What is an accidental death rider on life insurance?

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states.
After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu…

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Reviewed by

Rachael Brennan

Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2022

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Here's the Scoop

  • An accidental death benefit pays your beneficiary a larger payout in case you die unexpectedly
  • Drowning, car accidents, and falls are considered accidental, but dying during illegal activities or dangerous hobbies is not
  • This rider is relatively affordable and can be added to most life insurance plans

When it comes to the future of your loved ones, one of the best ways to protect them is through life insurance. Life insurance helps cover end-of-life expenses, outstanding debt, and the loss of your income.

The most popular reason to buy life insurance is so your family won’t struggle financially after your passing, but there are many other reasons. From donating to a charity to starting your own legacy, life insurance is a versatile product.

If you’re interested in buying life insurance, you may have heard about riders you can purchase to add additional value to your policy. One of the most popular (and famous) add-ons is the accidental death rider.

Is accidental death insurance worth it? It depends on your situation, but it’s generally a good investment because it doesn’t add too much to your insurance rate.

If you want to see rates for an accidental death rider on life insurance, you should compare quotes with as many companies as possible. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool when you’re ready to see what quotes might look like for you.

Table of Contents

What is accidental death insurance?

When you buy a life insurance policy, you’re securing a large payment for your beneficiary after you die. The payment size depends on your plan, but people generally use a death benefit to make life a little easier after the loss of a loved one.

Purchasing an accidental death benefit will increase the payment your loved one will receive if you die in an accident. Accidental death insurance typically kicks in if you up to a year after an accident from the accident itself, but you should check with your agent to make sure.

Losing a loved one is hard no matter the circumstances, but losing someone to an accident can be particularly hard to deal with. Unexpected death leaves a difficult hole to fill, especially if that person had dependents.

Accidental death insurance helps fill that hole. An accidental death rider payout gives your loved ones the financial freedom to grieve your loss without worrying about bills.

Though all insurance companies are different, generally, accidental death will stay in effect throughout your policy until you turn 70.

What are examples of accidental deaths?

Accidental deaths happen when death is not an expected outcome for any event. Deaths that occur when you participate in a high-risk hobby do not qualify as an accidental death.

While there are many ways to die accidentally, the most common causes are:

  • Drowning
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Car accidents
  • Machinery malfunction
  • Fire
  • Poisoning
  • Gunshot or other violence

What doesn’t count as an accidental death?

Keep in mind that not every death counts as an accident. As stated before, you won’t get an accidental death payout if you die in a car accident while racing or if your parachute fails to open while skydiving.

However, your death will be ruled an accident if you don’t regularly participate in an activity. If you happen to drown during a once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving trip, it will count as accidental.

You also won’t get a payout if you die during illegal activities — it’s not considered accidental if you’re shot while robbing a bank. Make sure you follow seatbelt laws, too. If you die in a crash because you weren’t buckled in, your accidental death claim will be denied.

Accidental death policies vary by company. Some have extremely limited events that count as accidental, while others include dismemberment. If you have a dismemberment clause in your policy, you’ll be able to draw on life insurance funds if you lose a limb, become paralyzed, or are severely burned.

Aside from illegal activities, accidental death usually excludes death by acts of war. Even if you are a non-aggressor, you probably won’t get an accidental death payout.

Finally, you probably won’t get the payout if you die when you use alcohol or drugs. If you die in a car accident when you drove intoxicated or suffered an overdose, your payout will likely be denied.

What does double indemnity mean?

Film noir fans will be familiar with the concept of double indemnity, but it’s a real concept that you can elect for your policy. Most accidental death riders list a specific dollar amount as the additional payout, but some plans use double indemnity.

An accidental death rider with double indemnity simply means that the insurance company will double the face value of the policy if you die by accident.

Most insurance companies don’t get as specific as the policy did in the famous 1944 movie. If you’re hit by a train or drowned in a lake, the only thing that matters to the insurance company is that the death was accidental.

Is there such a thing as a triple indemnity rider? Yes, and this one is death-specific. If you die in an accident involving public transportation, this rider will triple the face value of your policy. This includes buses, airplanes, and trains.

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Who should buy accidental death insurance?

An unfortunate truth of life is that no one knows when their time on this planet is up. Anyone can die from an unexpected event at just about anytime.

That said, accidental death isn’t a bad investment for anyone. However, some people are more likely to benefit than others. The following people should certainly consider accidental death coverage if it’s within your budget.

  • Young people. Accidents are the number one cause of death for young Americans. If you’re signing up for life insurance as a young person, you should ask your agent about accidental death.
  • Hazardous job. While you’ll probably have to pay more for it, anyone that has a high-risk occupation is a prime candidate for this rider.
  • People who spend a lot of time on the road. If you drive a lot, either for work, school, or personal reasons, you have a higher chance of dying in a car accident.
  • You want peace of mind. When people depend on you, it can eliminate a lot of stress to know that they’ll be taken care of if you die in an accident.

Accidental death insurance is fairly inexpensive, so there’s no real reason not to get it if you want it.

How much does accidental death insurance cost?

There are two main ways to get an accidental death rider on your insurance. If you have a private policy, you can choose to add it as long as you pay for it. Some group life insurance plans — those offered through an employer — offer accidental death for free.

An example of this rider being added to your plan for free is federal employees. An accidental death benefit from the government is added to many federal employees’ life insurance coverage at no cost to the insured.

How much does it cost if you bought a plan by yourself? Every company is different, but the general rule is that you’ll pay around four dollars for every $100,000 of coverage you have.

For example, if your death benefit is $500,000, an accidental death rider’s estimated cost would be around $20 a month.

Find the Best Life Insurance Rates with Accidental Death Coverage

Getting life insurance is one of the best things you can do to protect your family financially in the event of your passing. If you’re worried about what would happen if you die unexpectedly, an accidental death rider can give you peace of mind.

When you’re ready to see what an accidental death rider on life insurance policies will cost you, comparing quotes will get you the best match for your needs. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what rates might look like for you.