When malpractice rates began to dramatically rise in the mid-70s, a small group of California Dental Association members took action to build a company that would be solely focused on protecting dentists.
July of 1980 was a hot one. Along with triple-digit temperatures, dentists had been feeling the heat of exponentially increasing malpractice insurance rates. A combination of social, economic and professional trends contributed to a true insurance crisis. Dentists were held captive to unaffordable premiums ― and restricted coverage availability ― which compromised the ability to continue to provide care.
When malpractice rates began to dramatically rise in the mid-70s, the California Dental Association’s volunteer leadership advocated on behalf of their dentist peers. In April of 1977, at a meeting of the Council of Insurance in Palm Springs, CDA faced off with a leading national insurer. Actuaries from both organizations presented.
Several years later, CDA member and TDIC founder Dr. David Gaynor recounted the meeting in a video detailing the company’s founding.
“You have an actuary and I have an insurance company,” the insurance executive stated, looking Gaynor right in the eye. “Until you raise adequate premium and get a Certificate of Authority from the commissioner of California, you’ll buy my product at the price I choose to charge.”
While Gaynor was stunned, he knew what had to be done. A small group of CDA members spent the next three years building a company that would be solely focused on protecting dentists, and on July 1, 1980, The Dentists Insurance Company wrote its first policy.
“Then, the real work started,” said Dr. Gaynor.
Forty years on, the company built by dentists continues to protect only dentists and is still led by dentists.
Dr. Daniel Davidson, TDIC’s current board chair, noted that the company hasn’t wavered in its singular mission to protect dentists. Throughout the last four decades, TDIC has upheld its promise by consistently reviewing market trends to be responsive to policyholders’ changing needs and auditing processes to ensure exceptional service.
Here are just a few of the milestone moments along the way:
In 1983, TDIC Insurance Solutions was established as the company's broker and agent, allowing for more expansive offerings. Over time, more coverage designed specifically for dentists was continuously added: commercial property insurance, disability insurance, employment practices liability insurance, cyber suite liability, lessor’s risk coverage, workers’ compensation (in California) and individual and group health coverage. These coverages provide affordable, trusted options to protect dentists as small business owners, so they can focus on patient care rather than issues that affect productivity and operations.
By 1986, a Risk Management program was launched to share empathetic, expert guidance with dentists who faced practice challenges. Today, the Risk Management resources, available at no cost, include one-on-one advice from analysts, educational seminars and news and information reducing liability exposure.
In 1989, TDIC declared and distributed its first dividend to policyholders. While no carriers can guarantee dividends will be paid, the insurance company has been successful in returning dividends every year since 1989.*
In 1990, the board approved a strategy to expand outside of California, which expanded its coverage to seven additional states from 1992-2006 earning the endorsement of those state dental associations. This growth allowed the larger dental community to benefit from dentist-centric coverage and broadened the company’s the premium base for financial stability and strength.
Commercial Property coverage was first offered in 1997, bringing TDIC one step closer to providing comprehensive coverage for dentists. This protection for dentists’ buildings and businesses grew to include Employment Practices Liability, Workers’ Compensation (in California), Lessors Risk, Cyber Suite Liability and more. These coverages provide protection for dentists as small business owners, so they can focus on patient care rather than issues that affect productivity and operations.
TDIC continued to expand its reach without ever losing its focus. With the merger of two Pacific Northwest companies into TDIC in 2019, the company was able to extend coverage to dentists in 15 states. By 2020, The Dentists Insurance Company had earned an AM Best (Excellent) rating for 26 consecutive years.
“TDIC’s consistent ‘Excellent’ AM Best rating reflects our mission to provide policyholders with high-quality service and outstanding insurance products and services,” says Dr. Davidson. “Our financial stability, along with our focus to solely protect dentists, is why an increasing number of colleagues choose us for their insurance needs.”
Just 5,000 professional liability policyholders in 1980 have transformed into a community of 24,000 dentists. Through it all, giving dentists undivided attention has remained a top priority.
Today, trusted insurance advisors build personal relationships with policyholders and find the coverage that’s the right fit for each practice’s unique needs. What started as a remarkable challenge and vision became a dentist-led mission for a better insurance company.
*Dividends in prior years do not guarantee dividends in any subsequent year.