The British Dental Association (BDA) has today announced that it is taking urgent legal advice in respect of the vast majority of insurers not paying insurance claims of dentists for business interruption during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Association has instructed international law firm Brown Rudnick LLP to examine insurance policies affecting dental practices. It is now working with grass roots BDA members who have organised on social media to gather relevant evidence on the full range of polices in the sector.
Legal advice will shape the guidance that the BDA will be offering a profession that has been blindsided by a lack of effective insurance response during a period that has seen routine care suspended and cash-flow for many practices fall to zero.
The BDA notes that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), having stated on 15 April that most policies with basic cover would not respond to Covid-19 losses, now seeks “legal clarity” on business interruption insurance in an attempt to provide certainty for businesses and insurers.
The BDA has acted following uncertainty over whether the FCA move will help or hinder practices given the breadth of policy wording covering the different sectors of the UK economy and the urgent cash crisis facing businesses. This has been made more acute in light of the indication that a court hearing will not take place until July.
Dentist leaders have also indicated they hope that instructing Brown Rudnick now will give them a better understanding of their legal position and allow them to consider representations to the FCA as part of the regulator’s recently announced course of action. Following the conclusion of that process, an understanding of the legal position will give the BDA a strong foundation upon which to engage with insurers and the FCA.
The government has remained unwilling to extend the Business Rates Retail Discount of 100% currently offered to leisure and hospitality sectors to dental practices, to ease potentially crippling losses in the sector. BDA polling has indicated over 70% of practices report they can only remain financially sustainable for the next three months.
British Dental Association Chair Mick Armstrong said: “Many dentists who took out policies to guard against the unexpected have been left with no support during this pandemic. The FCA has begun its own legal process to weigh up policies covering almost every business sector in Britain. However, it is clear this will now take months. We’re not prepared to be a passive observer, and wait on a ‘One Size Fits All’ court determination that could leave the practices that millions of patients depend on dangerously exposed. To that end, we have instructed an experienced international financial services law firm to review the insurance policies bought by dentists across the country from all providers. We need to know if there are realistic options to get practices the insurance payments that they desperately need, and that they thought they were signing up to.”