Dental indemnity or insurance?

ALL dentists are required by the GDC to ensure that patients are “able to claim any compensation they may be entitled to by making sure you are protected against claims at all times, including past periods of practice.”

This is currently a professional rather than a legal requirement.

But in October 2013 a new EU directive will come into force requiring by law that “systems of professional liability insurance, or a guarantee or similar arrangement that is equivalent or essentially comparable as regards its purpose and which is appropriate to the nature and the extent of the risk, are in place for treatment provided”.

A number of members have recently called MDDUS asking if this means dentists will need an insurance product rather than access to indemnity as is provided by MDDUS.

The short answer is “no”. Back in June of 2010 an Independent Review Group appointed by the Government made recommendations on UK compliance to the EU directive. In its report, the group concluded that requiring healthcare professionals to have indemnity or insurance cover in place as a condition of their registration was the most cost effective and efficient means of achieving the policy objective. The group made clear that either indemnity or an insurance product would be adequate to comply with the EU directive. The Department of Health has accepted these recommendations and, therefore, there is no specific stipulation that dentists will be required to have only an insurance product in place and not an indemnity product.

Membership of the MDDUS provides occurrence-based indemnity. This means that members are eligible for assistance for all events that occur while you are a member, regardless of when an actual claim is made. You will enjoy the full support of MDDUS even if you have moved abroad, ceased clinical work or retired. Insurance products operate in a completely different way; they usually only guarantee protection if you are insured both when the incident occurred and when the claim is made. The crucial importance of this lies in the fact that medical and dental malpractice claims can be made several months or even years after the events that give rise to the claim.

Occurrence-based indemnity, as offered by the MDDUS, can meet claims that arise from treatment carried out in the past without the need for any further premium to be paid and can protect the member in perpetuity. There is no financial cap, or limit per claim, as is often the case with insurance products.

Claims-made insurance only covers you for the period for which the policy is in force. Claims from the past may have to be covered by the payment of an additional premium or run-off cover. This is in effect a “hidden” cost and risk of insurance.

Aubrey Craig, head of dental services, MDDUS

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