The Cure for Dental Office Losses

September 14, 2010

Every dentist faces the prospect of contents losses at their office. While an ounce of prevention is wise, a pound of cure in the form of insurance is essential.

Obviously, no dentist wants to have their business disrupted by office contents losses. Unfortunately, these incidents are relatively common. Among dentists with office coverage from the Canadian Dentists’ Insurance Program (TripleGuard™ Insurance), approximately 1 in 12 will file claims for office losses in a given year. The majority of these claims stem from incidents involving theft, fire and water damage.

Clearly, it’s important to implement controls and procedures to help limit your exposure to these types of perils. For practical suggestions to help you do so, refer to the brochure: Office Losses and You — Protecting Your Practice. It’s available by clicking on “Loss Prevention” at www.cdspi.com/claims.

But even the best-laid precautions can’t guarantee that your office won’t suffer a loss totalling many thousands of dollars. Just consider the following real-life cases of dentists who experienced unpreventable office losses.

A Double Break-In

During a long weekend in 2009, thieves broke into a dental practice located within a shopping mall. The culprits broke a glass door to access the mall itself, and then broke a sliding glass door pane to access the dental office. Inside the clinic, the thieves stole camera and computer equipment. They also vandalized the reception area, causing damage to carpet and window coverings.

Fortunately, the dentist kept copies of invoices and receipts of the stolen items. This quickly allowed the insurer to determine their replacement value—expediting his claim. The dentist received an office contents insurance claim payment of approximately $12 500.

Fire Above

During an autumn morning last year, staff at a dental office noticed smoke was billowing into the practice. They contacted the fire department and evacuated. Firefighters discovered that due to mechanical failure, a fire had erupted within the rooftop HVAC unit. Fortunately, there was no fire damage to the office beyond the unit, but there was significant smoke damage inside the practice.

The dentist had the HVAC unit annually serviced (which had been done just months before the fire). The insurer determined the unit’s mechanical failure could not have been foreseen, and was not the result of anyone’s action or inaction.

The dentist received an office contents claim payment of approximately $22 000 to cover repair and clean-up costs. She also received a practice interruption claim payment of approximately $12 000 to help replace lost income while the office was closed during repairs.

An Underwater Operatory

In 2010, severe flooding occurred at a dental practice situated in a shopping centre—resulting from a water main that had ruptured below the office structure. The insurance adjustor’s report noted that water was approximately 2- to 3-feet high in some areas of the 7-operatory clinic. In addition to structural damage to the facility, much of the dental and office equipment in the practice suffered beyond-repair damage. Because of the extensive water damage, a computer consultant was not able to retrieve data from every computer in the office.

At the time of writing, this claim was not entirely settled, but the insurer estimates the cost of replacing the damaged dental and office equipment alone will be approximately $400 000.

Review Your Office Contents Coverage

These claim scenarios illustrate why it’s imperative to have insurance. It’s equally important to ensure your coverage is up-to-date. Your office contents are only covered up to the amount of your loss—and then only to the limit of insurance you’ve paid for. Therefore, if the cost of replacing the existing contents of your office with equivalent items has gone up over time—and you haven’t increased your coverage amount accordingly—you could be caught short when the bills roll in. Therefore, it’s advisable to review your office contents coverage with your insurance advisor whenever you upgrade items in your practice—and make any necessary adjustments to your coverage.

For a no-cost review of your TripleGuard™ Insurance, call us at CDSPI Advisory Services Inc. Dial 1-877-293-9455, ext. 5002.

THE AUTHOR

Ms. Whiteman is a professional insurance advisor at CDSPI Advisory Services Inc. Email: insurance@cdspiadvice.com

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