Pros / It was available in the most regions.
Cons / The available plan options in the West were only average.
Verdict / Guardian Direct received either the highest grade or second highest grade for available plans, coverage options and pricing in each region except the West.
Guardian Direct provides good coverage options at affordable premiums in nearly every region I got quotes for, making this dental insurance provider our pick for the best option in the most areas. In addition, plans were available in each region I got quotes for and the quote process is among the best I reviewed. Overall, Guardian Direct is a great dental insurance provider worth considering.
Since the best dental plans depend on what's offered in your area, it’s very regional. As such, I got quotes for individuals, couples and families from the biggest cities in each region of the U.S. From these quotes, I compared the premiums, available options and the coverages. And for an easy comparison, I graded the results. In this evaluation, Guardian Direct earned the highest grade in four of the seven regions and had the second highest grade in two additional regions. In other words, there’s a good chance Guardian Direct is going to offer the most options at one of the best prices in your area.
On average, the premiums weren’t necessarily the lowest in each area and at each coverage level, but they were very close. For example, the comprehensive plan averaged $42.80 per month for an individual, which was about $7 under the average cost, but Physicians Mutual was $37.55 for the same level of coverage. In addition, the average premium for the basic coverage was $20 per month for an individual, which was the second lowest average. Only Delta Dental had a better average basic plan. However, Delta Dental requires its plan to be paid for in one payment (12 months of coverage), which means it has a bigger upfront cost.
The quote process for Guardian Direct is also more useful than other quote process. While it takes longer than the quote process of other dental insurance providers, the 6-step quiz provides a more customized quote. It asks you to pick the procedures you expect to need in the next two to three years, which is exactly what the dentists I consulted with recommended patients do before picking an insurance plan. After choosing the procedures you anticipate, such as dental implants or orthodontics, it provides the recommended plan. It also shows you the other available plans in your area, but this method highlights the best plan for your scenario.
One downside to Guardian Direct was the quotes for the West, which only received a B grade. While it offered three excellent coverage options, the prices were closer to the national average than other regions, which were typically between $10 and $15 less per month for each person covered than other dental insurance providers. Even in the Northwest, where most insurance providers were nearly double the cost of other regions, Guardian Direct’s quote was cheaper than in the West.