Dental Insurance: Understanding Waiting Periods

A bad toothache isn’t something you want to ignore. Unfortunately, dental care can be expensive. Without insurance, a simple filling could cost you $100 or more. A crown could run you closer to $1,000. If that would put a strain on your finances, dental insurance could help. However, don’t put off purchasing insurance until the pain starts. If you do, you could encounter a new type of pain – the waiting period.

How Waiting Periods Work

Waiting periods exist in various forms in different types of insurance policies. Essentially, they mean you have to wait a predetermined period of time before you can access benefits. Although dental insurance plans vary, they often include a waiting period. During this time, many non-routine procedures will be excluded from coverage.

For example, let’s say you have a 90-day waiting period that applies to all non-routine care. During this time, your policy will cover regular checkups and cleanings. However, other procedures, such as fillings, crowns, extractions or dental bridges, will not be covered during this time. If you need one of these procedures during the waiting period, you will have to pay the full cost out of pocket.

This is just an example. The details of your waiting period may be different.

  • The length of the waiting period can vary. Some may be shorter than 90 days, but some may be considerably longer.
  • The procedures that are covered and excluded during the waiting period can vary. Routine care is often covered during the waiting period, but the details of what is excluded may vary from plan to plan.

It’s important to read your policy carefully to understand how your waiting period works.

Why Do Waiting Periods Exist?

Imagine you have a serious dental problem. You want it fixed fast, but you can’t afford the procedure. Since you don’t have dental insurance, you decide to buy a policy immediately, figuring you can drop it in a month or so, as soon as the procedure is done.

This is exactly what waiting periods are designed to prevent. If people only purchased dental insurance when they need expensive procedures, dental insurers wouldn’t be able to stay in business.

Just as you can’t buy car insurance to cover the costs of a crash that has already happened, dental insurers don’t want you to purchase coverage for a problem that has already occurred. Waiting periods in dental insurance make it difficult for people to purchase coverage only for a month so they can get major dental work done during that time. 

Do All Dental Plans Have Waiting Periods?

Waiting periods are very common in dental plans, but not every plan has one. If you are worried about having a gap in full coverage, you can look for a plan without a waiting period.

This can be easier if you already have coverage. If you are simply switching from one plan to another, the insurer may be willing to forgo the waiting period.

But the easiest time to buy dental insurance is before you develop a problem. Don’t put off getting coverage.  Request a dental insurance quote today.


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