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Not All Orthodontic Malpractice Policies Are the Same

Whether you are fresh out of school or an experienced professional, malpractice claims are a risk everyone in the orthodontic field faces. And—no matter how meticulous you are in your work—it only takes one dissatisfied patient who perceives a mistake to put you at risk of being sued. That is why it is important to ensure you have adequate coverage before beginning to practice.


Ensure You Have Adequate Coverage

If you have started a new position, ask how insurance is handled and what you need to do to be covered. Though many orthodontists rely on a decision made by their employer or group, entrusting this choice to someone else—without fully recognizing what that means—could leave you with inadequate coverage if a claim arises.


So, before you start, ask questions. If you are included in your employer's insurance, ask to see the proof of coverage (whether you are a named insured and what the limits are) under the employer's plan. If you are not included in that policy, you will need to get an individual policy to protect your career.


If you determine you have a policy with your employer, make sure it provides adequate coverage—whenever the claim might occur. This is critical knowledge to ensure your career and reputation are protected.


Seek to Understand the Terms of Your Malpractice Policy

Whether you have a group policy through your employer or an individual policy, it's critical you understand its terms[TB1] .


Though many terms in your policy may be difficult to understand[TB2] , learning the differences between claims-made and occurrence policies and the role of tail coverage can help ensure you're protected. If a claim occurs, the timing will be key… and the type of policy will be critical.


Consider All Aspects

When evaluating your malpractice policy, consider the following:

  • Claims-made and occurrence policies have differences in how they provide coverage depending on the timing of the claim. Claims-made policies are usually less expensive than occurrence plans, and they are triggered only when the claim is filed—so the policy must be in effect at the time the claim is filed for coverage. Conversely, occurrence policies provide coverage for treatment rendered or for incidents that occurred when the policy was in effect regardless of when the incident is reported.
  • Tail coverage may be needed with claims-made coverage because this type of coverage will not cover claims filed after the policy has been terminated or cancelled. There are many circumstances that could require tail coverage (e.g., a leave of absence or retirement).
  • Supplemental corporate or partnership (entity) coverage is needed in addition to an individual malpractice policy if you have a corporation or partnership to ensure practice owners are adequately covered in case of a claim. This coverage can be selected with separate or shared limits.
  • Separate limits coverage may be selected if you own all or a portion of your practice because it allows defense costs and indemnity payments on behalf of your practice that are separate from your individual policy.
  • Shared limits coverage may be considered if you prefer to share your individual policy limits with your corporation so that defense costs and indemnity payments are paid on behalf of you and your practice.  
  • Risk management helps reduce exposure to liability and the likelihood of claims. AAOIC offers a free, robust risk management program which includes a two-year 10% premium reduction when completed.


Choose Your Best Ally

AAOIC can become your greatest defense because we are managed by orthodontists like you. Our sole focus is providing malpractice insurance to protect your career. You can trust us to fight for you because our coverage was Created by Orthodontists, for Orthodontists®.


We will never settle a claim without your consent (pure consent to settle), and we have the financial strength and experience to fight for our members. In fact, we have been defending orthodontists for more than 26 years, and—with billions of dollars backing us—we are always prepared to support our policyholders.


Still Have Questions?

Check The Orthodontists' Guide to Malpractice Insurance to learn more. Or contact one of our specialists at 800.622.0344 to better understand the differences in an AAOIC malpractice policy.



 [TB1] link to "How Much Do You Know About Your Malpractice Insurance?" Q3 2020

 [TB2]link to "Understanding Your Malpractice Policy Can Help Keep You Protected" Q4 2019