How to enroll for individual vision insurance
Individual vision insurance can be a valuable option for people who either aren’t offered vision insurance through their employers or who are looking for alternatives to their employer-sponsored plans.
There are a few ways you can enroll for vision insurance as an individual. The most popular methods are online directly through the vision insurance companies, online via price aggregators or over the phone.
Any of these options can provide you with a monthly premium quote and help you find the plan that’s best for you.
QUESTIONS ABOUT VISION CARE COSTS? Contact an eye doctor near you to find out the cost of an exam with and without vision insurance.
What is an individual vision insurance plan?
You can buy vision insurance coverage for yourself or your family, independent from any employer. These vision insurance benefits can be purchased as a standalone plan or as additional coverage to a plan you already have.
While coverage varies widely from policy to policy, individual vision plans offer partial or complete coverage for things like:
Annual comprehensive eye exams
Contact lens fittings
Optional eyeglass lens add-ons
Progressive or photochromic lenses (discount)
Vision surgery (discount)
Individual visual insurance plans often cost more than vision coverage through an employer, since you pay the entire premium without employer sponsorship.
However, individual vision insurance plans can offer more flexibility if you’re offered a choice between multiple levels of coverage. Employers usually, although not always, offer a single plan.
The freedom to choose between vision insurance coverage levels can be particularly valuable when you know how much you’ll spend during the plan’s term.
For example, a younger person who only needs an eye exam and a pair of single-vision glasses could benefit from a vision insurance plan with lower premiums. But someone who needs multifocal lenses might consider a higher tiered plan or a progressive lens coverage add-on.
Contact lenses also can play a role in how you select a vision insurance plan, since they usually represent more frequent purchases. And ordering refill boxes means another trip to the optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam.
Certain insurance providers may let you combine vision coverage with dental coverage, whether you already have it or not. However, health insurance is usually separate from individual vision plans.
SEE RELATED: Are vision insurance premiums tax deductible?
How can I get individual vision insurance?
Most vision insurance websites make it easy to enroll in a plan online. The online sign-up process starts with a monthly premium quote.
Vision insurance coverage varies based on location, so the first step is typically to enter your ZIP code. Visit an insurance company’s website and look for a field where you can enter your ZIP code; sometimes it’s located on the homepage.
If it isn’t on the homepage, look for options like “Get a quote,” “Shop for vision plans” or “Become a member.” There will always be a way to get a premium quote and additional policy information before completing sign-up.
If you have questions about coverage, insurance providers have customer service staff available via online chat, email or phone. Representatives will be able to help you work through your options to select the coverage that best meets your vision needs.
Online price aggregators
Several insurance policy comparison tools can help you choose your coverage online. While policy information may be listed on the aggregator sites, final sign-up will usually take place on the insurance company’s site.
These insurance comparison services are usually free to use since they make money by referring customers to insurance companies. These services can be helpful, time-saving tools, especially in the early stages of your vision insurance research.
Over the phone
Vision insurance policy quotes and sign-up are almost always available over the phone, if you’re uncomfortable with online sign-up or simply prefer speaking to someone.
How to choose an individual vision insurance plan
With vision insurance quote(s) in hand, weigh your options. Take into account your specific vision needs, along with each plan’s limitations and maximums. As best you can, try to factor in your potential savings at year’s end.
Also take note of each company’s in-network providers. Large insurance companies like EyeMed, Humana or VSP tend to have more optometrists in their networks, but other companies’ networks can vary based on a few factors in your area.
Out-of-network coverage may still be available by way of a post-visit reimbursement check from your insurer. The amount of coverage varies plan to plan.
A quick call to your top two or three optical offices can be reassuring, knowing you’ll have vision coverage one way or another.
Once you’ve made your vision insurance choice, complete the sign-up process. This is usually completed either online or over the phone. Certain paperwork may also need to be filled out, depending on company policy.
And just like that, your future vision care has become a little more approachable and affordable.
NEED AN EYE EXAM OR UPDATED GLASSES PRESCRIPTION? Find an eye doctor near you who’s covered by your vision insurance and book an appointment.
Page updated January 2021