Live Chat
Washington State Dental Association

WDIA looks ahead: Protect your practice and livelihood with the correct insurance

Life is an adventure that should be lived to its fullest and without worry, no doubt. But with the current state of the nation and economy, virtually everyone is susceptible to financial difficulty. Now more than ever, the Washington Dentists Insurance Agency (WDIA) encourages member dentists to be prepared for the 'what ifs' in life, by reviewing their insurance policies and determining if their current coverage is meeting their needs and expectations.

"As your practice fluctuates in size, or if your earnings increase or decrease your insurance needs will also change," said WDIA Director of Insurance Services Mr. Matt French. "Many dentists forget to keep their insurance coverage in step with their life and business changes, which can leave them in a difficult situation financially if an accident were to occur."

WSDA member Dr. Jeff Huey, of Mercer Island, is but one example of a dentist who did not fully realize the benefits of insurance coverage until he was caught by its safety net. A 1980 graduate of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, Dr. Huey said that securing disability insurance was on the bottom of his list of things to do when he began his practice. But fortunately, as it turns out, an insurance agent spoke with him and informed him that he had a greater chance of becoming disabled than dying. And so he purchased coverage.

"When I became disabled in 1995, I had three children in elementary school and I was faced with the prospect of needing to find a new job immediately," said Dr. Huey. "I quickly realized that as dentists, we train extensively and become very good at our profession. We also get rewarded accordingly, and part of that reward is the opportunity for disability coverage. Disability insurance has been important to allow me to provide financially for my family and give me time to start a new career"

WDIA is the only insurance agency in the state specifically geared to meet the needs of Washington dentists, their families and their staff. The team works one-on-one with dentists and offers competitive rates. WDIA prides itself on providing excellent customer service and the top quality products to dentists and their staff, including the following: NORDIC professional liability and business owners policy/hazard insurance, disability (personal and business overhead), practice loan protection (requested by most lending companies), life, group and individual medical/medicare and long term care.

WDIA also hosts Lunch-N-Learns for dental students at the University of Washington School of Dentistry to educate them about the importance of being fully insured. The WSDA pays for disability insurance for all dental students including dental specialty residents as a courtesy; with this plan they can transition into a >personal disability plan through WDIA when they are ready to begin a practice, no medical underwriting required.

Regardless of the stage dentists are at in their career whether a recent graduate, associate, or long-term business owner, WDIA can help. Dr. Chris Lugo, who practices both in Marysville and Monroe, recalled his experience with WDIA early on in his career:

"After working as an associate, I was presented with a unique opportunity to purchase the thriving practice I had worked at while starting a new practice. The amazing opportunity soon became overwhelming with complex legal arrangements, mountains of paperwork, and a seller motivated to be done with the deal. Since I had only had experience of a naïve associate, I had no idea how to approach the complicated insurance requirements I would have to attain prior to closing the sale. If the practice sale was not headache enough, I was also purchasing the property with its own complicated agreements. WDIA came to my rescue."

"After calling their office at my bankers request, I met with Matthew French for lunch. I immediately felt very comfortable. Mr. French comes with a level of enthusiasm that I find refreshing in a business that is known to be a bit dry. At the first meeting, he proceeded to walk me through each component of insurance I would need as the deals progressed, and they promised he would find me the best policies for my situation. With his help, I purchase term life, malpractice, disability, and practice loan protection. I was very impressed with his ability to anticipate my needs throughout the process. With WDIAs help, I was able to meet insurance requirements in time to close the sale."

"Since my purchase of the practice, Matt still contacts me on a regular basis to see how I am doing, and if I need anything not just to sell insurance products like other agencies. I trust Matt and WDIA with all my insurance needs, and give them a glowing endorsement for all dentists looking to get insurance."

Whats more, the growth that WDIA has experienced over the years has allowed the agency to become a significant source of non-dues income for the WSDA, allowing the Association to continue to offer valuable  programs to the membership while maintaining dues at a reasonable level.

