Does travel insurance cover dental injury or elective dental work overseas?
If your travel insurance covers medical, chances are you're covered for dental too. However, these provisions generally only cover emergency medical expenses, so don’t expect a check-up to be covered by your insurer. One exception: Go Insurance recently started offering cover for overseas elective dental surgery.
Additionally, most insurers impose a sub-limit for dental costs, such as $1,000 per person. Make sure you've checked the dental insurance sub-limit before you head overseas.
What cover is generally provided for emergency dental work?
The exact cover provided will differ between insurers, but the dental cover section of a travel insurance policy usually covers:
- Treatment to relieve sudden and acute dental pain due to an infection or broken tooth. The treatment may involve antibiotics, temporary dressings or tooth extraction
- Treatment for injury to your teeth, provided this leads to sudden and acute pain
In order to make a dental claim you will usually need to visit a dentist, pay for the treatment upfront and then keep your receipt as proof to substantiate your claim. A per-person, per-journey emergency dental cover limit applies to most policies.
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General exclusions applied to emergency dental treatment
As with most other benefits under a travel insurance policy, there are certain circumstances where your emergency dental treatment claim will not be paid. These usually include:
- If your claim arises from a pre-existing condition
- Expenses incurred after two weeks of treatment from a dentist, although special approval may be granted in some cases
- If you fail to follow the advice you receive from your travel insurer’s emergency assistance line
- If you receive any health care treatment that is covered under the Australian Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with the country in which you are travelling
- If your claim is for damage to dentures, crowns, bridges or dental prostheses
- If your claim is for costs incurred in Australia
- If your claim is for dental injury sustained during your participation in snow sports activities
- If your claim is for expenses resulting from dental treatment using precious metals
- If your claim is for expenses incurred during a cosmetic dentistry procedure
- If your claim is for treatment costs caused by the deterioration and/or decay of your teeth or associated tissue
Does travel insurance cover cosmetic/elective dental work overseas?
Most insurers only cover dental work if it's emergency treatment, which means elective or cosmetic dental work is usually excluded. However, with more and more Australians travelling abroad for dental work, it's now possible to take out travel insurance for cosmetic dental work.
Go Insurance offers Australian travellers the option to add a Dental Tourism extension to their policy for an additional premium.
What does the Go Insurance Dental Tourism option cover?
Up to $10,000 in trip cancellation cover: Provides cover in the event that your trip is cancelled prior to commencement due to:
- The death or hospitalisation of the dental practitioner that you have organised to perform your treatment
- Major damage to the dental facility in which you are scheduled to receive the treatment
- Other circumstances noted in the policy document that are selected by you when apply for the cover
Up to $25,000 for emergency dental treatment, additional transport and expenses if you experience complications following the treatment:
- Reasonable costs of emergency treatment to treat complications
- Reasonable cost of additional transport and accommodation for you to remain the location you are staying in until fit to travel
- Reasonable cost of travel and accommodation for relative or travelling companion to travel to or stay with you if certified as necessary following the complications
Up to $5,000 for return travel and accommodation for remedial dental treatment:
- Provides cover for the cost of travel and accommodation incurred to return to the same travel destination to receive remedial treatment. Will only be paid if Eligible Dental Treatment is not successful within two months of original treatment or one month after return to Australia. You must provide certified proof that remedial treatment is necessary
General conditions of this cover
- Eligible treatment must be performed at a dental surgery that is properly regulated in the country it is situated in. Practitioner must be properly registered in accordance with the regulations of that country in which they practice.
- The dental tourism extension only covers elective dental treatment and does not apply if you are travelling to obtain essential treatment
- No claim will be paid for costs incurred if you have not followed the pre-operative advice or instructions issued by the dental practitioner
- No claim will be paid for claims due to professional negligence of dental practitioner
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Considering heading abroad for dental tourism? Some steps to play it safe
- Take time to research the hospital before receiving treatment. Make sure you choose a reputable facility that has been recommended by other travellers and expatriates living in that country. It's best to allow yourself time to actually visit the facility before receiving treatment. You should also be able to verify the qualifications of the dental practitioner.
- Ask questions about the timeframe and treatment plan. Before committing to the surgery get an idea of the total cost, recovery time following surgery and whether or not it is safe to travel following treatment.
- Be flexible with your return date. It's possible you may have to stay longer than you planned to receive follow-up treatment so it's worth keeping your travel dates and airfare flexible.
- Take the necessary precautions after receiving the surgery. Make sure you do what is necessary to ensure you recover properly following the treatment. It might be tempting to throw caution to the wind and enjoy the final days of your trip abroad but just make sure you are taking the necessary steps to avoid any injury or infection.