Dental assistants must have professional liability insurance (PLI) to be eligible to practice. PLI is also known as malpractice insurance or errors and omissions insurance. It’s necessary to protect both the patient and the dental assistant if something happens. For example, unprofessional conduct, negligence, malpractice, mistakes/errors, or omissions.
We currently hold a PLI policy that covers all dental assistants we authorize to practice. However, to comply with Bill 46, the Health Statutes Amendment Act 2020, we will be discontinuing our policy as of November 30, 2022.
What does this mean for dental assistants?
Each dental assistant will need to obtain and maintain their own PLI coverage. They must have PLI coverage at all times when they have a valid Practice Permit (i.e. when they are authorized by us to practice). Additionally, their coverage must meet our requirements. Check PLI Questions & Answers for details.
Later this year, when dental assistants apply to renew their Practice Permits, they must provide proof of PLI coverage. To qualify, their coverage must be in effect for December 1, 2022. Providing proof of PLI will become an annual renewal requirement.
First-time applicants who are applying for registration that starts on or after December 1, 2022, will also need to provide proof of PLI coverage. Likewise, anyone applying to reinstate their suspended Permit for December 1, 2022, or after, must also provide proof.
As of December 1, 2022, dental assistants must notify us in writing of any changes to their PLI coverage within 15 days of the change. They must also provide proof of insurance any time we request it.
Check PLI Questions & Answers for information about what we accept as proof of PLI.
Dental assistants whose current Practice Permits expire November 30, 2022, will continue to be covered by our policy until their current Permit expires.
To ensure that dental assistants have PLI coverage to protect their patients and themselves, we will only approve applications (for registration or reinstatement) when the applicant provides proof that meets our requirements. Check PLI Questions & Answers for details.
Once their PLI is in place, we will continue to monitor their compliance to verify they have continuous coverage. We’ll do this by:
- requiring dental assistants to notify us of any changes, including start and expiry dates, changing insurer, coverage amounts and endorsements
- requiring proof of PLI every year at renewal time
- auditing from time to time by asking dental assistants to provide proof of PLI
Reasons for the Change
Bill 46 is very clear about regulatory colleges not acting as professional associations. To help colleges ensure they comply with Bill 46, Alberta Health provided information to guide colleges through reviewing their activities and planning next steps. Their information indicated that colleges should consider PLI in their review. They also stated that our current practice of including the fee for PLI in our registration fees will no longer be allowed once the second phase of Bill 46 is in place.
To comply, we must change what we’ve been doing. It’s clear that we can no longer combine PLI fees and registration fees. To continue arranging a PLI policy for dental assistants, we would need to make it voluntary. We would also need to demonstrate to Alberta Health that it would be necessary for us to keep arranging PLI. Clearly, if dental assistants can get their own coverage, it isn’t necessary for us to arrange a policy.