Private dental insurance covers dental work above and beyond what the NHS provides. Under some policies it can include
As with private health insurance, the best way to keep your costs down and get cheap insurance is prevention. This means regularly brushing your teeth and flossing daily to combat the major causes of gum disease. If you are concerned about the cost of dental work under the NHS then your best option could be an individual plan.
Alongside individual coverage, you can also be covered in a group or be included in a company plan with the option for supplemental coverage to cover you where your organisation does not.
Can I wait to get dental insurance until I need it?
For most dental insurance policies there is a probation period you have to wait before you can perform your first surgery or operation. The insurance companies know that if you need a filling or a crown you will need it now, and not in 12 months. This is why there is usually a period of three months before you can have a filling, and not for a full 12 months before you can have any major work including a crown or filling.
What does dental insurance cover?
- Routine check-ups and treatments, the cost of all dental work (including emergencies and accidents) is covered by dental insurance. You will pay when you have the treatment, and then are reimbursed by your insurance provider.
- NHS dental costs up to a certain level that covers crowns, bridges and fillings.
- Any emergency which requires urgent medical care, and accidents involving your teeth or mouth and needs treatment immediately.
- Global coverage is included in some policies.
- Specific private treatments, such as cosmetic work. These kinds of treatment won’t be included in all and will normally have to be ‘bolted on’ to higher cost policies.
What is not covered?
- Some providers only pay a percentage of the cost. For example they will pay a set percentage of the cost of treatment up to a certain point, and you will need to cover the rest.
- If the treatment is not clinically necessary, unless specified so under an NHS plan than it might not be covered.
- Depending on what plan you take you might not be eligible to claim for the first 3-12 months depending on treatment; unless it is a routine check-up.
- Dental insurance aims to keep the teeth healthy, therefore any cosmetic treatments are normally not covered.
88% of adults have no dental insurance in the UK.
National Smile Month – 2016
How much will I have to pay each month?
For basic care you might pay around £50 per year. This can stretch all the way up to £250 – £300 for a treatment plan that is extensive.
Depending on how much money you want to spend each month greatly affects the coverage you will receive. You will always have to pay for a certain amount of treatment and there is a limit on the amount claimable for each plan.
Is dental insurance more expensive the older I get?
Unlike many other types of insurance there is normally no difference in cost up to the age of 50. Once you are over 50 it may be difficult to find cheaper plans and generally the cost will go up. Make sure to check in your policy to make sure that you will not be dropped when you reach a certain age.
Will my children be covered under my plan?
Dental insurance is normally only valid for the specified person under the plan. Family plans are available but with dental work being free for under-18s this is normally not necessary. However, the same principles apply for children under the NHS, for example if you do not want a standard grey (amalgam) filling then you will have to pay more.
How do I pay for any work that is covered by my plan?
The majority of dental insurance plans require you to pay upfront for the work that you need done, and then you are reimbursed after 6 months. If you do not have the cash to do this you can always look at low interest credit cards to cover the cost before you are reimbursed (of course this creates costs of their own).
Is my policy renewed every year?
Each policy has different terms and conditions so you will have to look closely at how the policy is renewed. Unlike health insurance, you could find a better deal than you have because as long as you keep your teeth healthy there is generally no premium for anyone with a policy under the age of 50. After a certain age the policy can get more expensive – at this point you might want to consider locking in an ongoing cost with your provider.
NHS pricing bands for the UK
NHS pricing bands for England
NHS pricing bands for Wales
NHS pricing bands for Scotland and Northern Ireland
Also keep in mind:
- Depending on what policy you take out there might be limits each year of close to £1000, with some as low as £500. The work is performed at either private practice or and NHS clinic.
- Most policies set a lower age-range of 18. Make sure to check for the highest age possible when taking out insurance.
Why do I have to pay for dental work if it is covered by the NHS?
In Wales and England, dental charges for the NHS are in three bands, 1-3 depending on the severity of treatment required. In Northern Ireland and Scotland you will have to pay 80% of dental fees up to £384 per procedure. Private dental insurance policies will cover the difference that you have to pay between what is covered on the NHS and what you need to pay for.
I have a friend who had free dental work: am I eligible?
There are some exemptions from paying for dental insurance:
- Pregnant women
- Children under 18
- Women who have given birth less than 12 months ago
- Young adults under the age of 19 and in full time education
- Those receiving benefits (means-tested).
Everyone else will have to pay for dental treatment as explained above.
I have perfect teeth – do I need insurance?
If you have great dental hygiene and don’t think that you will get the full benefit out of dental insurance, you could consider ‘self-financing’ your own personal plan. This would involve saving a set amount each month that you put in to a high-interest account. If you ever need work done you can take the money out, and if you don’t need treatment, you keep the money!
Are all policies created equal?
No – there is a wide range of different options available, and you will have to read the terms and condition very closely to make sure you know exactly what is covered.
A very broad way of looking at dental insurance is to think of it as covering routine and emergency treatment, sometimes even worldwide.
For example; low-end policies can start for under £5 and have options of what is covered. If you send £20 and above you will begin to be covered by private treatment costs.
Do I need insurance if I am already covered by my employee?
Some employees offer this as a benefit – check to see what is covered, and you might be able to include extra for an increased monthly fee.
What is an excess and how does it make my monthly payments cheaper?
When you take out a plan you can specify how much you want your excess, or deductible to be when you claim for treatment. The higher you make your excess, the less you will have to pay each month. If you don’t think that you will have much work than this might be the best option because it could work out cheaper over the long term. It varies from plan-to-plan and you will have to take in to consideration your circumstances when deciding.
My dentist is offering me a great way to spread out my payments – should I take it over dental insurance?
This is a common situation but should be scrutinised closely before you say yes. This type of plan is called a capitation plan’ and works slightly different to an insurance plan.
Your dentist will want to sit down with you and discuss who much work you are estimated to have in a year. At this point you will come up with a figure, for example they think that you will have £240 in treatment for the year. If you end up only having two check-ups in the year you will still be paying £20 per month, but not requiring treatment near that amount.
Under basic dental insurance, that starts at £5 (£60 per year), you can be covered for check-ups at no additional cost, for a fraction of the amount.
This type of plan could work out well for you, but don’t be afraid to ask for a review every year to make sure you don’t end up paying too much.
I’m not happy with the way I have been reimbursed and treated – what should I do?
Do not be worried about complaining if you think you have been unfairly treated, or rejected for any treatment that you think you should be entitled to.
If you do not hear back within 8 weeks you can take your claim to the ‘Financial Ombudsman‘. The Ombudsman is an independent entity that has the finally say on whether you have been treated fairly by your insurer. To find out more about how to make a complaint you can read the ‘Money Saving Expert’s’ guide.