Andrew Morris, business development director, Unum Dental, discusses the importance of dental cover


Ok. That headline’s a spoiler. But had I asked, ‘what’s the most popular flexible benefit selected by employees?’ or ‘what benefit do employees most want to see introduced?’ would you have said corporate dental cover?

In 2013, just 7% of employers offered dental insurance to all employees. Yet, Reward & Employee Benefits Association’s 2016 Benefits Shift survey revealed where employees have the opportunity to choose it, dental tops the popularity poll. For those without, the 2014 Capita Employee Insight Survey highlighted as many as 44% of employees wanted it introduced.

Often, what employers believe employees want and what they actually want doesn’t match.

So why should dental be the word on every employer’s lips?

Employee benefits

Cost is one of the main reasons why people fail to visit their dentist. NHS costs rose by 5% in 2016 with another 5% rise earmarked next year. Meanwhile, private fees are unregulated and can fluctuate widely.

Dental insurance helps manage the cost of treatment, including the regular twice-yearly visits people typically make to their hygienist and dentist, meaning it’s regularly used. Employees can visit any dentist of their choice, too – whether NHS or private.*

What many people may not realise is that dental insurance covers much more than just routine check-ups and procedures such as fillings. From day one, it typically covers pre-existing conditions (except mouth cancer), implants, treatment abroad, accidents and emergencies, and can even help pay for mouthguards for the sporty.*

It’s also family-friendly. Members can add their spouse/partner and/or children – typically up to the age of 21, or even older if they’re in full-time education. This shows an employer’s commitment not only to their workforce, but also to employees’ loved ones.

It’s not just the finances that parents worry about. Children’s oral health is a major concern. Dental decay was the number one cause of hospital admissions for children aged five to nine in 2014-15, and admissions for tooth decay for all children increased by 20% between 2010 and 2015. Yet recent NHS Digital figures showed more than 40% of children didn’t see a dentist in the year to June 2016.

Ensuring children have regular check-ups will play a huge part in meeting the government’s new aim of making sure every child grows up free from tooth decay.

And for employers?

Employer benefits

For those businesses with their finger on the pulse, dental insurance can help steal a march on the competition. LaingBuisson’s UK Dentistry Report in 2015 found that dental’s popularity is rising so fast, the employer market grew an estimated 30% during 2010-14. And that’s set to soar in the next five years.

Dental cover also fits perfectly into the three key wellbeing pillars of prevention, intervention and protection. Enabling employees to afford regular dental visits can prevent minor troubles from becoming major concerns, even helping to detect early signs of more serious illnesses like mouth cancer. Other oral health problems can be linked to other serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Companies with an engaged and motivated workforce know what their employees want and value. Putting their interests at the heart of your business can help to attract and keep key talent.

For businesses unable to offer regular pay rises, it offers a different route to reward staff – especially as it can cost little to implement. Schemes can be fully funded by the employee, the employer or somewhere in between. Plus, it’s simple to implement and administer with a simple claims process –one that needs no employer involvement.

In short, corporate dental cover is highly valued and widely used by those employees that have it, and it brings tangible benefits to employers too. Isn’t that a reason to smile?

*Cover levels and maximum annual policy limit applies

1. Employee Benefits Magazine