Dentists and their staff often spend their time processing insurance payments and explaining to their patients the benefits of the patient's own dental insurance. But what about the insurance products dentists need to protect themselves from malpractice, liability, and permanent disability?
Keep reading to learn more about the coverage options available and what dentists should consider when selecting insurance coverage.
Once you have obtained your state dental license, it's time to look into malpractice insurance. This type of coverage can protect you from financial liability if a patient claims they were harmed during a procedure. Many states don't have tort caps, or limits on the amount a plaintiff can recover in a malpractice claim—which means that a single successful malpractice lawsuit could cost a dentist at least six figures in damages. In 2018, the average medical malpractice payout in the U.S. was just under $350,000.1
Dentists often choose from one of two types of malpractice insurance: "claims-based" insurance or "occurrence" insurance.2 Occurrence policies are triggered upon the treatment at issue, even if a malpractice claim is filed later. If the malpractice policy lapses after the treatment, but before a claim is made, the policy will still provide coverage for that claim. Claims-based coverage is triggered only when a claim is filed, which means the malpractice insurance policy must still be active to provide coverage.
Another important type of insurance coverage is general liability coverage for your office. Depending on the level of coverage you select, liability insurance can protect everything from a patient slip-and-fall on icy steps outside (as this won't be covered by a malpractice policy) to a claim made by an employee to "business interruption" insurance that will help pay overhead expenses if you're forced to shut your practice down temporarily for factors outside your control. The right scope of liability insurance coverage for you will depend on a variety of factors, from whether you rent or own your business's physical location to the size of your practice and the number of employees.
Around 26 percent of adults in the U.S. will suffer some type of functional disability during their lives.3 For dentists, a disability as seemingly mild as a hand tremor or a rotator cuff injury can seriously impact your ability to practice. Short-term and long-term disability insurance policies can provide monthly payments to dentists who are unable to work, helping maintain a steady income even when continuing in the dental field may not be an option.
New dentists often carry hefty student loans—and starting up a dental practice can be expensive as well. If you unexpectedly pass away before these loans are repaid, will this place a financial burden on your family and loved ones? A term life insurance policy can be an inexpensive way to ensure that these debts will be covered (and then some) if you pass away during the peak of your earning potential.
Your financial professional can work with you to select the coverage options and policy conditions that work best for your unique situation. Don't let "analysis paralysis" get the best of you and prevent you from choosing any level of insurance coverage at all—these four types of insurance coverage can be the key to running a strong, stable, financially secure dental practice.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This material contains only general descriptions and is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor is it intended as any financial or tax advice. For information about specific insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent. This article is intended to assist in educating you about insurance generally and not to provide personal service. They may not take into account your personal characteristics such as budget, assets, risk tolerance, family situation or activities which may affect the type of insurance that would be right for you. In addition, state insurance laws and insurance underwriting rules may affect available coverage and its costs. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. If you need more information or would like personal advice you should consult an insurance professional. You may also visit your state’s insurance department for more information.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
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