"WSDA members often forget that WDIA is a fully owned subsidiary of the Washington State Dental Association, so when dentists purchase their professional insurance through WDIA they support the dental profession in Washington state," said Mr. French. "One hundred percent of commissions earned by WDIA above operating costs are returned to WSDA to help keep your annual membership dues low and make the Pacific Northwest Dental Conference a success. Revenue from WDIA also goes toward sponsoring dental seminars, workshops, dental legislative efforts, and the UW School of Dentistry."

"WDIA is a great place to get all your insurance needs from liability to life insurance, or if your just wanting some information," said Dr. Benjamin An of Bellingham. "The agents at WDIA, like Matt French, will come to you and make sure everything you need is covered. More importantly, they take time to explain everything clearly on a one-on-one basis. Its nice to know that whenever I need his help or if I have a question I can just pick up the phone and call Matt or he'll even come up to meet me. Plus, since WDIA is part of the WSDA, a portion of your fees goes back to helping the Association. With WDIA its a win-win, and Ive been completely satisfied."

"WDIA has offered a tremendous amount of support and resources for our practice. Not only has it been both hassle and worry-free for Dr. David Johns as far as streamlining his insurance needs, but every staff member that I have personally been in contact with has been extremely insightful," said Carrie Kolowinski, office manager of Dr. David Johns, Puyallup. "Matt French can easily answer the questions that Dr. Johns needs and meets all of his expectations. This highly qualified, successful team has the ability of making you feel like you are their only client. As an office manager, it puts me at great ease to know that if I have one of those issues come up that I do not have the answer for, WDIA will be there to support me."

Across the board, dentists who choose to work with the Washington Dentists Insurance Agency (WDIA) say the team, headed by Mr. French, has changed the way they perceive the insurance industry. WDIA employees are reliable and innovative, and are willing to get to know their clients needs to sculpt coverage that best fits the practice situation.

Because of this, "WDIA has become an important player in the overall insurance market, and their endorsement is sought after by companies wanting to do business with the Washington State Dental Association," said WDIA Assistant Director of Insurance Sales Mr. Matt Kaing. Mr. Kaing joined the WDIA team in November 2008, selling all lines of business and personal insurance needed by dentists and their staff.

Along with Mr. French, these efforts come together seamlessly at WDIA, thanks in part to what goes on behind-the-scenes when Mr. French and Mr. Kaing are in the field working outside sales. Day-to-day operations fall to the task of four skilled employees: Manager of Operations Megan Guenther and Insurance Specialists Karen Hutson, Susan Young and Colleen Arsenault.

Ms. Arsenault is the newest addition to the WDIA team, as of August 2008. She has 13 years of previous experience with Guardian Life Insurance, beginning in the group office in Spokane and eventually moving into the group disability sales office in Seattle. At WDIA, she handles the production end of health insurance policies for clients.

"It has been a smooth transition into the position of production assistant here at WDIA and I really enjoy working with all of our clients," said Ms. Arsenault, who brings a fresh enthusiasm and vibrancy to the group. "Its fast-paced and challenging!"

Megan Guenther, who joined the WDIA team in February 2005, agrees: "Theres never a dull moment," she said. As manager of operations, Ms. Guenther is responsible for tracking the finances of WDIA, maintaining communications with the Board of Directors, and assisting clients with quotes, among other duties. Disability and Life Insurance Specialist Karen Hutson handles life and disability production and answers questions for clients. She and Susan Young, medical production specialist, joined the team in October and February 2004, respectively, and together the two assist clients with queries, process paperwork, and help to keep the agency spinning like a well-oiled machine.

Ms. Hutson, who has a background in business management, acts as a liaison between disability and life insurance underwriters, brokers and dentists. Similarly, Ms. Young, who has a background in banking and loan processing, is the go-between for member dentists and medical insurance companies.

"I've had nothing but great experiences working with WDIA," said Dr. Melissa Lee. "They have been so effective in finding me the right insurance for every situation."

If you would like to learn more about what WDIA can do for you and your dental practice, please call 800-
282-9342, e-mail or request a quote on the Web at

Posted: / Last Updated: