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What To Look For in a Dental Insurance Plan

Updated on June 7, 2010

Having dental insurance can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. If an unexpected situation crops up and you need to have dental treatment, this can be very expensive. If you do not have dental insurance in place, you may not have enough money in your bank account or emergency fund to cover the costs. Even a regular check-up can hit you hard in the pocket if it is not covered by dental insurance. Unfortunately, dental insurance plans can vary wildly and it is very easy to end up with poor value-for-money if you do not shop around for the best deal. What should you be looking for in a dental insurance plan?

Check the maximum annual payout

The majority of dental insurance plans will only pay out a set amount each year. If you require treatments or check-ups that exceed this amount, it must be funded by you as you will not be able to claim it on the insurance. The maximum annual payment starts again each year, but you cannot transfer any unused allowance over to the next year. It differs according to the dental plan in question, but it is typical for the maximum annual payout to be in the region of $1,000 or less. If you suspect that you and your family may need dental treatment that exceeds this amount, you may want to look at taking out comprehensive cover.

Check who you need to use

For some dental insurance plans, you are required to use a specific dentist or dental practice. This can be a significant problem if you have built up a good rapport with your current dentist and do not want to change to a dentist who may make the process something of an ordeal to attend a dental appointment. Visiting the dentist is often bad enough, but it can be especially traumatic if you do not feel comfortable with your dentist. With this in mind, it is worth doing some groundwork to see whether the dental insurance plan(s) that you are considering will allow you to keep your current dentist.

Check the type of insurance plan

Like most insurance plans, dental insurance is tiered in price according to the type of insurance plan that you are taking out. Most dental procedures fall into one of three broad categories: preventative (such as regular check-ups or a scale and polish); basic or restorative (such as fillings, basic tooth extractions and some root canal procedures), and major (such as crowns, bridges, dental implants and complicated tooth extractions). However, this may differ depending on the insurance company and you may well find that a procedure that is classed as in the major category on one dental insurance plan may be deemed basic or restorative on another. You will often have to pay higher insurance premiums for procedures that fall into the major category, or your dental insurance plan may not cover these types of procedures at all. Look into this before you commit yourself to avoid any nasty surprises if you need major dental work in the future. 

Check the waiting periods

Having a dental insurance plan does not mean that you will receive dental treatment straight away. Many insurance companies require you to have been covered for twelve months or longer before they will pay out for your dental work. This could potentially mean a long wait before the procedure is actually carried out, and you will still be paying your premiums in the meantime. 


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    • Janellegems profile image


      6 years ago from Africa

      Thank you for explaining the facts of dental insurance. I am planning on getting dental insurance and this was very good information to know .

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very helpful information.


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