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Protect against critical illness

Every year in the UK up to one million people unexpectedly find themselves unable to work due to critical illness. 1These ailments vary, from heart attacks, strokes and conditions like multiple sclerosis, to HIV and certain types of cancer.

For any family, particularly those that are sustained by one income, this can have a disastrous impact. All sense of financial security and comfort is thrown into doubt and the future can become suddenly unclear.

It may sound callous to suggest that critical illness can cause greater disruption than a sudden death. We would all prefer to have as long with our loved ones as possible. However, many people are aware of life assurance cover – over 5.7 million households in the UK have a policy2 – and the indemnity from these claims can help stabilise an uncertain financial future if nothing else. In contrast, recent statistics show that only around half a million3 people in the UK have taken out critical illness cover, meaning that when illness strikes, the loved ones of those who haven't are left to care for them without compensation.

And what's more, governmental cuts to welfare – particularly the proposed reduction in disability allowances – will make it even harder for people struggling with critical illness to manage financially.

Critical illness insurance pays out a single tax-free lump sum on the diagnosis of one of the illnesses specified in a chosen policy. This money can be used to pay off a debt (such as a mortgage) or to replace a lost income should you be unable to work. In short, it can provide a singularly invaluable safety net for the future.

Like many people, dentists and their families would suffer financially if their income was lost due to critical illness. Many dentists earn enough to support their families on their salary alone. Without that wage, payments run late and debts can start to mount, especially when whatever remaining income is overburdened by the cost of remedial care. But why risk this? Critical illness cover is less expensive than most people would think – and it can often be included in life cover policies.

Like most insurance policies, there is an abundance of small print in critical illness cover. Some policies cover many medical conditions, whereas others do not. Choosing what you may need to protect you or your loved ones against may seem like a macabre guessing game, but by doing so will save a great many problems further down the line.

There are some conditions, however, that simply will not be covered. For example, musculoskeletal disorders, most commonly manifesting as back pain, will not be covered under the majority of critical illness policies, despite how debilitating they can be. Since many dentists suffer from these conditions, and as a consequence can be forced into early retirement,4 this is a pertinent consideration.

Any other current medical conditions will also affect your policy, as will your age, lifestyle and occupation. As with most policies of this nature, the earlier you start the lower your premiums are likely to be – but you must ensure your policy will cover a sufficient term.

Because of these complications and considerations, the best course of action is to seek out the advice of a financial specialist, who can assist you in getting the most appropriate cover for your circumstances. Remember, it is always beneficial to choose an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Unlike Restricted Advisers, IFAs can offer you a wide range of objective advice from all corners of the market. They are not affiliated with a certain company so you can be assured that there is no incentive on their part to suggest policies that do not serve your best interests.

Likewise, it is always prudential to find a financial adviser who understands the specific financial challenges and particularities of the dental profession. This way, any confusion linked to your profession can be succinctly avoided and you can be assured that the cover you choose will be a perfect fit for you as a dentist.

As dentally aware IFAs, the team at money4dentists have an awareness of the unique financial circumstances that dentists find themselves in, combined with a full knowledge of the ins and outs of critical illness insurance – and a myriad of other financial concerns. Their expert advice, acquired over the last 18 years, has been tailored to give dentists exactly what they need.

Don't risk leaving yourself or your loved ones in dire financial straits as a result of critical illness. Seek out expert advice to help you find the most appropriate policy.

For more information please call 0845 345 5060 or 0754DENTIST.

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1. Association of British Insurers (ABI) – Insurance and savings: Income Protection and Welfare Reform 2. Association of British Insurers (ABI) – Key Facts 2014: Life Insurance 3. Ibid 4. Brown J, Burke F J, Macdonald E B et al. Dental practitioners and ill health retirement: causes, outcomes and re-employment. Br Dent J 2010; 209: E7.

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