Professional Liability Insurance

Questions & Answers

Dental assistants must have their own professional liability insurance (PLI) for their professional practice.

Use this Q & A to help you understand PLI and what you need to do to meet our requirements.

To help you find the information you need, we grouped Q&As by these topics:

General Q&A
Start with these Q&As, they cover general information for all applicants.

Registration Applicant Q&A
Review these Q&As when you are applying to become registered as a dental assistant.

Reinstatement Applicant Q&A
Review these Q&As when you are applying to reinstate your practice permit.

Renewal Applicant Q&A
Review these Q&As when you are applying to renew your practice permit.

General Q&A

These Q&As cover general information for everyone.

Many insurance companies offer PLI. Though your PLI must be the type and amount Council requires, it’s up to you to choose who you purchase it from. This option may help get you started:

  • Prolink (https://prolink.insure/associations/rdaa/) is one option of an insurance company that offers PLI that meets our College’s PLI requirement. You can get an insurance certificate immediately when you use their online application form.
  • Association of Alberta Dental Assistants (https://rda-alberta.ca/pli-membership/) is one option of an association that offers a group plan that meets our College’s PLI requirement.

We understand that the premium can range significantly. For example, coverage under a group plan could cost a dental assistant about $50.00-$100.00 a year. Keep in mind that number may vary depending on your claims history, and the coverage limits and other endorsements you choose. If you go with an independent PLI policy (not a group plan) it could cost as much as $500.00 per year. Therefore, you need to check your options before buying.

Please note that we don’t set or negotiate insurance rates.

You must be able to prove that you hold your own individual PLI that meets our requirements:

We require that:

  • your name must be on the PLI policy and it must match the name on your registration/ reinstatement/ renewal application
  • your coverage is:
    • occurrence based
    • at least two-million dollars ($2,000,000.00) per claim
    • at least three million dollars ($3,000,000.00) for all claims combined per year

You must always have PLI coverage while you hold a valid practice permit. In other words, there can be no gaps in your coverage.

An occurrence policy covers you for incidents that happen during your policy period, regardless of when a claim is made against you. This means if something happens during your policy period but isn’t reported until after your policy expires, your claim can still get covered.

Occurrence-based coverage is different than claims-made coverage. Claims-made policies only cover you when an incident happens, and a claim is filed during your policy period. For losses or incidents that are filed after your policy expires, claims-made insurance won’t cover you.

When you apply for registration, reinstatement or practice permit renewal, and any time we request it, you must provide proof of PLI coverage. Your proof must include:

  • PLI policy number;
  • name of the insured (must be the same as the name of the person applying for registration/ reinstatement/ renewal);
  • address of the insured;
  • policy period (start and end dates); and,
  • coverage details that meet the College’s PLI requirements.

You may provide any of these as your proof of PLI coverage:

  • a copy of the PLI policy certificate
  • written confirmation from the insurer
  • proof of third-party PLI

If you don’t have any of those as proof, please contact us. In special cases only we may consider accepting a completed PLI Declaration Form instead (use this Applicant’s Declaration: PLI Coverage form).

It’s in the public interest for all regulated health care professionals to carry professional liability insurance. It offers the patient a source of protection or financial recourse should they suffer a loss due to some failure by a professional.

Carrying PLI is also in your interest as the insurance helps you by paying for your defense in dealing with the allegations, regardless of whether there are grounds for the allegations.

Additionally, the Dental Assistants Profession Regulation, sections 9 and 10(b), gives our College the authority to ask anyone who applies for registration, and current dental assistants, to provide proof of having the type and amount of PLI Council requires.

Plus, it gives you peace of mind. The cost of PLI is economical when you compare it with the alternative of being potentially liable for upwards of millions of dollars to cover defense costs and claim settlements.

Dental assistants are regulated health care professionals who are responsible for their own practice. PLI covers errors, omissions or negligent acts, which may arise from the normal or usual services you provide. Without PLI you could be held personally liable for your actions or mistakes.

Plus, if the dentist you are employed by has their insurance through the CDSA’s policy, that policy clearly says it doesn’t cover employees who are regulated health professionals, including dental assistants.

Your own PLI is a reliable way to make sure you are in control of the policy, and you have an insurance broker that has your best interest in mind. It also ensures your patients–and you–are covered any time you are providing professional services regardless of the day or time, or employer or volunteer agency.

Some employers may have policies that cover employees. However, most employer policies only cover the employee while they are engaged with the employer (policy holder) and that coverage would end as soon as the employer-employee relationship ends. This potentially leaves the public and the dental assistant without the benefits of PLI. It’s also possible for the employer to make changes to the PLI policy without the employee’s knowledge or input.

If you can show proof that your employer’s* policy meets all of our requirements, we will accept it. However, keep in mind that it may only cover you when you are working for that employer. If you volunteer, or work for more than one employer, you must get coverage for those situations. You must ensure you have coverage regardless of when, how and where you practice.

Another caution about employer coverage is it doesn’t typically include all the common coverages of an individual policy. For example:

  • legal expenses associated with having to appear at a disciplinary hearing with a regulatory body
  • criminal defense costs
  • sexual abuse therapy of a person who, while a patient, suffered abuse during an insured person’s practice

* If your employer is a dentist who has their insurance through the CDSA’s policy, that policy is claims made and doesn’t meet our requirement for occurrence-based coverage. That policy also clearly says it doesn’t cover employees who are regulated health professionals, including dental assistants.

