By Jenifer Dorsey
Buying your own dental insurance is not as easy as signing up for the first plan that sounds legit. In this blog space and articles within this site, we’ve discussed the importance of assessing your oral health and financial needs before enrolling. Once you’ve determined your criteria and found a plan to match, you may find yourself wondering, “Can I trust this carrier?”
The market boasts several individual dental insurance plans, many provided by highly recognized carriers, others by less widely known small and mid-size carriers. Catchy national ad campaigns don’t necessarily translate into customer satisfaction. Here are three ways to get a better feel for the company through which you’re considering obtaining coverage.
1. Check with the Better Business Bureau
For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has provided free business reliability reviews to consumers. It is a nonprofit organization that is not affiliated with the government; its chapters are run by boards of directors. BBB business reviews include a graded rating, whether or not the business is accredited with the BBB, reasons for the rating received including a complaints summery, government actions involving the company, an advertising review, and any other necessary information to help consumers make informed decisions. To investigate a carrier, visit bbb.org and the “Find Business Reviews” page for consumers; enter the carrier’s name to bring up the associated BBB file.
2. Look at the A.M. Best Rating
A.M. Best is an independent insurance industry credit rating agency that has been around since 1906. Best’s Financial Strength Rating, according to the agency’s website, “is an independent opinion of an insurer’s financial strength and ability to meet its ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations.” The scale ranges from A++ (Superior) to S (Suspended), and the ratings help consumers get a feel for the carrier’s stability or vulnerability. Each Financial Stability Rating also includes an outlook for the next 12 to 36 months. Look for a carrier’s rating on its website or marketing materials, or visit A.M. Best’s Rating Center and enter the carrier’s name
Click here for the “Guide to Best’s Financial Strength Ratings.”
3. Ask around
Do any of your family members or friends purchase their own dental insurance? Find out which carrier they use, how their plan needs compare to those of you and your family, and what their experience with that carrier has been. Are they satisfied? Have they encountered problems with claims? Did things look one way on paper and turn out another way in real life?
If you’ve had employer-sponsored dental coverage and were satisfied with the carrier that provided it, you may also want to see if that carrier sells an individual plan.
Finding a dental insurance carrier is important. You want to know your claims will be paid—and paid hassle-free. Do your homework before committing to a particular plan and company. After all, making the wrong choice can be frustrating and costly. It should also be noted that if you decide to make changes to your carrier or even your plan when coverage period concludes, you will be subject to new waiting periods under the new carrier and/or plan.
Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialities include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other oudoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA canditate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.