While there are many factors that go into choosing the right dental or medical malpractice insurance policy, here is a Top Five list of things we feel are essential considerations in making the choice:
1. Insurance policies aren’t all equal, nor are they the same. There can be vast differences between the policies offered by dental or medical malpractice insurance carriers. Often there will be exclusions against specific procedures. Your broker should review policy definitions and exclusions to confirm the policy presented fits your coverage needs. This is particularly important if you are purchasing a policy from an excess and surplus lines company, often referred to as a non-admitted company.
2. There is a lot more to an allegation of dental or medical malpractice than just the money one may have to spend. The reputation of your practice can be on the line, so you won’t want to have a carrier settling a case against you without your explicit consent. Your policy should include an iron clad consent clause. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST! In an ideal world, one should never give up the right to consent to settlement of a lawsuit. The policy should clearly and implicitly state the carrier cannot settle a case without the insureds consent. In some cases, the only coverage available to a practice may be one which does not include a consent to settle clause. In such a situation, one must accept what coverages can be found, even if that means giving up the right to consent to settle.
3. Aggressive defense of claims and lawsuits can be a very important facet of dental and medical malpractice insurance coverage. Ask for the company track record in cases that have gone to trial. Ask for the data on cases that are settled as well. Poor data can be an indicator of a company that doesn’t aggressively defend policyholders.
4. Be wary of companies that require an arbitration agreement. The choice to use arbitration agreements should be just that — a choice. Arbitration is not right for every practice, so discuss the pros and cons with your broker before choosing to implement arbitration forms.
5. Find out which attorneys the company uses and whether you will have any say-so in the choice of legal counsel. This is really important if you have an established relationship with a defense attorney whose services you would like to use in the event of a malpractice insurance claim.
Though this may seem like a lot to consider (and this is just a part of all of the factors, variables and options in a Professional Malpractice policy,) a good broker will go over all of the important issues with you and act as your advocate. Often you must strike a balance between the lowest medical malpractice insurance rates and a quality insurance company that will be there when you need them.
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