Ken Thomalla, CPA®, CLU®, CFP®
Chief Operating Officer, Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
You pursued dentistry to serve patients and make a difference—not to become knowledgeable about malpractice insurance. But protecting yourself, and your practice, is one of the best steps you can take to pursue peace of mind as a dental professional.
Making the right insurance decision for you and your career will be less daunting if you know what to look for in a carrier. Here are a few questions you should ask to find a malpractice product, and carrier, that will be the right fit.
1. How financially strong is the carrier?
It’s important to understand a carrier’s financial strength because malpractice insurance is a long-term promise. Independent rating agencies, such as A.M. Best, determine insurance carrier ratings based on a number of factors. Typically, the higher the carrier’s rating, the more financially secure the rating agency believes them to be.
2. Will my policy have a pure consent to settle provision?
Every malpractice policy has a provision regarding who can consent to settle a claim—an insured or the company. But not every company offers a policy that gives the right to consent to settle a claim to an insured, without restriction. Not having restrictions is also known as a pure consent to settle provision. Pure consent gives you control to refuse to settle a malpractice claim and is extremely important to have in your insurance policy*.
3. Is occurrence coverage an option?
Occurrence policies provide coverage for a claim based upon when an incident occurs, no matter when a claim is made. As a result, occurrence policies provide coverage long into the future—no matter where you practice, if you take a break from your career, or change specialties, jobs or even malpractice insurance companies. In contrast, claims-made policies provide coverage for a claim based upon when the claim is made. Both claims-made and occurrence policy types have specific benefits, and it’s important to understand the difference so you can choose the right fit for your career plans.
4. What happens if I move states?
Unsure of where your career might take you next? An insurance company’s ability to move with you will make relocating a lot easier. That’s why you want to make sure the company you’re considering offers coverage in every state so you can make life changes without worrying about an interruption in your coverage. This is especially important for doctors who have a claims-made policy.
5. Will I have access to risk management resources?
A malpractice insurance company should give you tools to improve patient safety and identify areas of risk in your practice. Look for an in-house risk management team that is able to provide real-time advice. A great company doesn’t just defend claims, it actively works to prevent them.
6. How experienced is the claims team?
What if you’re named in a malpractice lawsuit and left feeling confused and afraid? An experienced claims defense team trained to fight for you will help ensure you never feel alone and will usually walk away with winning results. After all, you’re paying for the promise your insurance carrier will show up when you need them most—with an experienced team.
7. Does the carrier understand my specialty?
Dentistry is one of hundreds of healthcare specialties, and your malpractice insurance policy should be specialized to you and your scope of practice. As a specialist, look for a company that offers additional coverages addressing your industry’s needs, such as Medicare/Medicaid billing defense coverage, which will provide you with coverage if the government audits your practice with a formal records request.
About Treloar & Heisel
Treloar & Heisel is a financial services provider to dental and medical professionals across the country. We assist thousands of clients from residency to practice and through retirement with a comprehensive suite of financial services, custom-tailored advice, and a strong national network focused on delivering the highest level of service. For more information, contact Treloar & Heisel at 800-345-6040, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.treloaronline.com.
*Pure consent to settle may not be available in all states.
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc. Insurance products offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc. This content is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice. Please consult with a licensed insurance advisor. 21-106