The increasing importance of comprehensive indemnity – Richard Lishman

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  Posted by: Dental Design      2nd August 2018

The possibility of a claim being made by an unhappy patient has always been a very real threat, but according to Dental Protection this risk has doubled over the course of the last decade. Dentists working in the UK are now twice as likely to receive a claim for clinical negligence, and it is expected that a full time practitioner will receive two claims over the course of their career.[i]There are a number of possible reasons for this, including greater expectations from patients and an increase in media coverage.


According to a recent YouGov survey undertaken on behalf of Dental Protection,[ii]39% of the public admitted that they have higher expectations of the quality of the treatment dentists provide now, compared to 10 years ago. What’s more, 23% said that they would consider taking legal action against their practitioner if their treatment led to problems or complications. The data also found that 43% of the public believe there are more marketing campaigns from ‘no win no fee’ firms in comparison to five years ago. This further supports the theory that the media has played a huge part in the rise of claims made against UK dentists. When combined with the increased ease with which patients can now make a complaint, it’s clear to see why this risk of a claim is now such an issue. But what is being done about it?


There have been a number of calls from key figures and organisations within the profession for a package of legal reforms surrounding dental complaints, including the introduction of fixed recoverable costs, which would put a cap on the amount of legal costs owed. Were such a reform passed it might help to lessen the financial impact that litigation is currently having on dentists.


To protect against allegations or claims, dentists need to have appropriate dental indemnity insurance. There are two types of policies available: occurrence based and claims-made. An occurrence based policy provides cover against any claim made against a practitioner as long as it occurs during the agreed policy period – it does not matter when the claim is made. For example if the professional changed insurer at the start of 2018 but then received a claim later on in the year for an incident that took place in December 2017 they would still be covered as the event happened within the time frame covered by the original policy.


A claims-made policy is different in that it provides coverage for claims made during the policy period. That means once the policy period expires or if the practitioner moves to a different insurer the cover ends regardless of when the incident occurred. Consequently, if a dental professional is looking to take out this type of indemnity they would need to ensure that a policy is always in force, otherwise there is the risk of a gap in protection. In the event that the practitioner decides to take time off work, go on maternity or retire from dentistry, run-off cover can be purchased to extend the reporting period. This provides protection and peace of mind whilst not actively practising.

When choosing a policy, it’s also important to consider whether it’s available on a contractual or discretionary basis. Some defence organisations only offer discretionary cover, which means that despite having a policy, they can opt not to provide protection and representation should a claim be made. As such, there’s no way of knowing if the policy will provide the necessary cover until an accident actually occurs, by which time it would be too late. A contractual policy, on the other hand, provides clear and concise terms that lay out exactly what is and isn’t covered, offering complete peace of mind.


To make sure you’ve got optimal protection in the event a claim is made against you, discuss your options with a dental specialist adviser. At insurance4dentists there are a range of niche indemnity insurance policies available at competitive prices, meaning you are sure to find the right policy, whether you’re a British citizen or new to the UK. Even if you’ve been refused insurance by another provider or defence union, insurance4dentists can help you get protection.


As the risk of a claim being made by a patient continues to rise, there can be no doubt that comprehensive indemnity cover is more important than ever. To make sure you’re protected, take the right steps today.


For more information please call 0845 345 5060 or 0754 DENTIST. Email info@4dentistsgroup.comor visit


[i]Dental Protection: Legal reform to tackle rising cost of clinical negligence is long overdue. Published 23 June 2017. Accessed online 24 April 2018 at

[ii]Dental Protection: Public believe marketing campaigns by ‘No Win No Fee’ firms are on the up. Published 16 April 2018. Accessed online 24 April 2018 at

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