Sunday 18 August 2019

Your Questions: Is there a waiting period before I can claim on dental plan?

 

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Q: I am thinking of taking out dental cover, but I am hearing conflicting information about waiting periods before I can claim. Is it true that I can claim for some expenses immediately, or is there a waiting period?

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A: The answer to this question is yes, depending on the type of expense. Take the HSF Health Plans. Its cover for dental, optical and GP expenses commences immediately on joining, but you must be on the plan for three months before you can submit your claim, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.

So if you join today and have some dental work done just after joining, once you are on the plan for three months, you can submit your claim.

For those looking for comprehensive dental cover Mr Goode suggests they could consider a plan from the likes of DeCare Dental. It offers immediate cover for check-ups (two a year) and these are fully covered.

Cover for basic treatments such as fillings and extractions commences three months after joining, and cover for major treatments such as crowns and root-canal work is normally subject to a 12-month waiting period.

Unlike health insurance, which restricts cover for pre-existing conditions for five years, this is not the case on these plans, he added.

Q: I will be turning 65 in six months' time and I plan to retire. By then I will have a pension pot of about €450,000. After I take the tax-free cash, the pension trustees in my work have asked me to consider whether I would like to go down the ARF (approved retirement fund) or annuity routes. I don't know the difference between them and I feel a bit foolish admitting this to my work colleagues. Can you explain?

A: There is no need to feel foolish. Most people do not know the difference between the two.

The chief executive of the Irish Association of the Pension Funds Jerry Moriarty advises that you speak to either the pension trustees or a financial adviser to get a more in-depth understanding of your options. But here are some basic explanations.

With an annuity, when you reach retirement you will receive a guaranteed income for the rest of your life in exchange for the fund. You will have choices around whether the income increases in retirement or an income can be paid to a dependant when you die.

These will reduce the amount payable to you, but can be valuable in dealing with inflation. As annuities are linked to interest rates, many view them as poor value at present.

However, they do give you certainty of income for the rest of your life, Mr Moriarty says.

With an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF), you transfer your fund to a policy and it remains invested.

You draw down money from it, and hope that the growth in the fund offsets much of what you are drawing down as an income.

However, in this case, nothing is guaranteed. But whatever is left in your ARF will become part of your estate when you die.

You also have the risk that your ARF runs out before you die.

One thing to consider is that if you go with an ARF, you can switch to an annuity, but you can't change your mind if you go for the annuity now.

This is a big decision so it is imperative that you get independent advice, Mr Moriarty added.

Q: I joined a health insurance plan three months ago and was perfectly healthy on joining. I have now developed a medical condition which has just presented and my doctor wants me to have a minor procedure carried out. However, my insurer has advised that I won't be covered for this procedure. Is this correct?

A: When you join as a new member there are a number of waiting periods that you need to be aware of, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.

As well as the five-year, pre-existing exclusion, there is also the six-month initial waiting period.

This means that for any new condition arising during the first six months, it won't be covered until the member is on the policy six months. Mr Goode stresses that accidents are covered immediately on joining.

Mr Goode recommends that the reader schedules the procedure for just after the six-month period to be covered.

Also, the reader should contact their insurer with the procedure code, consultant's name and the name of the hospital where the procedure will be performed to make sure they are fully covered.

With an Approved Retirement Fund, you transfer your fund to a policy and it remains invested. You draw down money from it.

With a dental plan, cover for basic treatments such as fillings and extractions commences three months after joining the scheme.

Irish Independent

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