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Your questions answered

Policyholders, please call us on 020 7535 5858 or email indemnity@bda.org.


About the policy

What does ‘occurrence-based’ mean?

With occurrence-based cover, as long as you are paying the right subscription rate at the time the incident occurred that later gave rise to a claim, you will be covered in perpetuity. This means that if you did something negligent but retired the next day and stopped your payments, even if the complaint and legal claim is made against you three years later, your policy will respond.

 

I’ve heard that some cover is discretionary. What does this really mean?

Ours is insurance-based indemnity which operates on the same basis as other forms of insurance. The policy wording specifies what is covered by this agreement as well as being transparent about the term, conditions and policy exclusions.  If you are declined cover, you can complain to the BDA in the first instance.  If you are not satisfied with the final response from BDA, you can then refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). That same legal protection does not exist with discretionary cover: the organisation can exercise its absolute discretion not to assist you, even if you are in the right subscription category, have paid the correct fees and the matter is within the scope of cover – and there is no independent source of adjudication. Whilst it rarely happens, as a mutual fund, a refusal to assist an individual member can be argued to be justified on the basis that incurring the costs of the case would not be in the interests of other members.

 

What's covered?

It's a unique policy designed for dentists and dentistry. It's specifically designed for UK dentists and the wide range of work they do. The cover is for all the things that dentists generally do, including tooth whitening and dental implants (including sinus lifts and bone grafts), the dental specialty of oral surgery and the use of cosmetic injectable procedures throughout the face.

 

What's not covered?

Because this is a policy for dentists who are delivering dentistry, the medical specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery is not covered.  Procedures in the neck or other parts of the body are not included, and certain types of specialised cosmetic facial procedures (even when used in the face) are similarly excluded. See our flowchart to assess whether or not the surgical procedures you carry out are covered.

 

Is my business covered?

When a patient makes a claim, they may pursue a company (or owners), as well as an individual dentist. A Limited Company (or PLC/LLP) is a legal entity in its own right and could face legal action itself. In addition, NHS contracts may require such cover to be in place. You therefore need to ensure that your business has indemnity cover itself. This is referred to by different providers as entity cover, corporate indemnity, corporate medical malpractice or contingent liability. Find out more including arranging entity cover with Lloyd & Whyte, the BDA’s financial services partner.

 

Are my nurses covered?

Yes, if you purchase the policy as an Expert member practice owner, any nurses employed by you are indemnified for negligence claims, compliant with GDC regulation. 

 

Would a member who only does a few implants each year be less of a risk than one who does more?

Dental implants are now a recognised element of the range of clinical options. But by their nature the complexity of the risks involved and the costs of putting things right is of a different order to non-implant dentistry. There are two ways of looking at this: do more, become more proficient, present less risk. Or, do fewer, present fewer opportunities for things to go wrong, present less risk. Our view is that it is difficult to call and so we believe the fairest way is to price both ends of the spectrum the same.

 

How is this different to what's already out there?

In developing this product, we have achieved a number of components that buck the trend in the wider market. The indemnity insurance policy is written on an occurrence-based contractual basis. This means that members will be offered the best of the insurance element (contractual certainty) together with what has been the best of the MDO world (protection in perpetuity). Even more remarkably we have achieved the same terms for the legal expenses cover (we believe that this is the only one of its kind to offer occurrence-based cover).

 

 

Eligibility

Who can apply?

Any GDC-registered UK dentist can get a quote and we'd encourage you to do so. Members can apply after receiving the quote. 

 

Why does an employed dentist with employer indemnity need additional cover?

Many dentists working in various branches of the salaried services are oblivious to the variety of ways that gaps can exist in their professional protection. Our cover is designed to 'wrap around' the employer-provided indemnity, giving the member extra peace of mind.

 

What happens if I join or upgrade my membership and then my indemnity application is unsuccessful?

If you join the BDA to take advantage of the indemnity cover but your application is unsuccessful, we will refund your membership fee. If you upgrade from one package to another to be eligible to purchase the cover then we will refund the difference and revert your membership to the original package.

 

 

About entity cover

What is entity cover and why might I need it?

