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 have told us they are concerned about indemnity and what’s happening in the market, so we’ve 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.
Until a few years ago, professional indemnity had been a fairly non-contentious area in the lives of UK dentists. More recently the BDA has received many comments and questions from members about their experiences in this area. The comments have related to price, fairness, treatment of members and transparency of action and reliability. The strength of feeling went on to fuel debate across BDA committees, including at the General Dental Practice Committee and motions at the national conference of Local Dental Committees.
Our routine surveying of member views reinforced the fact that something in the world had changed and that members expected the BDA to do something about it. We committed to a workstream in our three-year strategy to explore this area just as the Government announced major changes to the way General Medical Practitioners were to be indemnified. Just afterwards the Government announced its own concerns about the way indemnity is delivered and launched a public consultation into the subject. So, it’s not just dentists who are concerned.
Our offering has been designed in such a way that the criticisms and concerns of members in relation to the current arrangements have been addressed. In addition, we have taken on board the comments in the Government consultation paper and have addressed the concerns that are described there. So, our offering will represent the best-of-breed for current circumstances and will also be future-proofed against any changes that come about as the consultation.
About the policy
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.
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).
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.
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.
The traditional insurance model isn't sustainable in the long term - look
what happened 20 years ago when The St Paul (a US insurance company) left the
UK indemnity market overnight. What happens to policy holders if it doesn't work out?
The single biggest difference between the cover that we provide and St Paul is that theirs was claims-made and ours is occurrence-based. Theirs ended with the ending of the policy and ours endures indefinitely.
We have explained in detail to RSA what UK dentists need and they share our ambition to provide a truly supportive dentist-centred offering. We can have confidence in an internationally respected insurer who has signed up to enduring cover for policy holders.
The BDA is owned and run by its members. It's a not-for-profit organisation – all the income is reinvested for the benefit of the profession. How does this fit with the new relationship with the insurer?
The challenge for UK dentists today is the vast array of compliance and regulatory matters that demand their attention. In amongst those there are civil liabilities and threats to their professional regulatory status. We believe that adding this element of cover to our membership offering allows us to make sure that there are no gaps or voids. It means that we can invest upstream and downstream to help dentists avoid trouble and to assist them when trouble comes and finds them. This is entirely in keeping with what the BDA was founded for.
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.
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.