Every regulated member of our College who has a valid practice permit (dental assistants) must have PLI. This applies regardless of the dental assistant’s role, title or practice environment, or whether the dental assistant provides services on a full-time, part-time, infrequent, or volunteer basis.

If you hold a valid practice permit, you must have PLI coverage.

PLI is insurance coverage that protects both the patient and the professional.

Public Protection

PLI is one of the ways we protect the public interest. It assures patients that the actions of dental assistants are covered by insurance if the patient suffers a loss due to errors or omissions in the dental assistant’s work.

Professional Protection

PLI is intended to protect a professional (the dental assistant) when a claim is made against them. The coverage protects the dental assistant against losses that may result from actual or alleged incidents where the dental assistant fails to meet expected standards and conduct. For example, unprofessional conduct, negligence, malpractice, mistakes/errors, or omissions.

PLI is also known as “errors and omissions insurance” or “malpractice insurance.”

Most PLI policies will only cover the professional services you provide as a dental assistant. If you provide services beyond those of a dental assistant, you may need more insurance coverage. Discuss your needs with your insurance broker.

Most PLI policies will only cover the professional services you provide within Canada. If you provide dental assisting services to patients or practice the profession outside of Canada, you should discuss this with your insurance broker.

Your coverage limits must meet the minimums set by the Council. However, you may want or need more coverage. Different employers and practice locations may require different insurance coverage. You may also want to consider things like risk and worst-case scenario for financial loss of a patient, or other party, if a claim is made against you. Discuss your needs with your insurance broker.

There are common policy exclusions like dishonesty and fraudulent acts. Each insurer’s policy may vary. You are responsible to ensure you get full and accurate information from your insurance broker about your PLI coverage.

You will have to wait until you can meet the PLI requirement before applying for registration, reinstatement or Practice Permit renewal.

The Health Professions Act, sections 28(1)(c) and 40(1)(c), indicates you must show that you have the required amount and type of professional liability insurance when you apply for registration, reinstatement or renewal. Without PLI coverage, your application for registration, reinstatement or renewal is incomplete.

You must report any finding of professional negligence made against you to the Registrar in writing and as soon as reasonably possible after the finding is made. This is required by the Health Professions Act section 127.1(3).

You must inform us in writing within 15 days of any changes to your PLI coverage. This includes name of insurer, policy period, policy number, coverage amounts or endorsements.

You can upload proof of your insurance changes in the CADA Portal.

If you don’t comply with any PLI requirement, the Registrar may refer your conduct to the Complaints Director.

Registration Applicant Q&A

These Q&As will help you when you are applying for dental assistant registration.

You must arrange your own PLI coverage before you apply for registration. Then you must upload proof of your PLI coverage in your application.

Your PLI must be in effect when you submit your application for registration. It must cover you through November 30th.

However, if you are applying in November for dental assistant registration that begins December 1st then your insurance may take effect December 1st. In that case you must provide proof of PLI coverage for a one-year period from December 1st through November 30th.

That depends on when you are applying.

Normally, you must wait until you have PLI coverage in effect when you apply for registration because you must meet all registration requirements to be eligible to apply.

The exception is when you apply near the end of our Practice Permit year, which is December 1 through November 30. In November, we accept applications for registration that will take effect December 1st, but only if you won’t be practicing before December 1st. In this situation only, you can apply before your PLI policy starts. You will need to provide proof that you have PLI coverage in effect for a one-year period from December 1st through November 30th.

Reinstatement Applicant Q&A

These Q&As will help you when you are applying to reinstate your practice permit.

You must arrange your own PLI coverage before you apply to reinstate. Then you must upload proof of your PLI coverage in your application.

Your PLI must be in effect when you submit your application to reinstate. It must cover you through November 30th.

However, if you are applying in November to reinstate your practice permit for December 1st then your insurance may take effect December 1st. In that case you must provide proof of PLI coverage for a one-year period from December 1st through November 30th.

That depends on when you are applying.

Normally, you must wait until you have PLI coverage in effect when you apply to reinstate your practice permit because you must meet all reinstatement requirements to be eligible to apply.

The exception is when you apply near the end of our Practice Permit year, which is December 1 through November 30. In November, we accept reinstatement applications that will take effect December 1st, but only if you won’t be practicing before December 1st. In this situation only, you can apply before your PLI policy starts. You will need to provide proof that you have PLI coverage in effect a one-year period from December 1st through November 30th.

Renewal Applicant Q&A

These Q&As will help you when you are applying to renew your practice permit.

You must renew your PLI coverage before you apply to renew your Practice Permit. Then you must upload proof of your PLI coverage in your application. Your new coverage must be in effect for a one-year period from December 1st through November 30th.

Yes, you can. You will need to provide proof that you have PLI coverage in effect for a one-year period from December 1st through November 30th.

Need More Information?

If you still have questions about our PLI requirements after you review the Q&As, reach out to our Regulatory Compliance Advisors.

If you have questions about insurance coverage details, please reach out to your insurance broker.