The gold standard

Dentists may believe that indemnity and insurance products are all the same – but there are some crucial differences

EVERY dentist must have it, but there is currently lively debate as to exactly what kind of indemnity product is best.

With so many conflicting reports out there, it can be difficult for even experienced clinicians to access accurate information about the pros and cons of each product type.

Fortunately, MDDUS’ dental members enjoy comprehensive protection that is competitively priced. Our occurrence-based indemnity offers more than just cover for negligence claims, it offers lifelong peace of mind. We believe it’s the gold standard, with a personal service from a team of experienced dental and legal advisers who are available 24/7 to assist any member in professional difficulty.

We offer breadth and depth of experience in defending members successfully before the General Dental Council and in negligence claims. We use discretion positively to provide assistance and meet claims that an insurer might very well turn down.

It is imperative that patients have access to redress when things go wrong. Our occurrencebased indemnity has no time limit or cost cap on liability. This means that we can help members for any claim that arises, even if they have moved abroad, ceased clinical work, retired or are deceased when the claim or complaint arises. This has to be the safer option – for professionals and patients alike.

And increasing numbers of dentists agree. Last year, MDDUS dental membership in England, Wales and Northern Ireland rose by almost a third, while total dental membership in those countries has doubled since 2015. In England alone, our dental membership jumped by more than 40 per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year. Market share in Scotland stands at approximately 70 per cent and is now above 20 per cent elsewhere in the UK and growing fast.

MDDUS Head of Dental Division Aubrey Craig believes this sustained growth is built on a firm commitment to quality and an indemnity model that provides comprehensive protection.

He said: “Increasing numbers of dentists are putting their trust in our professionalism, responsiveness and value in an increasingly tough environment where claims and GDC referrals continue to rise.

“We believe that members benefit by having their case managed by the same team of expert advisers however the case evolves, rather than being passed from one to another and on again as a complaint changes to a claim, a GDC case or an inquest/fatal accident inquiry.”

Dentists won’t have failed to notice that GPs in England and Wales joined the statebacked indemnity schemes, CNSGP and GMPI on 1 April, but there are many risks these new government schemes won’t cover. Doctors within the schemes will still need MDDUS membership for advice on complaints and ethical dilemmas, and claims arising from non-NHS work. We will continue to offer legal representation at inquests, GMC hearings and disciplinary investigations. Such situations can seriously impact upon the reputation and career of any professional and could ultimately result in being struck off.

There has been no appetite in the NHS for extending these schemes to dentists. We understand, with our experience in dealing with claims against dentists, that it is often difficult to separate which treatments in the same tooth were carried out under the NHS and which were paid for privately. This is a level of complexity that simply does not apply in the new GP schemes, making it unlikely that the Government will extend the schemes to dentists, given the relatively low-value claims involved.

Alternative commercial insurance products are becoming more widely available, but dentists must be sure of exactly what will – and won’t – be covered. Unlike insurers, we’re not in it for the profit, we have no small print to hide behind and we provide greater protection than the commercial alternatives available.

Typically with a claims-made product, you are transferring the risk to your insurer one year at a time, until you retire. If you simply want to change back to a traditional indemnity provider, you will either have to buy potentially expensive “run-off” cover or take on the risk of any unknown claim personally.

The benefit of our occurrence-based product is that you transfer the risk to us permanently, no run-off cover is necessary. Yes, it may be more expensive than an insurer in the short term, but you buy lifetime peace of mind.