There are a number of things you need to know about dental insurance to stop you buying an unsuitable policy that ends up costing as much as the treatment you need.
If You Look After Your Teeth…
If you’re one of the minority of adults who use dental floss and brush twice a day, you may find that the cheapest way to look after your teeth is simply to use an NHS dentist. However, some people, despite doing everything they can to look after their teeth, find that they are constantly having expensive dental treatments. They definitely need insurance.
NHS Dentistry: Not Free, Can be Costly
Going to see an NHS dentist is only free for certain groups. These are children and young people under the age of 18 (19 if the person is in full time education), women who are either pregnant or have given birth in the previous year and those staying in hospital whose treatment is being delivered by a hospital dentist.
Everybody else has to pay and in some cases the charges can be quite high. There are caps on the amount you have to pay for a single course of treatment, but these vary in different parts of the United Kingdom. Even basic insurance would cover these dental costs.
Many dentists actually provide a mix of NHS and private treatments. This can apply even to a single treatment – if you want a more cosmetically attractive filling material you can pay for that privately while the dentist does the filling on the NHS and charges NHS rates for the work.
Dental Insurance Policies Vary Widely
You can choose to opt for a policy that pays out for NHS treatment only, NHS treatment plus some limited private treatments or full private treatment coverage. Obviously, the cost of the policies varies according to how much cover you are being given. Some policies will cover only emergency work, others only routine work and others both types of dental treatment.
Remember that conditions you already have – for example a broken tooth – won’t be covered under a new insurance policy, and as with other types of insurance there will be an “excess”. This is the amount that you agree to pay before the insurance kicks in.
Healthcare Cash Plans
These can be a very cost-effective way to protect yourself from steep dental charges. This type of plan is actually a kind of insurance that allows you to claim back various health expenses such as dental treatment or optician visits.
If you have an employer who provides various benefits, check that you don’t already have this type of plan because it is a popular benefit. If you are paying for the plan yourself, you will pay a small monthly premium and when you need treatment, you pay the dentist yourself. Then you send off the receipt to the health care plan provider who reimburses you.
The cover on these plans is fairly basic, so if you think that you may need more coverage, look at specialised dental policies.
Stand-alone Dental Treatment Policies
All insurance policies differ, so make sure that the policy you are considering covers what you need: routine check-ups and visits to the hygienist; NHS treatment such as crowns, bridges and fillings; emergency cover and possibly worldwide cover; oral cancer cover; private treatment – the more that is covered, the more expensive the policy will be and many policies won’t cover this at all.
Exclusions and Upper Limits
There’s usually an initial period before you can claim, and treatments that are not necessary for your dental health, such as whitening, are only included if your policy specifically says so.
Be aware too, that many policies have an upper payout limit – check that this is not too restrictive for your needs.
Can I Get Cover?
Up to the age of about 50 you’ll find no problems in getting cover, but after 50 some policies won’t insure you, so again, you need to check the wording carefully. As children get free dental treatment until they are 18, they are usually excluded from policies.