Insurance for dental practitioners is a top priority on the path to a successful, headache-free career. But what kind of insurance do dentists need, and what coverage levels should be considered?
Not having a straight answer can keep you from getting the right policies, or getting any policies at all. Knowing your options can make it easier to make the right choices for you, your family and your practice.
There are four main types of coverage that you can have as a dentist; malpractice insurance, disability income insurance, term life insurance, and home & auto insurance. Let’s review the coverage levels, which ones are mandatory, and which ones you should consider even if the law doesn't require you to have them.
1. Malpractice Insurance
In many states, malpractice insurance is required by law. Malpractice insurance, also called professional liability insurance is designed to cover you in the event that a patient accuses you of malpractice. I.e. care that was rendered or should have been rendered.
Malpractice insurance generally provides the insurance companies experience in your malpractice defense, as well as payment of defense costs and coverage for any payments payable to the plaintiff. If there's ever a claim against you, malpractice insurance may help protect you, your practice, your reputation, and your personal assets.
Given the importance of malpractice insurance, working with an advisor familiar with the malpractice insurance needs of a dentist and the options available to you, may help simplify the process of this important coverage. In addition, many insurance companies may offer significant discounts for those entering private practice for the first time. Other potential ways to reduce the cost for malpractice insurance may include risk-management courses offered by the insurance company as well as a history of being claims-free.
2. Disability Income Insurance
When you have disability income insurance, you may be paid a portion of your income if you become too sick or injured to continue your career as a dentist. It's not the same as worker's comp insurance, which is typically limited to payments for illness or injury that occur on the job.
Disability income insurance also covers you if you're injured or become sick based on something that happened to you outside of work. If you're in a car accident and unable to work, for example, disability insurance may help replace some of your lost income.
Disability income insurance policies can be customized to your individual needs and should periodically be revisited to ensure the amount of coverage is appropriate. As your income from dentistry increases, it is often prudent to increase your disability insurance coverage level.
3. Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is especially valuable for younger dentists with young families as it may allow high levels of coverage at a relatively modest cost. Term life insurance policies may provide for a level premium for a stated number of years i.e. 30 years. The younger you obtain term life insurance, the lower the premium.
Term life insurance may be used to provide protection for your family in the event of your untimely death, may be required to secure a bank loan for your business, and is often used to fund business continuation agreements i.e. the death of a partner in your practice.
But no matter what the need is or when you choose to buy it, you'll have a long list of options to choose from. Take the time to prepare discussion points and ask questions when you're getting a policy. Working with a firm that is familiar with the life insurance planning needs of dentists may help facilitate the discussion.
4. Home & Auto Insurance
There are several factors that affect your home and auto insurance premiums, including how often you drive, where you live, your past driving record, and more. These personal factors lead many dentists to explore options from different insurance firms than their professional policies.
However, it’s generally a good idea to get your home and auto insurance with the same insurance firm as your professional insurance so you can consolidate all of your policies in one place. Given the busyness of most dentists, having one phone number to call may be a significant time saver.
This can simplify your insurance management, including tracking premiums all in one place and provide options for bundles with multiple policies. It's also convenient for when you need to make an adjustment to any of your policies.
Similarly, you’ll already have an insurance agent that can make suggestions and recommendations based on any new needs. That can help you make important decisions, like whether you want to buy a new home or a different car based on the overall status of your coverage.
Get the Right Insurance Coverage for Your Needs
These four types of insurance are important for dentists in any phase of their career, and in any specialty. If you don't have all the coverage you need yet, or you're thinking about adding to policies or making changes, you want to work with a company you can rely on.
Contact us at Treloar & Heisel today, to find out about coverage options. We can help make sure you have all the protection you need for your growing dentistry career.