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Around 160 million Americans get private dental coverage through an employer or other group program, according to a 2019 study by the NADP¹. But what if you’re someone who doesn’t get dental insurance benefits from an employer, whether you’re self-employed, employed part-time, or retired? That’s where independent dental insurance comes in.
Insurance companies provide independent dental insurance to allow individuals to get quality, affordable dental plan without having to go through an employer. Also known as individual dental insurance, personal dental insurance, direct dental insurance, or standalone dental insurance, independent dental insurance is dental coverage purchased directly from an insurance provider.
The entire enrollment process is typically straightforward. You can enroll in dental insurance online without needing an agent (though you can always reach out to a customer service representative if you require assistance.) And since enrollment is immediate upon completing the application process, you can get covered cleanings and X-rays typically by the 1st of the next calendar month from a dental provider of your choice.
We’ll take you through the typical process of getting individual dental insurance so you can start benefiting from dental coverage as soon as your plan is active.
If you’ve ever bought health insurance in the past, you know it can be a tricky process. Between having to wait for annual enrollment periods, providing sensitive personal information, choosing between insurance carriers, waiting for approvals, and having to pay typically costly fees for coverage, it can get really intimidating really fast.
Fortunately, online dental insurance enrollment is typically much easier. You can purchase dental insurance directly from an insurance provider, without having to go through your work’s HR department or deal with other group plans. No need to wait for specific enrollment periods – you can enroll in dental insurance 24/7, 365 days a year. What’s more, dental insurance plans are relatively affordable, with plans starting at just $20/month* in some states.
To purchase dental insurance online, the first step is to request a free quote. Guardian Direct® requires basic information to provide an accurate quote based on your location, including:
Your first and last name
Your age range
Your email address
The names and ages of any dependents who will be covered under your plan
Basic information about your dental preferences
After you’ve submitted that information, you’ll be able to review your plan options based on your location and your indicated preferences. Once you’ve chosen the right plan for you, you can enroll in a plan immediately with guaranteed acceptance and instant approval. After enrolling, you can start enjoying your benefits very quickly, with cleanings and X-rays covered after the 1st of the next calendar month.
Dental insurance rates typically do not vary if you enroll online versus over the phone or through an agent. However, many choose to enroll in dental insurance online due to the convenience and speed. Guardian Direct allows applicants to enroll in a plan within minutes at any time of day. If you choose to purchase insurance over the phone or through an agent, you may have to wait for specific business hours or an available representative.
Note that typically sales, discounts, and coupons generally do not apply to dental insurance. Dental insurance rates are typically fixed by a variety of factors, including the insurance carrier, your location, the type of plan you choose, and the coverage amounts offered.
Some patients opt to join dental savings plans instead of enrolling in a dental insurance policy. While discount dental plans and dental insurance can both help you get the dental care you need while helping you save on out-of-pocket expenses, they are very different from each other. Dental discount plans are not insurance policies. Dental discount plan participants may be eligible to receive discounts on services with participating dentists only. Savings can be anywhere from 10-60% depending on the service, and costs may range from approximately $80-$200 per year.²
Employer dental plans are offered through work and are typically considered group plans. Employers aren’t required by law to offer dental insurance plans like many are required to offer health benefits. However, many employers still do offer dental benefits. A 2019 study by the NADP found that about 93% of Americans with private dental coverage received their benefits through an employer or other group program.³ Employer-sponsored dental insurance plans are typically paid via paycheck deductions and involve an out-of-pocket contribution to premiums. Employees are typically responsible for all out-of-pocket costs.
Non-employer dental insurance plans are the same thing as independent dental insurance plans. Rather than getting these plans through a full-time employer, they are purchased individually through an insurance provider. Non-employer dental insurance plans are great if you’re a freelancer, self-employed, part-time employed, unemployed, or retired.
However, even people who are employed full-time and have access to an employee-sponsored group plan can still purchase a non-employer dental insurance plan if they’d prefer. As part of a non-employer dental insurance plan, you’ll be responsible for the full premium amount and any out-of-pocket costs, but you’ll also enjoy the flexibility to enroll in any plan you choose and continue your coverage even if your employment situation changes.
Dental insurance services are similar across dental insurance carriers. Many plans typically cover some of the same services and involve similar structures, including deductibles, co-pays, annual maximums, waiting periods, and the like.
However, every carrier is unique in terms of costs, coverage amounts, provider networks, and plan design. As you shop around for dental insurance plans, you may notice that different carriers offer dramatically different plans and coverage. Guardian Direct stands out for having one of the largest dental provider networks of over 100,000 participating dentists, along with comprehensive dental coverage options.
Guardian Direct Bronze is our most affordable coverage option, making it ideal for individuals looking to cover the cost of preventative treatment on a budget. It covers preventive services such as cleanings and x-rays at up to 100% and basic services such as fillings at up to 50%, subject to annual maximums and waiting periods.
Guardian Direct Silver is a great option for individuals or families who visit the dentist frequently and anticipate needing some more complex dental work. It covers preventive services such as cleanings and x-rays at up to 80%, basic services such as fillings at up to 50%, and major services such as root canals at up to 50%, subject to annual maximums and waiting periods.
Guardian Direct Gold is ideal for individuals and families looking for comprehensive dental insurance. It offers all of our dental benefits in one plan, covering preventive services such as cleanings and x-rays at up to 100%, basic services such as fillings at up to 70%, major services such as root canals at up to 50%, and orthodontia for dependent children under 19 at up to 50%, subject to annual maximums and waiting periods.
A Gold or full-coverage plan from a different carrier might come at a different cost or cover certain services at different percentages, even for an enrollee located in the same city. Similarly, a basic plan offered by a different insurance company might offer very different coverage from Guardian Direct Bronze. This is why it’s important to compare dental insurance plans before committing to one.
Not all independent dental insurance plans are the same. As you shop around for the right dental insurance plan for you, keep a close eye out for factors such as the size of the provider network, premium price, out-of-pocket costs, and coverage amounts.
You may want to take your time researching different companies and plans – after all, choosing a plan can make a real difference in how much you end up paying for dental care overall and how convenient it is to use your benefits. Whatever you do, be sure to request a quote so you know how much your plan will cost in your area before committing to a plan.
Ready to start enjoying dental insurance coverage? Learn how to get dental insurance.
Want to purchase dental insurance in the most convenient way? Learn where to buy dental insurance online.
How much should you expect to pay for dental insurance? Learn how much dental insurance costs.
How is individual dental insurance different from employer-sponsored dental insurance? Learn more about individual dental insurance.
What sort of services will be covered by your plan? Learn what dental insurance covers.
Which type of dental insurance is right for you? Learn about dental PPO and DHMO plans.
https://www.whydental.org/about/industry-overview (2019), accessed June 2021
https://www.dentalplans.com/dentalplans, accessed June 2021
https://www.whydental.org/about/industry-overview, accessed June 2021
Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.(exp.Invalid Date)
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