“Accidents happen” is my mantra when I’m wiping a spill or helping my kids try, try again. Fortunately, math mistakes and overturned oatmeal are easy fixes. More serious accidents need a bigger plan.
A traditional term life insurance policy covers death due to almost any cause (although most policies have a two-year contestability period and suicide provision). Accidental death insurance covers death specifically due to accidents as laid out in the policy. It has a more limited scope and won’t cover deaths from natural causes or illness.
Accidental death policies may cover you if you pass away due to circumstances such as:
Exposure to the elements
Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance is also meant to cover specific accidental circumstances. The important difference is that AD&D offers benefits if you sustain certain serious injuries even if you don’t ultimately pass away.
Details vary by policy, but generally you can expect to be eligible to claim a portion of the policy amount if you lose a limb, lose function (e.g., sight, hearing) in at least one body part, or have partial or permanent paralysis due to an accident. Some policies will pay 50-100 percent of the benefit based on the severity of injury, such as loss of hearing in one ear versus a combination of injuries.
A policy may also specify time limits for how soon after an accident you need to pass away or sustain an injury to make a claim. That is, if you hurt your back in a car accident and end up needing a wheelchair years down the line, the insurer may not recognize that injury as accident-related paralysis.
There are a few reasons why these policies can be attractive:
Accidental death policies may be cheaper than traditional term life insurance policies because they cover a narrower set of situations. Premiums vary, but you can get accidental death coverage for less than $10 a month.
Accidental death policies offer an advantage are a form of guaranteed issue insurance. In other words, approval is based on age only (insurers may cap the eligible age to apply at 70 or 80 years old). You don’t need to take a medical exam, so this insurance may be an option for people who don’t qualify for traditional term policies due to health issues.
AD&D has the advantage of paying a benefit for qualifying injuries as well as for death. Loss of a limb or injuries to your sight or hearing could leave you unable to continue your usual job. This coverage could help out financially while you figure out your next steps.
It may be convenient to add an AD&D policy as a rider to an existing term policy.
One major benefit of an AD&D rider is that you could get “double indemnity,” meaning your beneficiary could receive two times the face value of your policy if you pass away due to a covered accident.
Getting covered in case of an unforeseen accident is a smart way to look out for your loved ones. But just because insurance is available, and even affordable, doesn’t always mean it’s the best way to spend your money.
The biggest disadvantage of accidental death policies is how limited their coverage is. Accidental death and AD&D policies generally won’t cover accidents due to high-risk hobbies or careers, wartime injuries (which can include death due to a terrorist attack), or accidents that happen while you’re under the effects of non-prescription drugs or alcohol.
Essentially, if you are knowingly taking a risk, whether that’s javelin-throwing or drinking and driving, then a resulting accident isn’t out of your control in the way a piano falling from the sky would be. And if it’s within your control, the insurer likely won’t cover it.
A term life policy should also cover any circumstances an accidental death policy would, in addition to much more common causes of death. If you’re worried about a debilitating injury, you might decide that a broader disability policy covers you more fully for injury than AD&D.
Unintentional injuries are the fourth leading cause of death as of 2020, so it can be wise to have coverage in case of an accident. Of course, the leading causes of death in the United States are more likely to be diseases such as heart disease or COVID-19 than an accident. An accidental death policy can be helpful, but it might turn out that accidents don’t happen often enough to assume that a serious one will happen to you.
If you can get an inexpensive accidental death or AD&D policy, an additional benefit can help your loved ones financially in a difficult time. These policies can also be a good way to get some coverage if your health makes term life insurance a no-go. But in many cases, a traditional term policy can cover a much wider range of circumstances, while still being an affordable option.
Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.
Fabric by Gerber Life exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.
Information provided is general and educational in nature and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, financial, legal, or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. We make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use, and disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information.
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