We’re here to help!
As we are all facing unprecedented change & uncertainty, we wanted to reach out to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about insurance, employees & best practices. Our offices are open and fully staffed. We anticipate the ability to remain fully staffed during this time and are here to help.
We appreciate your patience as we are receiving a large number of phone calls, emails. and slower response times from insurance carriers.
Can I suspend my malpractice coverage while I’m not working?
Some malpractice insurance carriers, such as Fortress, OMSNIC & Proassurance do allow policy suspension for a minimum of 90 days. The requirements and discounts vary by carrier. We are currently researching additional information about this & how carriers will specifically treat situations related to Coronavirus. We will provide as soon as it is available.
Will my malpractice policy provide coverage if a patient contracts or alleges that they have contracted Coronavirus from treatment in my office?
We believe that if this type of allegation were made, it would be defended by your professional liability policy. Patient allegations of treatment related injuries are what the professional liability policies were designed to address. There are coverage exclusions found in every insurance policy but we see nothing in the exclusions associated with the common dental professional liability policy that would concern us regarding this type of allegation. Proving that the patient was exposed at the dental office due to the negligence of the doctor and staff would appear to be difficult in most cases though.
Do I have business interruption coverage for Coronavirus?
The short answer is that no insurance coverage exists for this issue. The Business Owners policy (BOP) includes loss of business income coverage but it only applies to certain types of events. That coverage is unlimited and paid at “actual loss sustained” for up to 12 months but is only triggered when the insured office is damaged beyond use by a covered peril on the policy, and will only be paid during the term of the restoration of the damaged premises. Common perils covered by the BOP policy are fire, windstorm, water damage (excluding rising flood waters as mentioned), hail, burglary/theft, vandalism and damage caused by a vehicle or aircraft to name a few.
It’s our opinion that there would not be any coverage with regard to any shutdown stemming from the Coronavirus. There just isn’t an insurance option currently available to cover the loss of business income due to a pandemic. For a dental practice owner, a loss to business income (and even property) is not insurable with regard to certain risks like a pandemic, acts of war or nuclear radiation. Even more common risks such as flood, earth movement, rot, mold or wear and tear to name a few are found in the list of excluded perils on the common Business Owners Policy policy (BOP).
Should I close my office?
Please look to your state dental association for guidelines and best practices. We have heard that the Virginia Dental Association has recommended a 2 week office closure to protect dentists, staff and patients. Following is a link to their announcement:
If I have to close my office, will the government provide financial assistance?
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities as well as updated on our website: SBA.gov/disaster.
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.
For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does my workers compensation policy cover payroll for employees who I have to lay off or are afraid to come to work ?
Workers comp has nothing to do with unemployment. Workers comp covers on the job injuries and illness suffered by employees. If you had to lay employees off, they would be eligible to collect unemployment. Refer to your state unemployment agency to better understand how layoffs could affect your employees and your business’ unemployment tax rate.
Will my workers compensation policy cover an employee who contracts Coronavirus while at work?
Workers comp covers the expenses associated with an on the job injury or illness suffered by an employee including paying the employees lost income (2/3rds). When we think of illness in a dental setting, we generally are considering those contracted through a sharps accident. I’ve never seen a claim made for an employee out with a cold or the flu. I suppose, were it possible to determine for certain that the Covid 19 were contracted at the office, it might just qualify as a job-related illness. When you carry Workers comp, employees injured on the job including contracting job related illness can’t sue you. Workers comp is their only remedy.
Will my BOE (business overhead expense) policy pay if I have to close my office due to Covid-19?
BOE is a disability policy on you (the owner/operator dentist). It covers expenses like staff salaries, rent, utilities, replacement dentist, interest on business loans, etc. if you are out of work due to injury or illness (disabled). BOE benefits don’t start until after the waiting period which is most commonly 60 days. That means you would have to be out of work due to the disabling health issue for 60 days before you could start collecting benefits.