Life insurance vs. AD&D insurance

Standard life insurance can pay out upon the insured's death no matter the cause, except in certain exclusions noted in the policy. This kind of life insurance policy has an "all cause" death benefit. Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, while still a life insurance policy, only pays out for the accidental causes of death and injury defined in the policy. Therefore, the main difference between life insurance and AD&D insurance is in the circumstances that trigger the policy's benefit.

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What is AD&D insurance?

Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance is a category of life insurance that only pays out a death benefit when the insured is in a covered accident that causes death or specific serious injuries such as paralysis, the loss of a limb, eyesight, hearing, or speech.

What does AD&D insurance cover?

AD&D insurance covers death and injuries resulting from accidents. The exact circumstances under which your AD&D coverage applies are specified in your policy, but you're generally covered for:

  • Loss of limb
  • Loss of sight, hearing, or speech
  • Permanent paralysis
  • Death resulting from an accident, such as a car crash

What's not covered by AD&D insurance?

While AD&D insurance may cover accidental death and murder, there are many causes of death and injury that may not be covered, often including:

  • Specified recreational activities
  • Overdose
  • Suicide
  • Natural causes or illness
  • Accidents occurring while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Injuries suffered while committing a crime, such as a robbery

Keep in mind that if you're in a particularly high-risk job such as firefighting, law enforcement, or the military, you may not be able to qualify for AD&D coverage. Shop around, as your eligibility could differ by insurer.

Example:When you participate in dangerous extracurriculars or work, you accept the risk involved. As a result, AD&D policies don't typically cover death or injury caused by high-risk activities, and standard life insurance policies may take the same stance.

The cost of accidental death insurance vs. life insurance

Accidental death insurance is usually more affordable than standard life insurance rates. Just like with life insurance, your AD&D insurance premium will depend on the information provided in your application and the death benefit amount you select. And the older you get, the more expensive AD&D will become. AD&D coverage should be specific to you, so talking directly with a life insurer can help you find the right options for your coverage needs and budget.

Do AD&D and life insurance combine?

Depending on the insurer, you may be able to combine accidental death and dismemberment coverage with life insurance as a rider on your life policy. Alternatively, you can get AD&D insurance as a standalone insurance policy to serve as a supplement to your existing life insurance.

However, standalone AD&D policies are more typical for individuals who don't qualify for standard life insurance but want some level of coverage — and they aren't available from all insurers.

When to supplement life insurance with an AD&D rider

If you don't already have life insurance or AD&D insurance and you want extra coverage for accidents, consider getting a standard life insurance policy with an AD&D rider. The AD&D rider increases your life insurance death benefit if you pass away from a covered accident, and it pays out a certain amount if you experience a qualifying accidental injury.

You often can't add a rider after you've purchased a life insurance policy, so be sure to ask about this rider while you're shopping for life insurance. It's typically more affordable to purchase a rider rather than a standalone AD&D policy. Compare rates and coverage options to determine what's best for you.

Do I need both life insurance and AD&D?

If you want coverage in case you're accidentally seriously injured, it can make sense to get an AD&D policy or rider in addition to your standard life insurance policy. An accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance policy or rider includes coverage for certain accidental injuries (as well as accidental death), while standard life insurance only pays out for death.

However, AD&D insurance isn't a substitute for standard life insurance — AD&D coverage only applies to accidental circumstances, while standard life insurance has an all-cause death benefit.

When would I need supplemental life and AD&D insurance?

Standard life insurance with an all-cause death benefit covers you for most causes of death, but it won't cover you for non-fatal injuries. So, if you already have life insurance and you're concerned about covering the costs of a serious accidental injury, it can make sense to supplement your life insurance with an AD&D standalone policy.

Is accidental death insurance worth it?

If you can qualify, term life insurance pays out for far more causes of death than AD&D insurance, and it may not cost significantly more. Therefore, if you're concerned about accidents, adding an AD&D rider onto a standard life insurance policy can make more sense than purchasing a standalone AD&D policy.

However, if you don't qualify for standard life insurance, AD&D coverage may still be better than no coverage. An AD&D policy may be easier to qualify for because it doesn't require a medical exam, and you can generally get an AD&D policy faster than a standard life policy.

How to get AD&D coverage or life insurance

If you're considering an AD&D policy, call 1-866-912-2477 to speak with a licensed Progressive Life by eFinancial representative. Or to further explore your life insurance options, you can quote a standard life insurance policy online.

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Learn more about life insurance policies.

Please note: The above is meant as general information to help you understand the different aspects of insurance. Read our editorial standards for Answers content. This information is not an insurance policy, does not refer to any specific insurance policy, and does not modify any provisions, limitations, or exclusions expressly stated in any insurance policy. Descriptions of all coverages and other features are necessarily brief; in order to fully understand the coverages and other features of a specific insurance policy, we encourage you to read the applicable policy and/or speak to an insurance representative. Coverages and other features vary between insurers, vary by state, and are not available in all states. Whether an accident or other loss is covered is subject to the terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in the claim. References to average or typical premiums, amounts of losses, deductibles, costs of coverages/repair, etc., are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. We are not responsible for the content of any third-party sites linked from this page.