Secondary Dental Insurance

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
June 14, 2023

While some Americans aren’t covered by a dental insurance plan, others are fortunate to be covered by not just one, but two, policies. Secondary dental insurance isn’t common, but it typically happens when two spouses receive dental benefits from their employers and include each other as dependents.

Learn more about what secondary insurance is and how it works below.

Can you have two dental plans?

Yes, you can have two dental insurance plans. This is what is referred to as secondary dental insurance, also called dual insurance or dual coverage.

What is secondary dental insurance?

Secondary dental insurance is a separate insurance policy that covers you in addition to your primary dental insurance. Oftentimes, an individual may have secondary dental insurance if they have coverage through their employer as well as a plan where they’re a dependent (e.g., through a spouse’s plan) or if they have two jobs that both provide coverage.

How does secondary dental insurance work?

Many people who aren’t familiar with secondary dental insurance believe that it means they get twice the benefits and coverage (e.g., getting double the free annual cleanings and exams instead of the typical two). However, this isn’t the case.

Benefits carriers work together when a person has dual coverage in what is called coordination of benefits (COB). One policy — the one where you're the primary account holder — will be labeled your “primary insurance,” which will pay out benefits first. The secondary carrier accepts a claim only after the primary claim has been paid, when they will require a copy of the primary payment information. Both insurers will make sure that the combined amount paid by the two does not exceed the total amount the particular dentist charges for the service.

What is Coordination of Benefits?

COB is the process for determining which plan pays for dental services first when a person has dual insurance.

Some COB provisions involve a detailed process to determine which plan pays for what, while others limit what a plan will cover. State laws and regulations may also dictate how COB works. Review the details of both insurance carriers and policies to make sure you understand how costs for dental services will be divided.

Non-duplication of benefits rules

Certain dental insurance policies contain a clause that applies to individuals with dual coverage. In this clause, if the primary plan already paid for the same amount or more than what the secondary plan allows for the same treatment, that secondary plan will not pay out any benefits.

The benefits of dual dental insurance coverage

While you won’t get double coverage, dual dental insurance has some other advantages, including:

  • Potential added savings for care beyond basic preventative procedures
  • Access to a wider range of in-network dental care providers
  • Avoid lapses in coverage caused by typical waiting periods

How do I know which is my primary and which is my secondary dental insurance plan?

In most cases, an individual’s primary plan is the one provided by their employer and the secondary is the one where they’re the dependent. If you are the account holder for both policies, the primary plan is the one that’s provided coverage the longest.;

Upgrade your dental coverage with Spirit Dental & Vision

Whether you have one dental insurance plan, two plans, or no plan, it’s time to evaluate costs and explore options to ensure you’re getting coverage for important oral health care. Different carriers and state laws will dictate how benefits work — do some research to determine whether secondary dental insurance will put you at an advantage.

See available, affordable plans in your area with Spirit Dental & Vision.

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