’ll know about all too well as a recent graduate.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all insurance policy that suits all dentists. That’s why your first port of call should be contacting an insurance broker with specialist experience in this area.

Here at Howden Medical Indemnity, for example, our team are experts in dental insurance and would be happy to answer any queries you might have.

And while we’re on the topic of queries, there are a number of things you’ll need to take into account when choosing the best dental indemnity policy for you. From the type of cover you take out to the actual insurer themselves, we’ve created a checklist below of all the key considerations you’ll need to think about.

1.  Type of dental indemnity cover: occurrence-based or claims-made?

There are two key types of dental indemnity cover: occurrence-based and claims-made.

An occurrence-based policy covers incidents that occur during the insurance’s policy period, regardless of when a claim is made. So, even if someone makes a claim against you years after an incident actually happened, you’d still be protected.

A claims-made policy, on the other hand, covers claims that are made while the policy is active, regardless of when the incident occurred. Therefore, if a claim is made after your policy expires, you may not necessarily be protected, unless you have what’s known as ‘tail coverage’ as an extension of your policy. Here’s an example of this type of policy in action.

As a newly qualified dentist, claims-made policies are typically the cheaper and more popular option, but it really depends on your specific circumstances. Speak to a specialist broker to determine which type is best suited to you.

2. What are the coverage limits?

When taking out a dental indemnity insurance policy, it’s crucial to make sure it fully protects you in the way you want it to.

Take the time to find out whether your policy covers the full extent of any potential claims, including legal costs and compensation payouts. Be wary of any policies that offer blanket coverage that won’t necessarily be tailored to your specific needs.

3. Check for retroactive coverage

This may not be as relevant to you as a newly qualified dentist but, if you would like your policy to protect you from any claims that have arisen from incidents that occurred before the policy’s start date, you will need to ensure it offers some form of retroactive coverage.

This is particularly applicable in situations where you are either changing your insurance provider or thinking about starting your own dental practice.

4. Is your policy tailored to you?

Every dentist is different – some will need protection against certain specialised types of procedures, while others will need a more general type of coverage. The correct choice will really come down to what it is you’re looking for protection from.

This is why tailored policies are generally the best bet. By working with a specialist broker, they will be able to ensure that your policy covers all aspects of your dental practice, providing you with peace of mind right from the very start of your career.

5. Which broker should you choose?

Since the whole purpose of dental indemnity insurance is to provide protection and reassurance, it’s vital to choose an insurance provider you can trust.

With this in mind, here are some key questions to think about and research when deciding on your insurer.

  • What is their reputation like?
  • Are they financially stable?
  • Do they specialise in dental indemnity?
  • Do they offer access to risk management resources?
  • What does their claims-handling process involve?

Howden Medical Indemnity: insurance you can trust

Here at Howden Medical Indemnity, we have provided dental indemnity insurance policies to numerous newly qualified dentists across the UK.

We make sure to put you first by offering tailored support to help you not only maintain your professional reputation but also protect your personal assets throughout the entirety of your career.

To find out more about us and the types of policies we can offer, simply get in touch with our team on 020 7623 3806 or request a quote for dental indemnity insurance and we’d be more than happy to help.