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What is a Life Insurance Rider?

Jason Metz

A life insurance rider is an add-on to a life insurance policy that can help close coverage gaps or provide extra coverage. Life insurance riders typically cost extra, but the ability to customize a policy can be worth it. For example, you can buy riders that allow you to convert term life to whole life and riders that can help pay for medical expenses if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness.

If a standard life insurance policy doesn’t quite fit your needs, you don’t need to settle for a “one size fits all” approach. Here are some common types of life insurance riders.

Riders if you want more life insurance coverage

These types of riders typically allow you to purchase more life insurance coverage or change the conditions of your coverage in the future:

  • Annual renewable term rider: This can be added to a whole life insurance policy and gives you an additional amount of term coverage, such as five, 10 or 15 years of term life. You can also typically convert this term life insurance into a whole life policy without an additional medical exam.
  • Guaranteed insurability rider: You’ll have the option to buy more life insurance coverage at certain times in the future, regardless of your health.
  • Term conversion rider: This rider allows you to convert a term life policy into a permanent life policy under certain conditions. This is a good option if you’ve developed a medical condition that would make new life insurance very expensive, but you’ve decided you want whole life insurance.

Riders if you die or become disabled, critically ill or terminally ill

These types of riders give you some flexibility if you develop serious health issues:

  • Accelerated death benefit rider: If you become critically ill or terminally ill, this rider lets you use a portion of your death benefit while you’re still alive to help pay end-of-life expenses, such as medical bills.
  • Accidental death benefit rider: Pays your beneficiaries an additional amount if you die in an accident, such as a car crash or fall.
  • Critical illness rider: You receive a portion of your death benefit if you are diagnosed with a critical illness.
  • Disability income rider: Pays a percentage of your monthly income if you cannot work for an extended period due to illness or disability.
  • Long-term care rider: Allows you to use a portion of your death benefit to pay for assisted living, home health care, nursing home or other expenses that qualify.
  • Waiver of premium rider: Waives your life insurance premium payments if you’re not working due to disability.