If an oral surgeon or a dentist has a claims-made professional liability policy that covers claims arising from acts that happened prior to the inception date of the current dental malpractice policy, this is referred to as “prior acts coverage”.
For instance, if an insured dentist or oral surgeon has a retroactive date of January 1, 2010 and a policy period of January 1, 2011-2012, and a claim occurs on July 1, 2011 based on work the oral surgeon or dentist performed on July 1, 2010, the dental malpractice claim is covered by his “prior acts” coverage. If an insured dentist or oral surgeon switches carriers, maybe looking for a lower premium or joining a group insured with another dental malpractice insurance carrier, the new malpractice insurer may provide full prior acts coverage—back to the retroactive date on their dental malpractice insurance policy.
If the insured is without coverage or “bare” and submits an application for insurance, the carrier will not provide prior acts coverage, but, rather, will set the retroactive date and the effective date as the same.
The purchase of prior acts coverage on a dental malpractice insurance policy eliminates the need for the dentist or oral surgeon to buy a “tail” policy from the prior malpractice carrier upon cancellation of that coverage—assuming the effective date of the new dental malpractice coverage is consistent with the prior policy and, therefore, there is no gap in coverage. It allows a dentist or oral surgeon to seamlessly switch dental malpractice insurance carriers throughout their career without having to purchase “tail”coverage.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.