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Written by Bal Thandi, Specialist Financial Adviser

How illness or injury could hurt dentists' finances

dentists
3 min read

Bal Thandi, Specialist Dental Financial Adviser at Wesleyan Financial Services, shares Wesleyan’s top income protection claims made by dentists in 2021…

From the perspective of a self-employed dental professional, income protection is one of the most essential financial requirements to protect yourself from financial hardship.

If you were unable to practise due to illness or injury, are you confident you can comfortably continue to live the lifestyle you do now? Or is there a risk that, should this scenario become a reality, you would need to drastically change it or risk hampering your recovery by rushing back to work before you are ready?

For those who have never had to make a claim, income protection may seem like an inconvenient bill, but it’s important to put it into a wider context – we insure our homes, our valuables, our lives and even our pets, so your income should surely place highly, if not higher, on this list of essentials.

The top four claims paid by Wesleyan last year for dentists:

Musculoskeletal (MSK)

MSK related claims were double that of other common claims for the dental profession, topping the claims list and moving up from second place the previous year. At 30%, MSK related claims from dentists came in much higher than the general, combined occupation claims, which sat at just 18%.
Ergonomics within the dental setting is not a new concept, and the long hours sitting and providing clinical treatment is clearly taking its toll on the profession.
 
Alongside income protection, now might be the best time to invest in the dental equipment you need that will reduce the stresses of work on the body. Further to this, it might be worth considering strength training to target common areas that cause issues among dentists, such as the lower back, to support your musculoskeletal wellbeing. Resources and ideas for exercises are readily available online.

COVID-19

It should come as no surprise that COVID-19 continues to be high up on the list taking up 15% of income protection claims from dental professionals, particularly in the increase of ‘long Covid’ cases.
 
In comparison, the combination of all other occupations paid for COVID-19 related reasons were at a lower level of 11%. This could highlight the increased risk for the profession, with an increased likelihood of exposure to the virus in comparison to other occupations.


Mental health

An area that often goes under the radar as a risk to your income but rising in prevalence within the dental work setting - issues with mental health now makes up 15% of Wesleyan’s income protection claims from dentists.

A study which looked into the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of dentists in Wales revealed that three-quarters of respondents had gone to work despite not feeling mentally well enough.  Having a financial safety net allows dentists to recuperate without having the added pressure of financial impacts.

A concern we have for the year ahead is the ongoing pressures in dentists’ working and personal lives, with challenges such as industry pressures to reduce huge patient backlogs, and then dealing with the cost-of-living crisis outside of work. The knock-on effect for mental health is something that needs careful monitoring for the months ahead.

Cancer (tumour/malignancy)

With the same claim rate as mental health issues and COVID-19, cancer also features significantly for the dental profession at 15%.
 
While lower than the combined occupation rate which sits at 21%, the seriousness of the disease and potential time required to recuperate is something that needs to be factored into any protections you have in place.
 
Delayed cancer diagnosis and treatment times have been raised as a concern within the media, particularly as an overstretched NHS England hits a record high according to House of Commons research.

Are you adequately covered?

If you haven’t got income protection in place currently, or you aren’t sure if the cover you have in place incorporates these areas, it’s prudent to look for specialist financial advice, bespoke for your profession.

At Wesleyan Financial Services, we have a team of Specialist Dental Financial Advisers who understand your career and the financial support and protection needed.


We understand you may be short on time currently with the ongoing pressures of a busy practice so you can book a no obligation financial review.

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