Dental coverage isn’t necessarily the first thing most travelers think about when they’re planning the average short-term trip, but it can be an important part of a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Some emergencies can be dental in nature, whether because of injury that involves the mouth area, or because of a sudden unrelenting toothache that threatens to ruin your trip. Specific coverage for dental care is often included in the medical coverage on your travel insurance policy, and for long-term travelers who are purchasing a major medical plan, preventive dental care and maintenance may also be among the benefits offered by your travel insurance company.
While dental procedures such as x-rays, replacement of lost fillings, and repair of broken teeth are all usually covered by travel insurance, things like orthodontic work and dentures or bridges may not be covered. Be sure to check the exclusions and the specific wording of your policy so you understand what’s covered.
Primary vs. Secondary Coverage
As with medical insurance, you may want to call your dental insurance provider prior to buying your travel insurance in order to find out what kind of coverage, if any, they offer when you’re traveling abroad. Some dental insurance providers may cover all or some of your expenses for emergency treatments away from home, but others may not extend any benefits to you. If you are not covered for any dental services outside of your home country, you’ll need a travel insurance policy that offers primary coverage for dental emergencies, while a secondary coverage policy will work fine if you are entitled to a portion of your benefits while traveling.
Claims and Reimbursement
It’s important to understand that travel insurance works, in general, on a reimbursement structure. You’d be responsible for covering any costs for your dental care out-of-pocket while on your trip, then be reimbursed for the expenses by your travel insurance company once you’d filed a successful claim. Make sure you ask questions of your travel insurance company to clarify what kind of documentation you may need in order to file a claim if you experience a dental emergency abroad, as well as what the process should be if you need to seek treatment. Sometimes companies will require you to call their assistance hotline in advance before getting treatment for your dental emergency; failure to do so could mean a claims denial later, so take time to acquaint yourself with the specific terms of your policy.