What Is an Accidental Death Benefit Rider in Life Insurance?

This rider pays out an extra sum of money if you die in an accident, but it has its limitations.
Robin Hartill, CFP®
By Robin Hartill, CFP® 
Edited by Katia Iervasi Reviewed by Tony Steuer

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What is an accidental death benefit rider?

An accidental death benefit rider is a life insurance policy add-on that pays out an extra sum of money if you die in an accident. Many policies also pay the additional benefit if you die from injuries within a specified period after the accident, such as 90 or 180 days.

The higher payout death benefit is also known as “double indemnity” or “triple indemnity.” This is because it may be double or triple the amount of money your beneficiaries would get if you died of natural causes.

Accidental death benefit riders are a common option for most types of life insurance, including term and permanent life policies. They’re slightly different from accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) riders, which offer a payout if you survive an accident or lose a limb or experience another debilitating injury, like blindness or paralysis as a result.

Accidental death benefit riders: The fine print

Examples of accidents that may be covered by an accidental death or AD&D rider include car crashes, fires, workplace accidents, falls and accidents involving firearms. The accidents that are excluded vary by insurer. Many policies won’t pay out the additional benefit if you had an accident while participating in dangerous recreational activities or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some insurers might not offer you the rider if you work in a risky occupation, like firefighting or law enforcement.

With some insurers, you can purchase stand-alone accidental death insurance instead of adding the rider to a life insurance policy. This coverage only pays out if you die in an accident. It’s most common among people who don’t qualify for traditional life insurance but still want their beneficiaries to receive some money if they die unexpectedly.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Fewer than 7% of deaths in the U.S. occur due to unintentional injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given that it’s far likelier you’ll die of natural causes instead of an accident, it’s important to make sure your policy’s regular payout provides enough coverage for your loved ones.

Learn more about life insurance riders

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