Taking inventory to safeguard the dental practice

How easily could most dentists name all of the moving parts that come together to make a practice function — computer systems, phone systems, delivery systems, digital imagery and autoclaves (and the list goes on). Next, how easily could dentists name each piece of owned equipment, including the model number, serial number, purchase date and estimated value?

Not very easily.

Relying on memory alone to recount business assets is an exercise in futility. While most dentists have a general idea what they own and how much it’s worth, not all have a thorough, detailed inventory of their office contents. Unfortunately, failing to document all items of value can lead to a shortage of insurance coverage should a loss occur.

The Dentists Insurance Company, TDIC, reports many cases in which dentists have failed to conduct accurate inventories of their office contents, and subsequently did not purchase enough coverage. In one case, a dentist purchased only $580,000 in coverage for a practice with 12 operatories, which had a value of at least $1.2 million — not including the value of the reception area, break room or sterilization room. In another case, the building in which a dentist housed her practice suffered a fire, and while her property was unaffected, she was forced to relocate. But with four operatories and 1,600 square feet, her $287,000 coverage was hardly enough to rebuild her practice in a new location.

Waiting until after a loss occurs to conduct an inventory can slow down the claims process, and dentists risk inaccurate reimbursements should items be overlooked and unaccounted for. Policyholders are encouraged to conduct thorough inventories preemptively to avoid additional and unnecessary stress that comes following a loss. Being proactive, rather than reactive, means a smoother claims process and a reimbursement that is more in line with the true value of the loss.   

While a manual, pen-and-paper method can suffice, taking inventory of property has never been easier with the introduction of apps and software designed especially for this purpose. Tools marketed for conducting home inventories can also work well for documenting business personal property. Many are free or low cost, and they walk users through the process step-by-step, storing the information securely online. Following are three of the most popular, though it should be noted that none is endorsed by TDIC.

With a photo-based interface, Encircle allows users to take a visual inventory of their belongings. Items are organized by room and prepopulated checklists prompt users to enter detailed information on each item. Encircle also allows for multiple users, with entries synched seamlessly. Data can be exported to PDF or Excel. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry 10.

Sortly allows users to take photos and videos of each item, along with documentation such as serial numbers, values and links to product manuals. These entries can then be organized into individual folders and subfolders. Entries can be autosaved to Evernote or PDFs can be exported to Dropbox. The app features automatic backups and allows users to sync devices through a secure cloud. Available for iPhone and iPad.

Know Your Stuff
Developed by the Insurance Information Institute, this app allows for multiple properties. Photos, item details and receipts can be downloaded into easy-to-read reports and data is stored via Amazon Web Services. Detailed policy information can also be stored within the app and an at-a-glance feature allows users to see their data in graph, chart and table form. Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

TDIC policyholders can refer to their declaration insert to determine how much coverage their policy offers. Policyholders can make adjustments by contacting a TDIC agent who can work with them to assess the value of their office contents and develop a coverage plan that ensures they are not under- or over-insured. To request a property evaluation by phone, email the TDIC Service Department. Dentists who are not TDIC policyholders should contact their insurance carrier.

Ensure your practice — and everything in it — is taken into account. Failing to document all contents can mean major headaches should a loss occur. Taking complete and regular inventories of office contents allows for purchase of the right coverage and will ease the process of filing a claim.

TDIC’s Risk Management Advice Line at 800.733.0634 is staffed with trained analysts who can answer coverage and other questions related to dental practice.

Reprinted from the CDA Journal.

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