Dental insurance can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. However, you must have the right plan for your needs to make it worth your while. When choosing insurance, it’s essential to dedicate time to comparing the options and making the best decision for your unique necessities.

Here are five essential steps for choosing dental insurance to guide the process.

Identify and Predict Your Needs

The first step in choosing dental insurance is figuring out what you need. Take a look at your dental history to determine how much you’ve spent in the past and what services you’ve utilized. Use your recent history to predict any upcoming changes that could impact your costs.

For example, many parents are able to keep their dental costs low while their children are younger. However, as they approach teen years, the kids might require braces. As braces require specialty services and can be quite costly, it’s worth looking at higher coverage plans as the kids’ age. Aging seniors may also have changing needs regarding dental coverage as they reach Medicare eligibility.

When in doubt, ask your dentist if they see any upcoming changes to your family’s care needs. If you can delay getting a more expensive plan until those needs change, it’s worth the savings.

Determine Coverage in Your Area

Next, check your options to see what plans are available in your area. Determine how far you’re willing to travel for services and narrow down the options based on those metrics. Evaluate the coverage options in your state, city, and even within your zip code.

This exercise will help you eliminate the options that don’t offer coverage within your area, making the selection process easier. It’s also worth considering what dental practices and specialists in your area are covered by a specific plan.

Don’t hesitate to ask your current dentist what insurance coverage they accept to help narrow down the selection process.

Ask the Community

When choosing a dental insurance provider, customer service is an important consideration. Insurance claims can be complicated and frustrating; having a provider who wants to work with you and help can make a big difference.

Ask friends and relatives for recommendations about dental insurance providers in your area. Ask about their experience with processing claims and resolving disputes.

Take some time to read online reviews about the provider you’re considering as well. Determine how long the insurance provider has been in business and if there are any red flags about their service.

Evaluate Costs vs. Budget

Getting dental insurance doesn’t always save you money. Choosing the wrong plan might result in spending more on premiums than you would for paying out of pocket each year.

Drill down into how much you’ve spent on dental work in the past. Use that data to compare the costs of insurance coverage. Remember to consider all the charges, including the deductible, copay, etc. Look for a plan that suits both your budget and coverage needs.

It’s worth evaluating cost-saving options when it comes to dental insurance. Look into a health savings account or discount coverage option when researching dental insurance.

Consider the benefits of a high-deductible versus low-deductible plan. Generally speaking, high-deductible plans have lower monthly premiums. These are an excellent option for people with minimal coverage needs. If your family only needs cleanings and the occasional filling, a high-deductible plan is a wise choice.

Conversely, low-deductible plans have higher premiums. If you have specialized needs or a history of dental issues, consider this option instead.

Read the Fine Print

Finally, be sure to read the fine print. Your coverage may cost you more than you expect. Some plans have a maximum annual coverage limit. Other plans only cover a certain number of procedures in a year.

You’ll also want to be clear on what’s covered in your plan. Some plans offer vague information about specialist treatment coverage. Don’t hesitate to clarify the coverage before committing and get everything in writing. Finding out that your child’s braces aren’t covered as they’re getting put on is an expensive mistake.

Take some time to compare and contrast the dental insurance options in your area. Selecting the right plan is well worth the time spent researching.