Being a member of a protection society is much more than simply having someone to pay cheques if you are sued. It is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have experienced professional colleagues to help and advise you on any dento-legal problem and from knowing that the world's largest team of specialists in this field will be on your side, to protect and support you when it matters most.
Dental Protection is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Medical Protection Society which exists specifically to serve the needs of the dental members of MPS. MPS is not an insurance company but is a non-profit making mutual association of doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals. It does not exist to make profits and has no share holders, its funds being owned entirely by its members.
Dental members working in Southern Africa need hardly be reminded of the increasingly accountable environment in which we work - both in terms of litigation and complaints including complaints to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
Serving over 62,000 members world-wide, Dental Protection has 58 dento-legal advisers working in its UK offices as well as a network of Local Advisers and schemes of co-operation world-wide. The international perspective gives Dental Protection a full understanding of the challenges which affect dental professionals world-wide.
In South Africa Dental Protection works with an experienced panel of attorneys to ensure that members have the best legal representation when the need arises.
- Protecting the professional integrity of members
- Advice and assistance, including legal advice and assistance in all matters which challenge a dentist's professional integrity
- Indemnity for the dentist against costs and damages in clinical negligence claims. We are not an insurance company and the benefits of membership are discretionary.
- 58 dento-legal advisers who are all experienced with special legal expertise and a network of local advisers world-wide, provide expert guidance and support to members in difficulty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition local panels of Attorneys with specialised knowledge of dento-legal matters support the dento-legal advisers and members in any country in which we operate.
- An independent and confidential counselling service specifically to assist members suffering from stress as a result of dento-legal issues.
Educational materials - publications focused on the many aspects of risk management and other issues relating to the dental profession. In particular our own publication, Riskwise South Africa, provides regular risk management information to members.
Occurrence-based indemnity and commercial insurance companies
Dentists in Southern Africa have traditionally enjoyed stability in their professional indemnity subscriptions which are still significantly lower than many other countries in the world. Dental Protection offers "occurrence-based" indemnity in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association. The sole requirement is that you were a member on the day the patient is treated and this enables you to seek assistance for any claim or complaint that arises in the future as a result of that incident. This is very different from the type of indemnity offered by commercial insurance companies, whose aim is to make a profit, which is usually offered on a claims-made basis. This means that the insurance policy must be active at the time that the claim is made.
Dentists have found themselves without cover by failing to maintain a policy after retirement or during temporary periods of absence from practice. Further information on the difference between claims-made and occurrence-based indemnity products is available on Dental Protection's website.
The advantage for a commercial insurance company offering claims-made policies is that it can leave the market (and cut its long-term liabilities) at any stage thereby leaving dentists with significant amounts of unindemnified practice if the company does not offer insurance arrangements to cover the tail (the incidents which have occurred but which have not yet been reported). The pattern of commercial insurance companies leaving doctors and dentists stranded, has been repeated in every continent around the world. This is the exact opposite to the track record of mutual organisations such as ours. By offering indemnity on an occurrence basis it means we are in for the long stay. But, this is hardly surprising given that our only reason for being in existence is to support the interests of members.
As a dental member you are supported by the largest and most experienced team of specialist colleagues in the dento-legal field. When it matters most, you need this kind of strength on your side. You are also a member of the largest, strongest and best funded mutual organisation for dentists in the world. Mutuality provides a very special sense of security and belonging to a strong and successful international dental family - quite different to being a small policy holder of a faceless global insurer who treats dentists as an insignificant part of their overall business. For Dental Protection dentistry is our business and we care about the profession because we are also part of it ourselves.
At the end of 2012, MPS had more than £1.8 billion in total assets
Answers to a few commonly asked questions regarding the differences between indemnity and insurance
The DPL counselling service has been introduced specifically to assist members suffering from stress as a result of dento-legal issues