As a result of recent legal decisions in cases brought against dental practices, it has become clear that both individual practice owners and any entity (Limited Company or partnership) that owns and operates a dental practice, could be held liable for the actions of a self-employed dental associate who may have provided negligent treatment to a patient seen in the practice. This is not a new law, but reflects recent changes in the approach being taken by patients' legal representatives, especially those conducting cases on a 'no win-no fee' basis. These firms are encouraging patients to sue a practice owner (or entity) rather than the dentist(s) who actually carried out the treatment.

 

Increasingly in recent years, both practice owners and associate dentists have set up limited companies on the advice of their financial advisors to manage their dental income and their tax position. NHS Providers have also chosen to incorporate in order to protect their NHS contract and goodwill value.

 

Whilst all practising dentists are required by law to have their own professional indemnity in place, to cover their own acts and omissions, it is important to note that in most cases this indemnity arrangement is personal to the individual dentist and will not cover claims brought against the Limited Company, this being a separate legal entity.

 

This means that a claim which is brought against the entity that you have shares in would only be covered if the entity has its own separate insurance, or if the entity is specifically named as a party covered by your personal insurance policy (or membership of a discretionary indemnity provider). Failing that, the company could be forced to pay any damages and the patient's legal expenses out of its own resources, and additionally to find and pay for its own legal representation and other costs incurred in defending the claim.

 

Is BDA Indemnity Entity Cover a stand-alone product that any Limited Company can buy?

No. It is only available to Limited Companies which are wholly or partly owned by one or more BDA Indemnity policyholder(s). Those BDA Indemnity Policyholders must collectively own 50% or more of the company. Only individual registered dentists who are in an appropriate tier of BDA Membership can apply for and hold a BDA Indemnity policy.

 

Is the cover legally binding and occurrence based?

Yes to both. Although many organisations choose to offer entity cover only on a 'claims made' basis, or on a discretionary basis (or worse still, a discretionary claims made basis), BDA Indemnity was set up with the deliberate intention of avoiding the many gaps that can arise in relation to claims made cover. Reflecting that, and the fact that a practice owned by a Limited Company might face additional vulnerability because of these gaps, we have taken care to ensure that both individuals and entities can enjoy the added protection of occurrence based, contractual indemnity insurance.

 

This is particularly valuable in the case of claims which relate to treatment which was provided by dentists who no longer work at the practice, perhaps having left many years ago. Occurrence based indemnity provides cover in perpetuity, irrespective of how many years later a claim is brought and without the need to buy any additional ('run off') cover.

 

Is there any limit on the size of corporate/Limited Company that can be covered by BDA Indemnity?

Not in terms of the number of dentists, or the number of practices/sites. But the BDA represents, advises and supports dentists, and BDA Indemnity was never designed to cover large corporates, especially not those which are majority-owned by non-dentists. For that reason, and to avoid smaller dental practices having to subsidise the larger corporate groups, we have chosen to use gross turnover as an approximate measure of practice size, limiting our entity cover to those with an annual gross turnover of £2million or less. Below that level, the pricing varies for different levels of turnover. Above that figure we will obtain a quote directly from RSA.

 

Does it involve a separate Policy, with different Terms and Conditions to the Policy for an individual dentist?

No. It is an optional extension to a BDA Indemnity policy held by any individual dentist who wholly or partly owns a Limited Company. The Schedule to the dentist's own BDA Indemnity Insurance Policy is endorsed to confirm that the entity becomes an additional named Policyholder. So the cover and policy wording is identical to that for an individual dentist, and the aggregate £10 million limit of cover for any policy year is for both the individual and the entity. 

 

Does it only cover the entity for negligence claims?

No - as stated above, the policy wording and scope of cover is exactly the same as for any individual dentist. So it includes a vicarious liability extension, cover for registered dental nurses employed by the entity, legal costs cover for a wide range of challenges and investigations arising from the practice of dentistry (eg CQC, Information Commissioner, Advertising Standards Authority, Health & Safety Executive etc), and crisis management cover to provide advice and representation in mitigating any potential reputational damage to the entity from adverse media (or social media) attention resulting from a claim covered by the policy.

 

Is the price fixed and flat-rate, or does it take any account of whether or not the dentists working in the entity are BDA Indemnity policyholders?

In the interests of fairness, there is a sliding scale discount on the premium for entity cover, depending on the proportion of dentists working in the entity who hold a BDA Indemnity policy. This discount can be up to a maximum of 50% where more than 70% of the dentists working for the entity are BDA Indemnity policyholders.

