In line with the GDC’s direction, we are reminding you that it is necessary for you to have indemnity or insurance, as a statutory requirement. Indemnity is different from employer liability insurance or public liability insurance, and provides security or protection against a loss.
Dentists may think of indemnity as a means to protect or defend themselves, however, the GDC requires it to be in place to compensate patients in cases of clinical negligence. This means that if a claim is settled or defended, the indemnity provider can take on the financial burden when necessary.
Many indemnity providers offer additional services, such as support in front of the regulator and assistance with a disciplinary matter or a complaint against the dentist. As dento-legal advisors are usually highly experienced dental clinicians with knowledge of legal issues, most providers can offer additional advice and guidance in relation to broader dental practice queries.
The GDC has revised guidance on professional indemnity and insurance cover, which will become effective on 12 February 2024. It is vital to ensure you understand the difference between the various indemnity providers and know what their cover includes.
The main difference between indemnity providers is whether they offer occurrence-based or claims-made cover. The main distinction being whether you need to still have an active contract with the provider when a claim is made (claims-made) or if you were with the provider at the time of treatment or incident but no longer have an active membership (occurrence-based).
Some insurance policies are occurrence-based, like BDA Indemnity. At first glance, a claims-made insurance product may seem more cost-effective, however, you are likely to need retrospective cover or run-off cover if you decide to move between providers. This is an important question to ask when considering your indemnity provider. The other significant difference is between discretionary cover versus a contractual arrangement.
It is important to also remember that whilst there is a statutory need for practising clinicians to have indemnity for clinical negligence claims, you should also ensure you have legal expenses cover. This covers the costs of legal advice and representation in any GDC fitness to practice investigations.
You should always ask questions prior to taking out any level of indemnity. The GDC expects the registrant to have appropriate cover, so you will need to understand what this means for you based on your individual circumstances.
If you are unsure about the suitability of your current arrangements, speak to your provider straight away. Without appropriate indemnity or insurance, you must stop practicing as you could find yourself barred from work.