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Safeguarding Your Dental Practice: The Vital Role of Property Insurance in Natural Disaster Preparedness

Property insurance is essential for dental practices. When selecting an insurance carrier, carefully consider the carrier’s ability to provide attentive service and accurately assess any loss. Adequate insurance is just one of the steps you can take to prepare for natural disasters. 

When natural disasters strike, the continuity of your dental business can be severely jeopardized. That's where property insurance steps in as a crucial safeguard, providing protection and peace of mind in the face of unexpected events.

The Role of Property Insurance 

Dental practices are not immune to the devastating effects of natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes and other severe weather systems. These events can cause extensive damage to your building, equipment and even patient records. Without proper insurance coverage, the financial burden of recovery could be overwhelming, potentially forcing you to suspend your practice indefinitely. 

Property insurance plays a pivotal role in protecting dental businesses by covering the costs associated with property damage and loss. When choosing an insurance carrier, here are several critical factors to consider that indicate the carrier’s ability to manage disaster claims effectively: 

High level of policyholder service. Seek an insurer known for responsive, personalized service. Quick and efficient communication is essential during times of crisis, so you can focus on getting your practice back on its feet.

John Busschaert, senior claims representative at The Dentists Insurance Company, shares how he and his colleagues responded to one recent disaster. 

“As soon as we heard about the devastating wildfire in Maui, our claims representatives started searching our databases for the dentists we cover in Lahaina. We began trying to contact them immediately to check on them. TDIC claims representatives were actively taking steps to begin providing services to our policyholders even before they formally filed claims.” 

Consulting experts on the ground. A reputable insurance carrier will have access to experts who can physically assess the damage on-site and make accurate estimates of the repair costs. These professionals can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your specific situation throughout the claims process. 

“To correctly calculate a claim, we don’t want to guess or assume anything without getting thorough information from experts on the ground,” explains Busschaert. The experts consulted will vary from claim to claim, depending on the severity and type of damage. Some of the experts that TDIC regularly calls on to help evaluate claims are independent claims adjusters, accountants, building inspectors and trade specialists.

Understanding of dental practice and equipment. A dentist-centric insurance carrier that understands the type of equipment used in your practice, the way your office is set up to serve patients and how a dental practice functions differently than other businesses is valuable. With a focus on dentistry, loss of equipment and income calculations are fine-tuned rather than pulled from an average of many other types of businesses in your geographical area. 

Dental equipment is highly specialized and costly. To provide the most accurate claim estimates, your insurer should have a deep understanding of the unique types and value of equipment. Following a disaster, closing claims can take an extended amount of time if they must be subrogated for third-party fault, like when a utility company’s equipment sparks a wildfire. It's practical to be covered for up to 24 months of loss of income, including coverage of staff salaries. 

Avoiding concentration of policyholders. While selecting an insurance carrier that has many property policyholders in your area may seem logical, it can be a disadvantage. In the event of a widespread disaster affecting your region, having fewer policyholders in the same location reduces the risk of delayed claims processing due to overwhelming demand. Avoiding a concentration of policyholders is possible when you select an insurer who is focused on dentistry. 

TDIC’s response to the Maui wildfires illustrates how selecting a specialized carrier can be advantageous. 

While claims representatives quickly identified affected policyholders, they were also prepared to distribute money to them almost immediately. 

“Our property policy allows $100,000 for extra expenses following total loss, which can be used for things like setting up practice temporarily and renting equipment,” Busschaert explains. 

Unlike less-specialized carriers who were inundated with both property and personal loss claims following the disaster, TDIC’s claims department was able to respond swiftly with a high level of service to their policyholders, sending out checks for extra expenses within days of the catastrophic loss. 

Understand your exclusions. Property insurance policies commonly exclude certain disasters from coverage. For instance, flood insurance is typically purchased, when required, through FEMA, so flood coverage is excluded in property policies by insurance carriers. Most carriers have a sewer backup exclusion, requiring their policyholders to add it back to the policy with an endorsement, which costs more. TDIC does not have a sewer backup exclusion, which can be an added value to policyholder’s commercial property policy. 

Preparing for Natural Disasters 

In addition to securing robust property insurance, preparation is essential for minimizing the impact of natural disasters on your dental practice. TDIC’s risk management experts cite these key steps:

  • Data backup. Not only is it important to have backups for your computer systems and patient data, but it’s also critical to make sure those backups are tested and working as expected. Regularly back up your electronic records off-site to safeguard critical information. 
  • Inventory management. Maintain an up-to-date inventory of your equipment, supplies and valuable assets. This list will be invaluable when filing insurance claims to help establish the extent of your losses. One fairly simple way to document the contents of your practice is to make a video tour of the office. 
  • General maintenance. If you own the building in which you practice, invest in regular maintenance and safety precautions. This can include fire safety measures, ensuring proper drainage to prevent flooding, removing overhanging tree branches and clearing drains and scuppers before and after winter storms. 

By selecting the right insurance carrier and taking steps to protect your practice, you can ensure the business’s resilience and continuity in the face of nature's unpredictability. Don't wait until disaster strikes. Act now to safeguard your livelihood and the practice you’ve invested in. 

Author Colette Johnson is a skilled senior property claims representative with over 22 years of experience in the industry. She joined The Dentists Insurance Company in 2017 and uses her specialized property claims experience to assist dentists in getting back to seeing patients. Connect with a TDIC insurance expert in your region for a free policy review.

TDIC’s Risk Management Advice Line is a benefit to TDIC policyholders. To schedule a consultation with an experienced risk management analyst, visit or call 1.877.269.8844.

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