Understanding the Cost of Malpractice Insurance for Dentists
January 24, 2024
Reading time: 5 minutes
In this article, dentists will understand how malpractice insurance is priced, including the factors that go into the cost of dental malpractice insurance. By learning the factors that play into the price of a malpractice insurance policy, dentists can ensure they are getting the best policy for the best price. This article answers common questions dentists may have about the cost of dental malpractice insurance.
- How the price of malpractice insurance is set
- What factors go in to the cost of malpractice insurance
- How malpractice insurance is selected and purchased
Dental care is a primary health service for U.S. patients. In 2020, the dental services market was valued at $109.28B, and it is projected to grow to a value of about $196.18B by 2027.
As the field continues to expand, so does the need for reliable and fairly priced dental malpractice insurance. This important coverage can be different than medical malpractice insurance, which doesn’t always fit the unique risks and needs of dental professionals.
If you’re a new or soon-to-be graduating dentist, getting proper malpractice insurance is one of the best steps you can take for your career. Even if you’re a long-time practitioner, it’s always a good idea to revisit your current plan to ensure your coverage needs are being met.
The cost of malpractice insurance coverage is an important expense you’ll need to consider throughout your career. That’s why we put together this helpful guide to answer your questions about coverage costs for dentists. It will help you understand how dental malpractice insurance pricing works and how certain factors—like carrier choice, where you practice, and the makeup of your practice—can affect your cost. We hope it will help you make a more informed decision when buying, or renewing, your dental malpractice insurance.
Who Needs Dental Malpractice Insurance?
In most states, the law requires that dental professionals carry malpractice insurance. During dental school, you were likely insured through your university. After you graduate, you’ll need to get your own malpractice insurance.
As a new dentist, the cost of acquiring and maintaining malpractice insurance might seem daunting, especially if you have student loans. With this in mind, some insurance companies, including MedPro, offer discounts or credits on premiums for new dentists to make purchasing a policy more affordable.
At MedPro, we offer New-to-Practice (NTP) credits for the first three years of practice. These credits can help dentists make the transition from student to professional with less financial stress. Since the average dentist is sued at least once in their career, it makes protecting yourself with the right malpractice insurance that much more important. Malpractice insurance provides protection for your practice, assets, and reputation, as well as your investment in a highly specialized education!
How is the Price of Dental Malpractice Insurance Determined?
To understand how much malpractice insurance costs for dentists, it’s important to understand the different factors that can impact what you pay.
In addition to industry claims trends, the cost of dental malpractice insurance is typically driven by two sets of factors, which we’ll dive into below.
While we can’t speak for other insurance companies, these are the factors used to structure pricing at MedPro Group:
- Your factors:
- Profession — For example, certain specialties carry a higher risk and may have higher premiums.
- Coverage — It’s worth noting that Occurrence and Claims-made policies have different pricing structures.
- Location — Some states and counties experience more malpractice claims than others, driving up coverage costs.
- Others — Additional factors, like how many hours you practice or your claims history, can also affect your cost.
- Your malpractice insurance company’s factors:
- Market Trends — Based on claim and lawsuit trends across the industry, prices can change.
- Claims — The majority of our expenses goes toward protecting you through claims management and defense.
- Operating costs — We try to keep our operating expenses low, while ensuring we can pay our bills and employee salaries.
- Stability — As a Berkshire Hathaway company committed to being around for the long haul, our rates are built to be stable and sustainable.
How is Dental Malpractice Insurance Selected and Purchased?
An insurance carrier issues your policy and is responsible for providing your coverage. You can buy your policy through an agent or broker, or directly from a carrier. While agents can facilitate your policy purchase, carriers provide the actual coverage.
How you buy malpractice insurance varies depending on your situation. For example, a dentist with their own practice will purchase insurance differently than one employed by a large group.
Why Don’t All Malpractice Insurance Carriers Charge the Same Price?
Many factors go into a personalized quote for dental malpractice insurance. While similar data may be used to determine pricing, each insurance carrier has their own method for weighing each factor. In addition to reviewing your personal information, local regulations, and claims trends, the company also considers their own unique risks and business philosophy.
Though it may feel like comparing apples and oranges when you try to review your options, it might help to keep these questions and answers in mind:
Q: Don’t all insurance carriers essentially offer the same dental liability product?
A: The short answer is no. From claims defense strategies to coverage types offered, malpractice insurance companies each have their own method of reviewing applications (underwriting) and determining pricing. This can explain some of the variation in pricing from two carriers who seem to be offering the “same” product.
Pro Tip: Be sure to read the fine print on any policy you may be considering. Also ask about additional coverages to better understand the full scope of your policy and better understand what determined the bottom-line cost. Buy what will keep you well-covered and consider if “extras” make sense for your needs.
Q: How can I get the lowest price possible on my dental malpractice insurance?
A: As you work through how much malpractice insurance will cost you as a dentist, you may find yourself tempted to go for what seems like the lowest cost option – especially if you’re new to the field.
Be careful not to sacrifice the strength of your coverage for a lower price. The right policy will include all the coverage and protection you need at a fair price. While cost is an important factor in your decision, choosing a reliable carrier that has the resources to provide you with strong coverage and protect you against claims comes first.
Pro Tip: Buy solid coverage upfront. You’ve worked too hard to get where you are – don’t look at just the price tag of a policy. It may cost you thousands of dollars down the road if a claim is ever filed against you.
Now That You’re Informed, Get Protected.
Carrying dental malpractice insurance will help you protect yourself from a patient incident or injury lawsuit and safeguard your career, your reputation, and your practice.
Ultimately, you’ll want to strike a balance between finding the lowest price and getting the malpractice coverage you need and deserve.
Additional Coverage content
In this real-life case study, you'll see how a dentist's decision to switch malpractice insurance providers—without purchasing tail coverage for his previous policy—led to a costly malpractice lawsuit
This document does not constitute legal or medical advice and should not be construed as rules or establishing a standard of care. Because the facts applicable to your situation may vary, or the laws applicable in your jurisdiction may differ, please contact your attorney or other professional advisors if you have any questions related to your legal or medical obligations or rights, state or federal laws, contract interpretation, or other legal questions.
MedPro Group is the marketing name used to refer to the insurance operations of The Medical Protective Company, Princeton Insurance Company, PLICO, Inc. and MedPro RRG Risk Retention Group. All insurance products are underwritten and administered by these and other Berkshire Hathaway affiliates, including National Fire & Marine Insurance Company. Product availability is based upon business and/or regulatory approval and/or may differ among companies.
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