Learn more about indemnity and your cover options at BDA.
In a nutshell
All registered dentists and dental care professionals (DCPs) are required to have professional indemnity or insurance cover. The GDC will ask you to confirm this when you apply for registration, restoration or renewal of your registration. Arranging appropriate indemnity insurance will ensure your patients can claim compensation if they have suffered harm (GDC, Standards for the dental team, 1.8).
Professional indemnity can be a costly practice expense. It is important that you understand your indemnity cover, the options available to you and the pros and cons of different types of policies.
Who needs indemnity cover?
Indemnity cover is both a legal and regulatory requirement for all dentists and DCPs. It is your responsibility to ensure you have appropriate cover for your scope of practice.
If your situation changes (e.g. you take an extended break or retire from clinical practice) or you opt for a different form of cover, then you must make sure that you understand the legal implications of the changes and take appropriate steps to protect patients whose current or future claims may be affected.
What indemnity options are available to you?
Not all indemnity policies are the same, so it is important to understand the provisions and limitations of the different kinds of policies that are available to you. There are two different types of indemnity cover: occurrence-based and claims-made.
Occurrence-based cover provides perpetual indemnity for treatments provided during that policy period. If an incident took place during the policy period, the policyholder will be covered; it does not matter when the claim is made against you. A single subscription for each year that the dentist practices, provides protection for them and their patients in perpetuity.
Claims-made cover on the other hand typically provides a specified level of cover, for specified circumstances, and for a specified period (usually the duration of the policy). Beyond that your cover ends. Claims-made cover can be priced lower than occurrence-based cover. But, bearing in mind the likely interval between the provision of treatment and a claim for negligence, the dentist will need to purchase additional (run-off) cover long after they have stopped working.
This additional cost should be factored in when comparing indemnity policies.
Contractual insurance policy or discretionary cover?
Contractual insurance-based indemnity operates on the same basis as other forms of insurance. The policy wording defines what is covered by this legally enforceable agreement and if you are declined cover, you can seek arbitration from the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Discretionary cover is different. The organisation can exercise its absolute discretion not to assist
you, even if you are in the right subscription category, have paid the correct fees and the matter is within the scope of cover – and there is no independent source of adjudication. Whilst it rarely happens, as a mutual fund, a refusal to assist an individual member can be argued to be justified on the basis that incurring the costs of the case would not be in the interests of other members.
The flip side of the certainty of contractual insurance may be its lack of discretion in dealing flexibly with any claims at the fringes or beyond the scope of the policy, that a discretionary approach might encompass.
Thinking of changing your cover?
Most claims are made over 12 months after the treatment took place. When changing your cover, it is important to keep in mind that it is a legal and regulatory requirement to have adequate indemnity protection to cover all such future claims.
If you change your arrangements (e.g. because you move from occurrence-based cover to claims-made cover), you must make sure that patients can make a claim even when your indemnity insurance has lapsed. In this case, you must ensure that you have access to extended reporting benefits (run-off cover).
Two similarly priced policies can offer very different cover. Make sure you have considered all
your options before committing or re-committing to indemnity cover.
A new alternative
You can now choose indemnity cover through the BDA. Our indemnity cover provides you with comprehensive, contractual and bespoke professional liability insurance, plus dentist-led advice and resources. You’ll get all the benefits of being a BDA member, plus holistic cover including:
- Long-term peace of mind, with occurrence-based (in perpetuity) cover
A legally-binding right to cover, that underpins our contract with you*
Advice from experienced dentists and case management that respects your unique situation
A policy that’s been backed by one of the UK’s top 5 UK insurers**, with assured financial security
- Flexible category structure so you only pay for what you do, so you won’t be subsidising the risks of other dentists, medical colleagues or peers in other countries.
Our website provides more information on the policy cover including the benefits, limitations
and exclusions. A printed copy of the Policy Summary is also available upon request.
Find out more: bda.org/indemnity
Speak to our Indemnity Experts at UK Dental Congress & Exhibition 2020, visit stand F21
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* Subject to policy terms and conditions
** Standard & Poor’s credit rating 20 June 2018
The policy is arranged by the British Dental Association and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance. The British Dental Association is an appointed representative of Lloyd & Whyte Ltd. Lloyd & Whyte Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA does not regulate the advice you receive with regards to Advisory, Case Management and Indemnity Support provided by the BDA. Calls are recorded for training and monitoring purposes.
The policy does not extend to members working in the Isle of Man or Channel Islands.