What is a Waiting Period for Dental Insurance?
When purchasing dental insurance, it is important to understand the various terms related to the plan. One of the most asked about terms is “Waiting Period” which means the period of time that must pass once you are enrolled before you can use certain benefits in your dental plan. Waiting Periods will differ between carriers and plans, where some offer a "no waiting period," while others may require as much as a 12-month waiting period for certain benefits.
Waiting Periods for Specific Dental Procedures
Dental Procedures are often classified into three classes: Preventative, Basic, and Major:
- Preventative dental services include routine cleanings and fluoride treatments.
- Basic procedures are minor services including fillings and extractions.
- Major dental procedures often include crowns and oral surgery.
The waiting period between these classifications of services will often differ depending on your dental insurance plan. Before going in to see your dentist, consult your dental insurance carrier to ensure the procedure you are receiving will be covered at that time.
Why Do Dental Insurance Policies Have Waiting Periods?
Many consumers are confused by waiting periods. They assume that all dental benefits should be available to the enrollee at the time of the dental insurance policy’s effective date. However, waiting periods allow dental insurers to protect themselves from individuals who do not seek insurance coverage until they face a costly dental procedure. Unfortunately, this practice also affects people who did not put off dental coverage until it was absolutely needed. In many cases, if you can prove that your new policy began directly after another dental policy ended, your carrier may waive the waiting period.
Reducing Your Out of Pocket Dental Costs
Dental coverage needs depend on the individual. If you are not in urgent need of a basic or major dental procedure, enrolling in a dental insurance plan with a long waiting period can reduce your monthly premium.
If you are in need of a major dental procedure like a crown or oral surgery, you may want to enroll in a “no waiting period” dental insurance plan. If this type of dental plan is not available in your area, an alternative to dental insurance are dental discount cards. Although not classified as a traditional insurance plan, discount cards provide reduced rates on dental services. Find both traditional dental insurance plans and discount cards on our online dental comparison tool.