Dentists’ Provident CFO, Kirby Mardle, tells Rebecca Tomes why being an income protection specialist really matters and why working more with IFAs and their clients in the dental profession is firmly on their radar. Kirby explores how Dentists’ Provident has ensured business success for over a hundred years and how it is increasing support for advisers as the relationship between the financial advice and dental professions continues to grow.

RT: You are one of the only companies offering just income protection exclusively for dental professionals and have done so for more than 110 years. Why have you chosen such a narrow niche and continue to do so? 

KM: Over the years we have, of course, considered expanding and looked into other markets. In fact back in 2018 we expanded our target market to include the wider dental profession namely, dental hygienists and therapists. However, every time we have looked at expansion, the same question keeps coming up: “What would make us different from the insurers already serving that market?” and we just don’t have a satisfactory answer.


Our USP doesn’t come from plan features or extraneous benefits, it comes from the quality of our service, for example, the personalised nature of our underwriting for every applicant and it’s the same with our claims decisions. I also think by becoming a generalist we risk losing this. One business objective we have always had is that we are here for the long term, which means running a sustainable business model. For us, it has never been about size, so remaining a specialist fits in with that goal.

RT: Your claims rates for 2021 just released in your ‘claims statistics report’ show an impressive payment ratio of 98.9%. How have you been able to maintain such a high ratio in the light of increased claims due to the impact of the pandemic? How do you differ in what you do? 

KM: I believe this really comes down to the time and effort that we invest upfront in the application process, as it gives our members peace of mind that they have a reliable plan in place. In some instances, a lot of importance can be placed on making application processes ‘quick’ and that can mean what should be done during the underwriting happens at the claim stage. Instead, we focus on making the application process ‘efficient’ so when a claim does comes in, we are able to focus on the job at hand of assessing that claim. Of course, it also really helps to have a good claims team in place. The people in our team are very experienced and have worked with the dental profession for a number of years. That means they really understand what a dentist can and can’t do in terms of their day-to-day job, which is very important with income protection.


RT: You have seen an increase in business coming through IFAs throughout the years. What are you doing internally to meet their needs, so they can best service their clients? 

KM: We have seen some notable changes in terms of how the dental profession has engaged with the IFA industry in recent years. Historically, there were a small number of key IFA firms, which meant that managing those relationships was less of a challenge. However, as numbers have grown over the years, we decided the time was right to bring on a dedicated resource. So, Peter Dunn joined us as a consultant last year and he is responsible for the day-today management of our intermediary relationships. Since starting with us, Peter has already met with a number of IFAs who have fed back some very useful information, which we have already taken action upon. We’ve got great products and great service and are very keen to talk to IFAs about how we can support them in working with clients in the dental profession and making sure that those clients’ needs are met most effectively and efficiently.

About Kirby Mardle

Kirby was appointed to the Dentists’ Provident Board in 2019 and has operational oversight of the finance and member services teams. She joined the society in 2006 as a member services consultant. She later moved into the finance team and following her qualification as a Chartered Certified Accountant, was appointed as head of finance in 2012. She is also the head of human resources.





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