A life insurance rider is an additional benefit you can add to your standard life insurance policy for enhanced protection. You can tailor your insurance policy and add riders based on your specific needs and the specific products offered by your insurer.

Although you pay an additional fee for riders, most insurance companies require little or no underwriting for these add-on policies. A rider attached to a life insurance policy acts as a supplement that helps you fulfill your unique insurance needs.

For example, if you added a long-term care rider to your existing insurance policy, you could qualify for monthly payments if you need to stay in a nursing facility or get home care services.

In addition to providing enhanced protection, insurance riders provide increased savings by eliminating the need to purchase separate insurance products. They also give you the flexibility to buy different coverage as your needs change.

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Key Takeaways

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Riders can help you customize your life insurance coverage to meet your specific needs at an additional expense.

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Before buying a rider, it’s a good idea to compare the rider’s price and benefit to decide if it is advantageous for you.

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There’s a chance you’ll be unable to add a rider after your life insurance policy has been initiated, so it’s a good idea to find out what riders are offered when you first sign up for insurance.

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Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

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What Is a Life Insurance Rider?

In simple terms, riders are optional additions that enhance your life insurance policy's benefits and coverage. You can purchase riders when you sign up for insurance or, in some cases, at a later date.

Riders can improve your insurance protection and the financial support accessible to your family. They can be especially useful in situations not traditionally covered by life insurance, like becoming disabled.

Some riders offer benefits throughout your life by allowing you to access funds from your policy's death benefit.

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A rider, generally speaking, is an addition or modification to a document or contract. A life insurance rider modifies your insurance contract by increasing its coverage and benefits in a specific way.

How Life Insurance Riders Work

Life insurance riders are available in various forms, each with a distinct advantage. Riders benefit you by supplementing and filling in your life insurance policy’s gaps.

How Riders Work

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Your life insurance plan has insufficient coverage.

If your insurance policy isn’t sufficient to meet your anticipated costs, you'll need to purchase additional coverage or look into available riders.

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Add a rider.

In this scenario, look for riders that can provide extra coverage or benefits to fill in your unique coverage gaps.

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End Result:
Complete coverage that meets your needs.

Riders can help you cover a variety of gaps in your coverage.

Riders are optional, and you may only want to add them if your life insurance coverage is insufficient to meet your needs.

A 30-year-old male who purchases a permanent life insurance policy with a coverage amount of $100,000 may realize that his insurance policy has insufficient coverage for his current financial obligations, or he may be concerned that his needs will increase in the future.

To ensure enhanced protection, he might add a guaranteed insurability rider. This rider would allow him to increase the amount of his life insurance policy later without having to undergo another medical exam. He wouldn’t have to worry about future health issues preventing him from purchasing additional coverage.

For instance, at age 50, he could increase his coverage to $1,000,000 to ensure his dependents are financially protected if he dies.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all rider that meets everyone's needs. You can decide if you need a rider by looking at the available options and evaluating whether the additional protection outweighs your costs.

Types of Life Insurance Riders

Insurance companies offer various riders. Some of the commonly available ones are listed below.


Waiver of Premium

This rider waives premiums if you become permanently disabled or lose income due to an accident or illness before you reach a particular age. You’d stay covered without having to pay your monthly rates until you could return to work. This is an excellent rider to consider if your policy has a high premium.


Accidental Death

An accidental death rider increases the death benefit if you die due to an accident. The additional benefit paid in the event of accidental death is often equal to the original policy's face value, doubling the total payout to your beneficiaries. This rider is a good option if you are the sole breadwinner for your family.


Family Income Benefit

This rider provides a stable flow of income to your dependents when you die, which can help ease some financial strain for your family. It’s a good idea to look closely at the length of coverage available before you sign up.


Long-Term Care

This rider provides monthly payments if you need to stay in a nursing home or receive home care. Long-term care policies are available on their own or can be added as a rider to life insurance and can ease financial strain for your family if you become sick or disabled.


Return of Premium

You pay a small premium and get your money back at the end of your policy’s term if you are still alive. After you die, your beneficiaries will receive this benefit.


Guaranteed Insurability

The guaranteed insurability rider allows you to increase your policy amount in the future without requiring another medical exam. This can help ensure that future health issues will not prevent you from purchasing additional coverage.


Child Term

This add-on provides coverage if your child dies before a certain age. Term insurance can be converted to permanent insurance when your child reaches adulthood, and there are no medical exams required. The converted coverage can be up to five times the original term insurance amount.


Accelerated Death Benefit

If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, you can use an accelerated death benefit to receive a percentage of your base policy's benefit. Because of the interest accrued, insurance companies may deduct your payouts from what your beneficiaries receive when you die.

Each rider provides a unique benefit and caters to specific needs. The most common riders are those for long-term care, family income benefit, accidental death benefit, accelerated death benefit and waiver of premium.

Not all insurance companies provide their clients with these riders, even if they offer the best life insurance policy. Location is also a factor, as not all riders are available in all states.

There are some riders you won’t be able to add after you have initiated your life insurance policy. A good insurance advisor can help you evaluate the benefits of various rider options and then help you decide which of them is right for you and your family.

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A rider can duplicate coverage, so it’s a good idea to look carefully at what your insurance policy offers before you add riders.

Compare Life Insurance Rates

Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

Insurance Rates

Benefits of Life Insurance Riders

There are different types of riders, and each rider offers specific benefits. It’s a good idea to evaluate each rider related to your financial situation and the policy you’re purchasing.

Some careful research will help you ensure that any riders you sign up for are worth the extra premium. Life insurance riders generally offer the following advantages:

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    Riders allow you to customize your life insurance policy and access benefits that your policy doesn’t offer, enhancing your coverage.

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    Buying a rider is often more affordable than buying individual insurance products to provide each benefit.

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    Quick & Easy

    Many riders don’t require you to undergo the underwriting procedure necessary to purchase a new insurance product. This can eliminate hassles like medical exams.

Factors to Consider Before Adding Riders to Your Policy

Not all insurance companies offer all possible riders, and not all riders will fit your unique financial needs. You will want to consider what protection you need and decide if adding a particular rider is worth the cost for your family.


Check to see if you're eligible.

Before choosing a rider, ensure you’ve met all of its eligibility requirements. Some riders cannot be added after you initiate a policy.


Weigh the cost of the rider against its benefits.

You can weigh a rider’s benefits against its cost to determine whether to add it to your life insurance policy. If your base coverage includes the same benefits as the rider, purchasing the rider may be a waste of money.


Read the terms and conditions.

You can evaluate a rider’s benefits and exclusions by reading its terms and conditions. The fine print can help you decide if a particular rider is right for you.


When in doubt, consult a financial advisor.

Financial or life insurance advisors may provide an outside perspective if you have complicated financial or health concerns. For instance, smoking imposes a high economic and health cost. If you smoke, you may require expert guidance to determine which rider is the most beneficial.

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Not everyone will need to add a rider to their life insurance policy. You shouldn’t feel pressured to sign up for one if you know that your base coverage is enough to take care of your dependents if you die. Sometimes a simple policy is all you need.

Compare Life Insurance Rates

Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

Insurance Rates

Frequently Asked Questions

With several riders to choose from, it might be challenging to decide which is best for your needs. Here are some frequently asked questions about riders to help you choose the right ones for your unique situation.

About Mark Fitzpatrick

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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.