There are two forms of dental malpractice insurance that a dentist can purchase. These are claims-made policies and occurrence policies. This article will focus on the occurrence policy. Dentists customarily purchase an occurrence policy in the following situations:
- The company just offers the occurrence policy;
- They are practicing part-time (less than 20 hours per week) and are unsure of their future;
- They are working for a larger practice and do not want to have to purchase a tail policy if they leave;
- They are nearing retirement and do not want to deal with a tail policy issue;
- They are currently working in Florida but may plan to move to another state.
What is an occurrence policy? An occurrence policy protects a dentist from a lawsuit based on an incident which occurred based on work he did while the dental malpractice insurance policy is in force. The dental malpractice insurance policy then covers those dental incidents forever. For example, a dentist purchases an occurrence malpractice insurance policy in 2010 and treats client X in 2011 and then terminates the policy in 2012. In 2014, client X sues the dentist for an incident based on work he did in 2011. The dentist is covered because he was insured by the occurrence policy in 2011, the year he treated client X. With an occurrence policy, it does not matter if the dentist is covered when the lawsuit is brought against him.