I imagine you think that getting indemnity cover for practising as a dentist would be a straight forward thing. Well it is, but are you getting adequate cover?
The General Dental Council (GDC), issued guidelines that currently state that dentists are ethically required to have appropriate professional insurance or indemnity cover provided by a Defence Organisation. This cover is supposed to provide protection to dentists’ patients should the patients have the misfortune of suffering negligent dental treatment, and should allow patients to obtain adequate dental compensation for the harm they have suffered.
This is where it gets a bit tricky. As it states you should have appropriate insurance or defence organisation cover, but how do establish if the cover is appropriate. Two key points to consider here is how you are being covered, by an insurance policy or by being a member of a defence organisation. An insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company for how they will cover you, contractual and enforceable, with the right to recourse against the provider should the need arise. As a member of a defence organisation you have discretionary cover (not insurance) granted to you for being a member, however, it is up to you to request assistance and it is at the discretion of the defence organisation if they grant it to you. Regulation is the main difference between these two methods of cover, insurance is heavily regulated while discretionary cover is not regulated at all.
You may think that discretion is not exercised, but it is, an example being Dr D’Mello who had cover with a defence organisation and was refused assistance. An extreme case granted, but not an isolated one. You rightly expect after paying the member fees for many years that you should be assisted. Examples like this are why the Government is currently reviewing the indemnity landscape for healthcare professionals to ensure they have adequate cover. The UK is the only EU Member state (apart from Ireland and Malta) where discretionary indemnity is still allowed, which means that UK dental patients may be left without adequate provision for compensation.
As an insurance broker the right option seems to be to make insurance compulsory, not just because I am an insurance professional, but because it provides clarity, certainty and ultimately competition in to a market that has been dictated by a few dominant organisations.