More and more families are feeling their household budgets being squeezed, and unexpected bills can be difficult to manage. Dental costs are one surprise outlay that many families find difficult to manage. An unexpected broken tooth can cost hundreds of pounds to repair, and the treatment is usually needed with barely any time to save up.
Who can buy dental insurance?
Dental insurance is generally available for individuals or families providing that your dental health is reasonably good. Many policies will cover as many as four adults and four children on one policy, making any claims very quick and easy to arrange if they are necessary.
Why should I buy dental insurance?
If you are struggling to register with an NHS dentist, you may find that dental insurance is a very useful way to provide dental care without leaving yourself open to the sudden cost of expensive private treatment.
It may also allow you to move from surgery to surgery depending on preference, which you are unlikely to be able to do with NHS treatment, simply because of the lack of available NHS dentists. Of course, if you are registered with an NHS dentist that you are happy with, you can also choose to remain in their care – most dentists who provide NHS treatment will also treat private patients.
It is highly advisable not to skip dental care simply because you are worried about the cost.
Dental health problems or poor oral hygiene can lead to very serious illness, including strokes and diabetes.
What does dental insurance cover?
Much like any other type of insurance, different policies will provide different levels of cover.
Most policies will not pay the entire cost of your treatment, but by consulting an independent insurance adviser, you will be able to find a policy that covers a good amount of the bills you receive. Some policies place limits on the amount of treatment you can claim for annually, or on particularly complex treatments.
Check your policy to see how much cover you have when abroad on holiday. Although travel insurance can also help with unexpected costs, a specialised dental insurance plan will ensure you are treated to a high standard with minimum disruption to your vacation.
It is worth considering your dental history and age when obtaining a policy to ensure you are adequately protected. Likewise, if you are young and have a good dental care regimen you should be careful not to over-insure. An insurance adviser can help you to analyse each policy to ensure you are getting the best value.
What should I look for in a dental insurance policy?
Consider what you could afford to pay at very short notice. If you would be seriously disadvantaged by any sudden dental bill, even if it were relatively small, consider a policy which covers 100% of all NHS treatment costs. Some policies will even cover appointment fees.
Also check that your policy covers you for expensive emergency treatment. Emergency dental care can be vital if you break a tooth or have an infection which becomes unmanageable over a weekend or on a public holiday, and is usually carried out in a different surgery which will charge a premium. Emergency cover can be well worth having, especially over Christmas when dentists can be hard to find at short notice.
Remember to consider family dental insurance policies if you wish to insure your partner and children at the same time. Often this can be cheaper and more convenient than holding several different policies.
Finally, if you do not claim on your dental insurance, check your policy wording and see if you are eligible for a cashback payment. You can pay this into the bank or put it towards the cost of your following year’s dental insurance costs.
How does dental insurance compare with NHS treatment?
Although NHS dental treatment is cheaper than private dental care, the costs can still be substantial, and appointment fees are still payable. The cost of NHS care is undoubtedly less than private care, but there will still be a fee to pay.
Also consider that NHS dental treatment sometimes covers only the most basic provision with the most basic products. For example, you cannot usually get a white filling on the NHS; if you develop a prominent cavity, you may wish to pay for private care even though you are an NHS patient, simply to avoid having an unsightly and more visible filling.
Dental insurance is also useful if you are concerned about joining long waiting lists to see an NHS dentist.
Are there any hidden costs with dental insurance?
No, however, you may find that you are required to pay for the full cost of your treatment upfront. You can then claim the applicable amount back from your insurer. Note that many policies will not pay out for any treatment you receive at the beginning of your policy – from one to three months in most cases.