4 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Dental Hygienists

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

Dental hygienists do a lot of work on patient’s teeth. As a professional, you may not think you need malpractice insurance, but you might want to know that The National Practitioner Data Bank recorded 4,491 lawsuits against dental hygienists in the past ten years, with the average settlement being $68,000. And that doesn’t include defense costs. It does happen. Luckily, malpractice insurance for dental hygienists is inexpensive and will protect your assets if you do get sued. What are the best companies for dental hygienists seeking malpractice insurance?

The 4 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Dental Hygienists

We crunched the numbers, did the research and these are the top four companies for dental hygienists. 

For the record, we said we were dental hygienists practicing in Illinois, employed full time and working longer than a year. 

1. CM&F: Best for Comprehensive Coverage

CM&F offers professional liability for allied health professionals, which is what dental hygienists are. They offer:

  • 24/7 portable coverage (you are insured wherever you go)
  • License defense coverage
  • Sexual misconduct defense
  • HIPAA violation coverage

They also have customer service at the call center, so you can ask questions if you need to.

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>>MORE: 4 Best Choices for Cheap Chiropractic Malpractice Insurance

2. Proliability: Best for A Fast and Easy Buying Process

Proliability insures many different industries, and they’ve been in business for decades. They’re also the only sponsored liability insurance provider for the American Dental Hygienist’s Association. 

They have thousands of great reviews, and it’s very easy to get a quote. You can apply online and be accepted, pay the bill and be insured in less than fifteen minutes. 

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>>MORE: Top 5 Providers of Dental Malpractice Insurance

3. HPSO (Healthcare Providers Service Organization): Best for Offering Discounts

HPSO insures over a million health care professionals in over 150 professions. They’ve been in business since 1991. They have a good reputation and you may get a discount for being a member of a professional organization. You can also get a discount if you take a qualifying risk management class. A picture containing timeline

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>>MORE: The 5 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Nursing Students

4. Pharmacists Mutual: Best If You Prefer Working With An Agent

You might not guess it by the name, but Pharmacist’s Mutual has been insuring industries other than pharmacists since 2012. They insure all in all fifty states. They only work through agents, though, so you’ll have to call to speak to someone. There is no online quoting and we were unable to get a quote. 

>>MORE: The 5 Best Malpractice Insurance Companies for Nurse Practitioners

Why do Dental Hygienists Need Malpractice Insurance?

Dental hygienists are in the business of patient care. Dentists and dental hygienists face liability charges every day, and those numbers are increasing. Some of the reasons you may find yourself a defendant in a court case include:

  • Failure to update medical history
  • Failure to document on a patient’s record
  • Failure to diagnose periodontal disease
  • Patient injury
  • Failure to detect oral cancer

Many dental hygienists believe that their employer’s insurance will cover them if they are sued. However, not all states require dentists to carry malpractice insurance, so you can’t be sure if your dentist has it or not. Also, if a dentist’s insurance doesn’t cover the entire amount of a patient’s claim, the patient may choose to file suit against the hygienist as well. 

>>MORE: The 5 Best Providers of Medical Malpractice Insurance

How Much does Malpractice Insurance for Dental Hygienists Cost?

Dental hygienists’ malpractice insurance is very reasonable, costs less than $100 a year. For such a reasonable amount, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that is something terrible were to happen and you were named in a lawsuit, you’ll be covered. After all, accidents happen. What if you were to accidentally cut a patient’s tongue when you were cleaning his/her teeth and this patient sued you? Believe it or not, this has happened. Also, some dentists’ malpractice insurance will not cover the dental hygienist unless the dentist is named in the suit. So, if you, personally are sued for injuring a patient, the dentist’s malpractice insurance won’t help you.

>>MORE: Malpractice Insurance Costs for Different Professions

Occurrence vs. Claims-Made Policies

There are two types of malpractice insurance: claims based and occurrence. Claims-made insurance covers you for as long as the policy is in active. Occurrence insurance covers you for any incidents that occurred while the policy was in force, even if the patient doesn’t file the suit until months after the insurance expired. 

For example, John has dental malpractice insurance from January 1, 2019 to January 1, 2020. In December, John accidentally injures Tania’s lip, requiring stitches. Tania sues John and files suit on January 5, 2020. If John had claims-made insurance, he would be out of luck, as his policy ended January 1, 2020. If John had an occurrence policy, he would be covered because the incident occurred when the policy was in force. 

Claims-made coverage is generally less expensive, but you have to be aware that it only covers you while the policy is in force. Patients often mull things over and file lawsuits months, or even years, after the actual incident occurred. You can purchase something known as tail-coverage, which would protect you if someone files a lawsuit after you’ve already left the practice or if your new policy isn’t retroactive. 

>>MORE: Top 4 Providers of Malpractice Insurance for Psychologists and Counselors

Can Dentists and Dental Hygienists Have the Same Malpractice Insurance Policy?

While dentists and dental hygienists or dental assistants work in the same space and are often exposed to similar risks, the level of risks that dentists have is very different from the level of risks a dental hygienists or dental assistants have. The type of work a dentist usually performs such as root canal treatment or crown placement is much riskier and more damaging to the patients if problems incur, compared to a dental hygienist.

Therefore, dentists and dental hygienists should have different malpractice insurance policies. The malpractice insurance policy for a dentist should be a lot more expensive than the one for a dental hygienists.

>>MORE: Top 5 Providers of Dental Malpractice Insurance for Dentists

Last Thoughts

As a dental hygienist, you have a responsibility to keep patients safe when they’re in the dentist’s chair. You don’t want to depend on the insurance of the dentist you work under, because it might not protect you. Malpractice insurance for dental hygienists is available for a low cost and you’ll be very glad you have it if someone sues.

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at realtor.com, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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