A large insurer will be working more closely with a West Coast dental insurer.

MetLife Inc., New York, is expanding a 2-option dental plan alliance with a unit of SafeGuard Health Enterprises Inc., Aliso Viejo, Calif.

The alliance gives MetLife and SafeGuard the ability to sell employers dental coverage packages that combine a dental health maintenance organization plan option with a dental preferred provider plan option.

The companies now are making the 2-option program available to employers with 25 or more employees in California, Florida and Texas.

MetLife first announced efforts to work with SafeGuard in 2005.

In August, MetLife announced plans to acquire Safeguard. The expansion of the existing 2-option plan marketing agreement is separate from the proposed acquisition, MetLife says.