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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

Disability and Malpractice Insurances

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As a practicing dentist, a myriad of insurances are necessary for comprehensive coverage encompassing every aspect of the profession. Two important among these are malpractice and disability insurances. Certain key concepts of malpractice and disability insurances must be understood in order for one to successfully obtain coverage for these aspects, and are discussed below.


Differentiating Between Coverage Options

First, malpractice insurance is essentially professional liability insurance; one of its key features, among others, is to protect from failure to diagnose. Coverage for malpractice insurance may either be “claims made coverage” or “occurrence coverage”. The main advantage of claims made coverage is affordability, while the main disadvantage is the possibility of needing a tail policy upon leaving the initial policy. Occurrence coverage covers claims that occur during the policy period regardless of the time at which they are reported. The main advantage of occurrence coverage is that no tail policy is required, while the main disadvantage is the higher cost of the policy. This higher cost is effectively pre-paying for the tail policy.


Next, it is crucial to remember that malpractice claims must meet two conditions. The first condition is that they must be reported while the coverage is still valid. The second condition is that they must occur subsequent to the retroactive date shown on the policy. Finally, in order to determine whether an insurance is the correct fit, the following are valid questions to ask an insurance agent:

1) What is the premium structure in subsequent years?

2) Are there discounts available for new graduates?

3) Does the policy cover legal defense for board investigations?


Disability insurance protects a dentist’s most valuable asset – the ability to earn a living. After numerous years of training, and often a substantial accumulation of debt, it is imperative to be able to earn a regular income. This is why disability insurance is so critical. Moreover, according to the ADA, about 1 in 4 dentists experience disability long enough to collect benefits at some point prior to quitting work. Therefore, it is not an issue limited to a negligible number of professionals in the field.


A few important things to consider with this insurance are whether the premium is level or graded, whether there is a future increase option, and whether there is guaranteed renewal. A level premium remains the same throughout the lifetime of the policy; on the other hand, a graded premium has lower premiums at a younger age and increases as age increases. Next, a future increase option allows you to increase insurance coverage as income increases, without any medical re-consultations. Last, guaranteed renewal is an important feature that ascertains the policy cannot be canceled as long as fees are paid. These details are crucial to understand before purchasing any disability insurance.



In conclusion, after securing basic insurances such as health insurance and life insurance, disability and malpractice insurances are two very important insurances for a practicing dentist. Given the nature of the profession, these two insurances are key towards achieving peace of mind throughout the span of one’s career.




1. Dental Professional Liability. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.fdaservices.com/insurance-programs/professional-liability/


2. Disability Insurance for Dentists | ADA-Sponsored Insurance Plans – Insurance for Dentists and Their Practices. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from https://www.insurance.ada.org/ada-insurance-plans/disability-insurance.aspx


3. Disability and Office Overhead. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.fdaservices.com/insurance-programs/disability-and-office-overhead/