 

Can I backdate this entity cover?

Yes. If you are an existing BDA Indemnity policyholder you can purchase retroactive cover back to your start date with BDA Indemnity, so that your entity is covered on the same terms and for the full period that you have been a BDA Indemnity policyholder (please note that this is subject to a maximum of three years if you joined BDA Indemnity before that).

 

Please complete the application form and return it to indemnity@bda.org to apply

 


​Pricing and payments

The cover has been arranged putting members at the heart of it. It's unique to dentistry and we've worked hard to price it so it's fair and accessible. There will be members for whom our price isn't cheaper than their current provider, but hopefully the combined package of membership plus indemnity over is worth more than the sum of its parts. Remember, not all policies and scope of cover are the same.


If you offer discounts on the indemnity product for part time dentists, can you do the same for membership?

Our membership rates are driven solely by providing the availability of advisers and the materials they produce. Indemnity is different in that the more time you are chairside the greater the chance that you will perform a clinical intervention that may need designated time and expenditure on their behalf.

 

I've recently qualified. How am I catered for?

We might not be competitive on price - we'll be clear about that from the beginning. Other traditional providers discount heavily for recently qualified members to incentivise them to join but this has to mean that others are subsidising them. Ours is a fair product that's not subsidised by others, including maxillofacial surgeons, doctors and dental members from other countries.

 

We think that as a professional your risk is your own and shouldn't be subsidised by anyone else's. 

We have managed to offer some special prices which rise incrementally the longer you are qualified to get to the full standard rate.

 

Will I have one subscription or two?

There will be two separate subscriptions: one for the traditional membership and one for indemnity cover.

 

Are there any special discounts for BDA Good Practice members?

Not at the moment. One of the benefits of our integrated offering is that over time we will get better and better claims experience data. In time we may be able to reflect that in the different rates we charge.

 

How about partners who jointly own their practice. Will we pay for two memberships to access two indemnity packages?

Professional liability insurance, otherwise known as indemnity cover, is personal protection from claims. The Dentists Act 1984 (Amendment order) 2005 introduced the need for all registrants to have adequate and appropriate professional indemnity. This became a legal requirement with the 2015 Rules, reducing the likelihood of a dentist being uninsured and unable to pay compensation. Part of the reason RSA was keen to work with us is because membership enables members to mitigate risk by taking advice when they need it. That philosophy meant the premiums could be fairly priced. BDA membership is for individuals and not to be shared.

 

Why are you not including these services under membership?

The protection and cover provided is different. Indemnity cover is a legal and regulatory requirement. We've built in additional dentist-led legal protection to bolster the professional liability insurance so that members get complete end-to-end cover. We respect each member’s right to choose their indemnity provider, and it’s only fair to price the two elements separately. That way, we avoid cross-subsidies between those members who choose BDA Indemnity, and those who do not.

Think of Extra and Expert membership as the prevention - advice for business matters and to avoid issues day-to-day. Indemnity is the 'cure' when there is the possibility that the practice of dentistry may have gone wrong.

 

How will you balance the needs of the insurance providers and the best interests of members?

The reason for choosing Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance is because they listened to us about dentistry and appreciate how it's unique. They understand how dentists work and they recognise the central importance of dentists supporting dentists. They are very supportive of our first point of contact role in making things right for our members.

 

You're asking members to upgrade their membership to save money on indemnity. What's the rationale behind that?

Part of the reason the insurer was keen to work with us is because Extra and Expert membership enables members to mitigate risk by taking advice when they need it. That philosophy meant the premiums could be fairly priced.

 

Why does it matter which part of the UK a member works in?

The claims experience and value is lower in Scotland so members working there get cheaper indemnity.

 

 

The Background

Our indemnity offer represents yet another piece in the jigsaw designed to make sure members are properly equipped to thrive in today’s professional environment.

Members told us they are concerned about indemnity and what’s happening in the market, so we responded.

The combination of this new offer together with our vast knowledge base provides a powerful solution for members when things go wrong.

We’ve built in additional dentist-led support to bolster the professional liability insurance so that members get complete end-to-end cover. It’s unique to dentistry and we’ve worked hard to price it so it’s fair and accessible. 

 

 

If you have a question not answered here, please email indemnity@bda.org.