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Malpractice for Dentists

April 12, 2016

Lawsuits against Florida dentists claiming workplace discrimination are on the rise. In fact, employment-related discrimination claims are more frequent with healthcare providers, including dentists, than with any other type of risk. With a sagging economy and high unemployment due to consolidation in the dental healthcare industry, employees are suing employers as never before. The moment a dentist begins to interview, he or she is at risk for a discrimination-related lawsuit.

Workplace employee discrimination goes far beyond sex and race discrimination. Today, employees in dental offices are suing for discrimination based on age, disability (both visible and psychological), sexual orientation, religion, national origin, appearance, weight, and gender identity.

It is also becoming easier for employees of dental offices to communicate with other employees and with the outside world about unacceptable and potentially discriminating workplace behaviors, thanks to new digital platforms.

Dental employees who are “different” may face taunts from other employees, from employers, and even from patients. They may feel the painful effects of exclusion or ostracism. Today, instead of complaining or retreating, they are apt to sue the dentist employer.

A dental patient may claim that he or she was refused treatment because of his age, weight, sexual orientation, or nationality. An Employment Practices claim could be brought against a dentist, claiming that she was discriminated against because she was overweight.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Gracey-Backer, Inc. strongly recommends that Florida dentists purchase Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to protect the practice from lawsuits by employees, independent contractors, patients or vendors for the above-mentioned accusations of discrimination, and other accusations that their legal rights have been violated. The EPLI policy will also assist the dentist in setting up policies and procedures designed to prevent an employment-related claim. If one occurs, the dentist has somewhere to turn—almost like having a skilled labor attorney on retainer. EPLI policies will reimburse the Florida dental office against the costs of defending a lawsuit in court and for judgments and settlements. The EPLI policy covers legal costs, regardless of whether the dentist wins or loses the case. EPLI policies typically do not pay for punitive damages or civil or crimnal fines. Liabilities covered by other insurance policies such as general liability and workers compensation are excluded from EPLI policies.

Employment Practices Liability premiums are extremely reasonable, even when third-party discrimination is included. A small dental office in Florida can expect to pay under $2,000 for $1,000,000 coverage. The rate is based on the number of employees in the dental office and other risk factors such as whether there has been a prior employment-related claim.

Remember that just one single employment-related lawsuit can ruin a dental practice and take up an extraordinary amount of time. Every Florida dental office should carry appropriate EPLI coverage. Even if the practice has not experienced an employment-related claim in the past does not mean that one will not happen in the future. If an employee or third party makes an accusation, you must still pay to defend yourself, even if you are innocent!

For more information and for a no-obligation quote, kindly call the experts at Gracey-Backer, Inc. Please remember that quotes are free and we are here to assist you, the Florida dentist, in protecting your practice through quality insurance products.

Barbara Gracey Backer

Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at

March 29, 2016

YES. The history of medical and dental malpractice insurance over the last twenty years is one of a shifting marketplace. Medical malpractice insurers have come and gone and come again. Today, there is a lot of competition for dental professionals of all kinds. Rates for medical and dental malpractice insurance have gone up and come down and are now stabilized, due to the effects of Florida tort reform, competition for a limited number of physicians and dentists, and effective risk management.

When new dental malpractice insurance companies come into Florida, the obvious way for them to garner business is to either purchase a medical malpractice insurer or drop rates to be competitive. This creates a buyer’s market for Florida dentists.

While a Florida dentist still has to be concerned about switching insurers too often, he or she can easily do so early in the career. After that, he or she has to be concerned about securing a free tail policy, which usually requires him to be with the same company for five or more years.

Independent dental malpractice agents represent several companies. The major players in Florida now

  • Fortress Insurance Company
  • The Doctors Company
  • Professional Solutions Insurance Company
  • Medical Protective Company
  • C N A
  • Dentist’s Advantage Insurance Company

An independent agent who is skilled in dental malpractice insurance can steer the Florida dentist to the right company. Depending on their location, specialty, claims history, nearness to retirement, and office structure, any of these excellent companies may be the best for them. And the best may change through the years.

