Under the Umbrella: Can Dentists Be Insured for Every Eventuality Ever?


As a dentist, it’s essential to protect yourself against possible legal claims. If you own a dental practice, a business owner’s policy (BOP) can help protect you, your employees, and your business against legal issues like property damages and personal injuries incurred on your business premises.

However, BOP coverage is usually capped. What happens if you face a claim worth more than your insurance policy can cover? That’s where umbrella insurance for dentists can take effect.
Umbrella insurance is a type of extended coverage that increases your liability limits. It gets its name from the idea that it fits over your existing policy, like a BOP, like an umbrella – offering added protection. But can umbrella insurance protect you fully against every event you may face as a dental practice business owner? No. Read on to find out more.

Why Should You Consider Umbrella Insurance for Dentists?

If you already have a business owner’s policy for dentists, you may assume that your coverage is sufficient. A BOP is indeed a wise investment. This package policy brings together commercial property and liability insurance in one. However, BOP coverage has limits.

What a BOP Does and Doesn’t Cover

A BOP for dentists is similar to a homeowner’s policy for your business and can protect in instances such as:
  • Damages to your business premises. Incidents like fire, vandalism, or hail can damage your business property. For an incident to be covered, it must be named in the list of covered perils. The policy may exclude extraordinary events like floods.
  • Lost business income. If your dental clinic is damaged because of fire or a similar disaster, you will likely have to pause your operations until you’ve fixed the damage. A BOP can cover lost business income while you wait for repairs to be completed.
  • Premises bodily injury. If a person is injured in your practice, they may take legal action. For example, if an individual experiences a slip-and-fall and breaks their ankle on your dental clinic’s premises, they seek compensation for medical bills and wages lost due to time off work.
  • Products bodily injury liability. If you advise a patient to use a dental product, and they get hurt using that product, they may seek compensation. For example, you recommend a patient uses an electric toothbrush, and they damage their gums using the device and develop an infection.
  • Advertising and personal injury liability. If you are accused of stealing somebody’s intellectual property or making libelous or slanderous claims about them (also known as defamation), they may take legal action. Advertising and personal injury coverage can help in such cases.
These are just a few general possibilities of what BOP may address. The precise details of what a BOP does and doesn’t cover – and how much coverage is included and under what circumstances – will be outlined in each policy.

How Umbrella Coverage Supplements Your BOP

Depending on how it’s written, your BOP will cover you when disasters like those described above strike – but only up to a certain amount. For example, a standard BOP may cover up to $2 million per claim. That probably sounds like a lot and as if it will be more than sufficient. Unfortunately, it may not be.

Take an incident like a fire, for example. This can damage not only your business structure but also valuable tools and technology inside of the building. Further, if your dental practice is housed in a larger facility and the fire started on your premises, you may be held liable for fire and smoke damage to surrounding residences or businesses. These costs can add up to more than $2 million.

Product liability claims can easily exceed $4 million, for example, with the highest median awards falling in the medical products area. Meanwhile, defamation cases in the healthcare field are on the rise, with cyber defamation cases in particular gaining prominence. Ensuing litigation has seen several plaintiffs awarded millions of dollars’ worth of damages.

The point is that while a $2 million liability limit may seem sufficient (and, in many instances, it will be), it isn’t always going to be enough. When those rare instances arise that exceed your BOP limit, having umbrella insurance for dentists can help protect you financially and bring added peace of mind. Depending on the policy, an umbrella liability may increase limits to as much as $10 million.

Say you have a claim worth $6 million, for example. Your BOP offers coverage of up to $2 million. The BOP will pay the first $2 million of the claim. Your umbrella coverage will then cover the remaining $4 million. Without it, you’d face paying that sum out of your pocket.

Will Umbrella Insurance Protect You Fully in Every Circumstance?

Umbrella insurance for dentists essentially extends the financial limits of your existing BOP. It will not provide coverage for events that are excluded from your BOP. For example, if your BOP explicitly excludes property damage related to unforeseen circumstances like a flood, your umbrella insurance won’t be able to help.

Your umbrella simply provides additional liability coverage beyond the limits of whatever underlying policy it fits over.

To fully understand what you are and aren’t protected against, read the fine print of any insurance policy application. The underwriting process is extremely detailed, and a professionally drafted policy should explicitly define what is and isn’t covered. You will likely find that insurance underwriters include events you wouldn’t have considered a possible business threat – like nuclear war.

The reality is that there is no single type of insurance coverage that will protect you fully against every circumstance. Not even insurance underwriters could foresee situations like the COVID-19 pandemic (which is now raising coverage debates – specifically, as to whether business interruption insurance should cover a pause in operation related to COVID). That said, in the future, insurers are likely to address points like pandemics and stay-at-home orders in their underwriting.

Secure Increased Protection for Your Dental Practice Today

Although umbrella insurance for dentists can’t cover every unforeseen circumstance, it provides valuable coverage that can help protect your business in case of lawsuits.

Dentist’s Advantage offers umbrella insurance to increase your BOP coverage limits.

Request a quote now.