Covid-19: Dentist group instructs law firm to investigate claims rejections

The British Dental Association (BDA) has appointed a legal adviser to look into why insurers are not paying insurance claims of dentists for business interruption during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Law firm Brown Rudnick will examine insurance policies affecting dental practices on behalf of the BDA’s 22,000 members, many of whom have organised on social media to gather relevant evidence on the full range of policies in the sector.

The appointment comes as the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) seeks a court declaration to resolve contractual uncertainty in business interruption insurance cover. In April, the FCA noted that basic business interruption cover would not extend to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.”

Commenting on the decision to instruct Brown Rudnick amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA board, 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.”