Gracey-Backer, Inc. is one of the oldest and largest dental and physician/surgeon malpractice insurance agencies in the State of Florida. We have been through hard and soft markets. We have helped dentists and physicians with all sorts of “issues”. We have excellent relationships with most of the major dental and medical malpractice insurance companies in Florida. We are willing to shop your policy every year among our strong medical malpractice companies. Our staff is thoughtful, kind, and puts the interest of the client above all.

Because Gracey-Backer, Inc. is a “full service” insurance agency, we can also help the Florida dentist and physician with their other insurance:

  • Office Policies
  • Personal Home and Auto Insurance
  • Personal Umbrella Policies
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Cyber Liability Insurance
  • Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Please call today for a no-obligation quote. Remember…quotes are free!!

John Gracey Backer, CPA

John Gracey Backer, CPA, is the Treasurer of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Malpractice, Professional and Personal Insurance for the Healthcare Provider. He can be contacted at 800-272-6055 ext 128, or at

February 16, 2016

You are a dentist ready to begin practice. You have spent years in dental school. You may have student loans that you need to begin paying. You have expenses that seem overwhelming. Have you considered dental malpractice insurance?

The good news is that the process is relatively simple and discounts for dental malpractice insurance for the new dentist are widely available.

First, contact an insurance agent who specializes in sales and service of dental malpractice insurance. A general lines agent will likely represent several dental malpractice insurance companies. This is important to give you a choice based on premium, coverage, and strength of the company. You must have a valid license to begin the process and you must complete an application. Unless there are complications, the policy can likely be written within 24 hours.

Two types of dental malpractice insurance policies are widely available: claims-made and occurrence. Your agent can explain the differences to you and recommend the best option for your particular situation. We generally recommend a claims-made policy unless the “tail” becomes an issue with your future employer.

Rates vary by state. Florida is one of the more expensive states for dental malpractice insurance. The good news is that there are several strong dental malpractice insurance companies operating in Florida, thereby keeping dental malpractice premiums down.
Most dental malpractice companies offer premium discounts to the new dentist. These range from new-to-practice discounts to risk management discounts to discretionary discounts for larger dental groups. Some dental malpractice companies rate up for procedures such as surgical placement of implants or extraction of impacted teeth. Some rate up for IV and IM sedation. All will rate up if you are an Oral Surgeon or practice under general anesthesia.
Your agent should recommend other coverages to lessen your potential exposure to risk, such as cyber liability coverage and coverage from wrongful employee dismissal and sexual harassment claims.

Talk with your dental malpractice agent about your entire insurance program. He or she should be able to assist you in creating a package of insurance protection that will last throughout your career.

One more suggestion regarding professional liability insurance: inquire if you can add additional coverage, such as wrongful employee dismissal and sexual harassment claims, to your malpractice policy. It will increase the cost of your annual premium, but it is well worth it.

Barbara Gracey Backer

Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at

January 19, 2016

Like any other medical professional, Florida dentists are very susceptible to being sued for dental malpractice by their patients. Even with the best dental care, a Florida dentist is open to lawsuit just by the nature of his practice. When a patient alleges dental malpractice from his or her dentist, he really means that the dentist has operated or failed to operate in a manner which deviates from the Standard of Care in his or her community.

Dental malpractice lawsuits are expensive, both monetarily and emotionally. Even if the case is dismissed, the Florida dentist can still spend an inordinate amount of time and money defending him or herself.

Some common causes of malpractice lawsuits against dentists include:

  • An error during a dental procedure, either by the dentist or by his or her staff
  • Failure to give all treatment options to a patient
  • Lack of informed consent by the patient
  • Product liability – using faulty equipment, products, oral devices and materials
  • Extraction of the wrong tooth
  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of oral disease such as cancer
  • Failure to follow up a procedure or abandonment of the patient
  • Failure to refer a patient to a specialist
  • Lingual nerve injury, including jaw, chin and lips

Even if the dentist takes proper precautions to avoid a lawsuit, such as communicating clearly, following up on missed or cancelled appointments, performing proper informed consent, and keeping accurate records, a dental malpractice lawsuit can still occur. These lawsuits can be expensive, time consuming, and damaging to the physical and emotional well-being of the dentist, his or her family and staff.

