Explaining Dental Liability Insurance Costs
Even the most experienced dental professional can make a mistake that results in a costly lawsuit. You can protect yourself and your practice from a malpractice suit with dental liability insurance—but what is the cost? Keep reading to learn more about dental liability insurance costs, what it covers, and why your practice needs it.
What Is Dental Liability Insurance?
Dental liability insurance, also known as dental malpractice insurance, is a crucial type of professional liability coverage that protects dental practices if a patient files a lawsuit.
Common Reasons Dentists Are Sued for Malpractice
The most common reasons dentists are sued for malpractice include:
- Tooth extractions causing nerve damage or undiagnosed infections
- Anesthesia and root canal complications
- Lack of informed patient consent
- Failure to diagnose gum disease, oral tumors, and cancers
- Ill-fitted crown issues, such as tooth decay infections
- Unexpected or adverse drug reactions
- Complications from dental implants, bridges, or crowns
- Neglecting to refer the patient to a specialist if needed
Average Payout for Dental Negligence
According to data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), about 10,000 medical malpractice claims are paid out every year, and the average payout for dental negligence is nearly $350,000 per case. Unfortunately, dentists are often sued, and even if a malpractice claim is dismissed in court, dentists are still strapped with costly legal expenses if they don’t have professional liability insurance in place. But dental liability insurance costs cover lawyer, trial, and court fees in the event of a lawsuit.
What Does Dental Malpractice Insurance Cover?
General liability insurance covers risks in your practice, property insurance covers your chairs and dental equipment, and cyber liability insurance protects your patients’ confidential virtual records, but you need dental malpractice insurance to protect you and the work you do.
Since dental work is full of risks related to anesthesia and procedure complications, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting yourself, your practice, and the work you perform. That’s why dental malpractice insurance is designed to protect dental professionals from malpractice lawsuits and helps pay for lawsuit costs.
There are two types of malpractice insurance coverage policies you can choose from: claims-made and occurrence.
Occurrence-based policies do not require a retroactive date, and you can still be covered for a suit even after your policy is canceled. Let’s say you had an occurrence policy from 2010 to 2015 and a suit is filed now for a 2013 procedure—you are covered. If you retired in 2015, you wouldn’t need an extra policy to extend coverage.
Choosing the right dental liability insurance that works for you and your practice can be daunting, so it’s important to discuss your options with a dental malpractice insurance agency who can guide you to the right coverage.
A claims-made policy considers coverage based on when an incident occurs and when it’s reported. Claims-made policies work by identifying a retroactive date to specify how far back an incident can occur to be covered, and the claim is required to be filed while the policy is active. For example, let’s say you have a claims-made policy with a retroactive date of January 1st, 2021. If your policy is active now and a patient files a suit for a procedure you performed in 2022, you would be covered by your claims-made policy.
What Are Dental Tail Coverage Costs?
Insurance companies offer tail coverage for claims-made policies that extend coverage indefinitely, making claims-made the perfect policy for dentists who are retired but still need protection. Dental tail coverage costs are typically about twice your annual premium. Let’s say your annual premium is $4,000 a year, then your dental tail coverage cost would be around $8,000.
How Much Is Dental Malpractice Insurance?
Dental liability insurance costs depends on several factors, including:
Claims-made policies are typically more affordable than occurrences policies.
The higher your limits are, the more you can expect to pay in premiums.
Many insurers offer new dentists discounted rates and increase dental liability insurance costs after a few years.
The Average Cost of Dental Malpractice Insurance
Typically, as a new dentist, the average cost of dental malpractice insurance is anywhere from a few hundred to over $1,000 a year, and the amount can increase to several thousand dollars for an established practice.
Dental liability insurance costs differ by state and region. For example, dentists practicing in a large city may pay more than dentists practicing in small, suburban areas.
Membership and Risk Management Practices
Insurers may also offer discounts if you belong to a reputable professional organization or take regular risk management courses.
Whether you’re a dentist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon, dental malpractice insurance is essential. Check out our guide to learn more.
Dental Liability Insurance Costs Are Worth the Benefits
Dental liability insurance costs may seem expensive, but the benefits can outweigh the costs in the long run. Even the most highly skilled, experienced practitioners can make a mistake or misdiagnose a dental issue, but with dental malpractice insurance, you can rest assured that you, your practice, and the work you perform are protected.
Making Your Dental Liability Insurance Costs Work For You
At Southpoint Insurance, we specialize in finding comprehensive coverage solutions that work with your budget and protect your practice. Our team members partner with the most trusted malpractice carriers and commercial insurance companies, so you can choose from a wide range of prices, coverage options, and policy types. If you already have a dental liability insurance policy in place, we can assess your coverage, identify gaps, and help you secure better coverage to make your dental liability insurance costs work for you. Get in touch today to get expert recommendations or request a quote.