Professional liability insurance, also referred to as malpractice insurance, protects you from dental services provided, or that should have been provided, to your patients. This type of insurance protects you, your business, past or present employees, and approved substitute dentists. Professional liability insurance protects you from bearing the full cost of defending yourself in a negligence claim made by a patient in a civil lawsuit. Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise the level of care that one of reasonable prudence would have exercised in the same circumstances. Negligence usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions–a failure to act. Examples of dental negligence are misdiagnoses, improper administration of anesthetic, the reusing of contaminated instruments, or any failure to provide safe and standard care to patients. Criminal prosecution is not protected under professional liability. Even the most highly trained, experienced dental professionals can be exposed to professional liability risks.
There are two kinds of professional liability policies: Claims Made and Occurrence. Claims Made policies pay claims reported to the insurer during the term of the policy or within a specific term after it expires. Claims Made coverage protects you from services performed within specific dates. You must continually renew this coverage to be protected. Claims Made coverage increases premiums in a stepped process because of your elevated risk of claims as the years go on.
Occurrence policies also pay claims for incidents that occur during the policy term; however, it does not matter when the claims were reported to the insurer. These premiums are at fixed rate, but they typically cost more than Claims Made coverage due to the way risk is calculated, which is based on the amount of risk exposure at that specific time.
It is important for you to obtain coverage before an accident turns into a disaster for you and your business.
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