It is always important for a Florida dentist to purchase dental malpractice insurance. There are a number of dental malpractice insurance companies operating in Florida now. This is good, because strong competition keeps premiums down. Gracey-Backer, Inc. currently represents four of the major carriers. Each has an appetite for a different specialty and each offers its own pricing. All of them offer excellent coverage with the top dental malpractice law firms. Each covers the costs associated with a lawsuit (defense costs, court fees, settlements, and judgments.) Coming to us allows the Florida dentist to compare dental malpractice coverage before he or she purchases it, both from a cost and coverage perspective.

Barbara Gracey Backer

Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at

September 28, 2015

Florida Dentists are retiring. What are the dental Malpractice insurance considerations?
As more and more Florida dentists and oral surgeons consider retirement, what should they be thinking about as far as their dental malpractice insurance is concerned?

Being Sued After Retirement

A Florida dentist should make sure that he is covered for future dental malpractice insurance claims that might be levied against him after he closes his dental practice. Because of the long nature of dental malpractice claims, patients may sue their dentist or other healthcare provider long after the actual work was done.

The occurrence malpractice insurance policy

If a Florida dentist has an occurrence policy, the process of setting up insurance for retirement is fairly simple. The occurrence policy works like automobile insurance. The Florida dentist purchases the occurrence policy for a set period of time (usually one year) and coverage is provided up to the policy limits for work done during that year, regardless of when a malpractice lawsuit is brought. If the Florida dentist cancels the occurrence policy when he retires, and then has a claim brought against him, he is covered by the policy in force when the incident occurred. So, a Florida dentist with an occurrence policy can essentially cancel it upon retirement and not worry about future dental malpractice claims.

The claims-made policy

If a Florida dentist has a claims-made policy, he needs to be sure that he has planned for claims that might be brought against him after he retires.

The claims-made medical malpractice insurance policy covers claims brought against the Florida dentist during the policy period, as long as the work was performed after a set date (retroactive date). When a Florida dentist retires, he cannot just cancel the claims-made policy and walk away. He needs to be sure that a “tail” policy is in place. The “tail” policy will then cover him for the rest of his life (and his estate beyond that) for any claim reported after the cancellation of the claims-made policy, as long as the work was done after the retroactive date and prior to the issuance of the “tail” policy.

A free vs. purchased “tail” policy

Most Florida dental malpractice insurance companies make provisions for the “tail” policy. Some companies offer a free “tail” policy if the dentist has been insured by the company for five or more years and completely retires from the practice of dentistry. (He may be able to practice dentistry on a volunteer basis.) There may be an age stipulation (retire after age 55, for example). Other companies automatically offer the Florida dentist the option of purchasing a “tail” policy, thus allowing the dentist the ability to submit a claim after he retires and after the regular dental malpractice insurance policy is cancelled.
If the Florida dentist has to purchase a tail policy, the cost can be 1.5 to three times his annual premium. For this reason, it is imperative that the dentist know his tail options well in advance of his retirement.

If the Florida dentist is thinking about switching dental malpractice insurance carriers with retirement on the horizon, he should discuss the tail implications with his dental malpractice insurance agent. It may not make sense to switch, even if the annual premium is lower, if he cannot qualify for a free tail upon retirement. The new dental malpractice insurance company will not honor his time with the previous dental malpractice insurer as far as earning a free tail is concerned.

Another point to remember is that the company from which a Florida dentist purchases or is given a tail policy should be financially strong. Once the tail policy is purchased or earned, that coverage is locked down with the dental malpractice insurance company for the entire retirement. The tail policy cannot be cancelled once bound. If the dental malpractice insurance company becomes insolvent, the dentist is on the hook for a claim that might be brought against him.

As a Florida dentist can see, it is extremely important to be represented by a dental malpractice insurance agent who understands the complex issues of dental malpractice insurance, and specifically tail insurance. The peace of mind a dentist has earned can be shattered in retirement by a faulty decision on dental malpractice insurance.
We at Gracey-Backer, Inc. are Florida’s leading dental malpractice insurance agency. We represent four of the strong dental malpractice insurance companies in Florida. Not only can we “shop” your insurance among our “A” (Excellent) rated carriers, but our professional agents can advise you on this and other important medical malpractice issues.

Barbara Gracey Backer

Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at

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