What Is a Guaranteed Insurability Rider in Life Insurance?

A guaranteed insurability rider lets you increase your death benefit without new underwriting.
Robin Hartill, CFP®
By Robin Hartill, CFP® 
Edited by Lisa Green Reviewed by Tony Steuer

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What is a guaranteed insurability rider?

After you’ve purchased a life insurance policy, you may want to increase the death benefit. A guaranteed insurability rider is a life insurance add-on that allows you to raise the value of your death benefit without undergoing a new medical exam or underwriting. Other names for this life insurance rider include “additional purchase benefit,” “guaranteed insurability option” and “guaranteed purchase option.”

You’ll still pay extra if you choose to add coverage. The rider will also increase your life insurance premium slightly, even if you never actually increase your death benefit.

The appeal, though, is that your premium is still based on your health at the time of your original life insurance application. That’s an advantage since life insurance tends to become more expensive if you develop new health conditions.

How a guaranteed insurability rider works

With a guaranteed insurability rider, you’re typically limited to specified option dates for increasing your death benefits. These may be based on life events, like getting married, the birth or adoption of a child, or buying a home. Or they may occur at certain calendar dates, such as every three to five years after you purchased the policy.

This rider is often worth purchasing if you expect you’ll need more life insurance at some point, such as if you plan to have children. You may also want to consider adding it if you believe you’re likely to develop a health condition in the future.

Many policies have an age limit for exercising the option to add coverage, often around 40 years old. After you reach the age limit, you’ll typically need another medical exam and new life insurance underwriting to increase your death benefit.

An additional purchase benefit can be added to both term and permanent life insurance. However, it tends to be more popular for permanent policies, like whole life insurance and universal life insurance.

A guaranteed insurability rider only gives you the option to increase your death benefit, not the term length. Many term life policies offer a guaranteed renewability rider, which allows you to extend a policy’s term without new underwriting, for free. Renewal premiums are often costly under this rider, though, and increase every year.

Despite the similar names, a guaranteed insurability rider isn’t the same as a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. Guaranteed issue life insurance is a policy that’s available to anyone, regardless of health status, but the death benefit is small and typically intended to cover final expenses only.

Learn more about life insurance

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