If you are unable to work because you suffer from an illness, disease or have an accident, it is important that you ensure your income is covered to protect your lifestyle and your family.
Throughout your life, your expenses tend to increase; perhaps from taking on a bigger mortgage or funding your children’s education. So it becomes increasingly important to make sure that in the event of your ill health your monthly outgoings can still be paid.
Dentists’ Provident’s claim statistics show that during 2012 some 14% of male and 6% of female claims paid were for accidents and it only takes a slip on the ice or falling off your bike on a family outing for you to take time off work while you wait for your injuries to heal. But it is also important to protect yourself for potentially longer term absences from work such as if you are diagnosed with cancer. In the same year 19% of female and 6% of male claims paid were for cancer with one female dentist being paid benefits of over £50,000 over 11 months, while she recovered from cancer.
Not only do you need to cover yourself for accidents or longer term illnesses that may prevent you from practising and therefore earning, but the injuries that you can suffer every day in your practising life. Because dentistry is such a physical profession, requiring flexible hands and fingers, good eyesight and the ability to move freely, it only takes a relatively minor injury to prevent you from doing your job. Add to that the risk of stress-related illnesses, back, or neck problems and it’s clear that any dental practitioner is exposed to the risk of illness or injury, at any age. Dentists’ Provident is currently paying long term benefits to around 150 of its 13,500 members, some of whom are only in their thirties.
“The truth of the matter is that dentists often spend more time worrying about their patients’ health than their own,” suggests Independent Financial Adviser Martin Haines from Dental Financial Associates. “Many work too many hours chair-side, often in less than ideal conditions and all whilst running a business at the same time as providing clinical care. It means that by the time they are in their forties, a number of dentists we see are already starting to show signs of ill health, and often it is this that has prompted them to find out what their options are but by this time it’s often too late to obtain the right cover on the right terms.”
Without some form of income protection to support you when you need it, the impact of being unable to work, whether for a couple of weeks, several months or much longer, can be devastating, particularly if you have dependants.
“Any time can be a good time to start protecting what is important to you, but catching up later in life, particularly if health problems have already begun to take hold, may result in special terms.” says David Jones, Head of Member Services at Dentists’ Provident. “We find many of our members don’t review their income protection as often as they need to ensure it is appropriate for their current life stage,” he continues. “Our flexible plan means you can tailor it to your career and life stage and this should be taken greater advantage of.”
So what kind of cover do you need and where do you begin to look for it? “Your greatest asset is almost always your yet-to-be-earned income,” says Martin. “For some this could be in excess of £100,000 per year for twenty or thirty years. It’s a very large sum to leave unprotected, so it’s important to get it right.”
A quick search on the internet will reveal that there are plenty of insurers offering income protection policies. Unsurprisingly, however, the devil’s in the detail and when you’re time poor it can be a daunting prospect to sift through all the options. You might like to take professional advice to help you make an informed choice and to highlight the areas that might be most important for your particular circumstances.
Sue Delahunty, an Independent Financial Adviser from Wealthmasters for dentists, has observed numerous claims made by dentists over the years and knows how important it is to be able to trust the provider to offer a good claims service when things go wrong. “Empathy, understanding and above all efficiency in managing your claim are what make some providers stand out from the rest.” She explains “of course it’s only when you actually have reason to claim that you find out whether your choice of policy was the right one, but opting for a policy on price alone will rarely reward you in the long term. Unlike home and car insurance, for which you can change provider every year to make sure you’re getting the lowest price, income protection is a long term plan, so it’s vital to understand the details of the policy and choose the right provider who offers you value from the start.”
Types of provider
There are several different types of provider, from high street insurers and banks that offer cover to a wide range of professions, to friendly societies and other mutuals whose policies are generally more specialised. With some contracts, having a long term savings element to your plan can also deliver an attractive lump sum on retirement.
For dentists, certain elements of income protection insurance have more significance than for other professions, such as having the opportunity to receive benefits from the first day of sickness, so it could be sensible to consult those with particular experience of this sector.
Your health, your business and your family are obviously all very important to you so, if you don’t have cover or haven’t reviewed the protection you have in place, now could be the ideal time to take professional advice.
For further information please contact Sarah Bradbury; Head of Marketing and Communications on +44 20 7400 5716 (We may monitor calls to improve our service); Mobile: 07795 756613 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Dentists’ Provident, 91-94 Saffron Hill, London, EC1N 8QP