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A life insurance rider is an additional feature added to a life insurance policy.  A rider is a legal term, meant to denote an amendment, change or addition to a legal contract.  Life insurance riders are features not found on a basic life insurance policy, and may provide benefits to the owner or beneficiaries of the life insurance contract.  A rider will have an additional charge associated with it in most cases over the standard cost of insurance, but some riders may be free.  Riders may be added before time of issue, or may be added after a contract has been issued.  The ability to add a rider after a contract is issued depends on the specific rider rules, which vary company to company.

Popular Riders

Disability Income Rider

This rider offered by most life insurance companies will pay an income if the owner of the policy becomes completely disabled during the policies lifetime.  If disability occurs, the policy will pay a set monthly amount either until retirement, or until the disability ends, depending on the exact language of the rider (varies company to company).  This rider can be relatively expensive compared to other insurance riders because of the risk to the insurance company, though it may be less expensive than separate supplemental disability coverage.

Waiver Of Premium Rider

The waiver of premium rider will waive any cost of insurance if the owner of the policy becomes disabled.  A disability will usually reduce income, and life insurance is often one of the expenses that people will cut first, even though it is important to own.  The waiver of premium rider will keep the insurance policy in force without any premium payments for as long as the owner remains disabled, or until age 60 or 65, whichever is first.  The waiver of premium usually ends at age 60 or 65 because this is the age that retirement normally occurs, at which point income would likely not be impacted by disability beyond this point.

This is one of the most common riders and is typically not too expensive to add to a policy.  This is useful to protect financial health if a disability were to occur.

Guaranteed Insurability RiderRider

This rider protects an insured person in case their health declines dramatically after a policy is issued, and there is a need for additional life insurance in the future.  This is extremely useful because this is a very common situation for many policy holders.  The guaranteed insurability rider will guarantee access to a set maximum limit of additional life insurance without any additional underwriting requirements.

This rider is doubly important because additional life insurance is extra useful to those people who have suffered a decline in health, since death is more likely to occur.  Examples of this include suffering a heart attack or stroke, diabetes, gaining a significant amount of weight, or any other serious illness such as cancer.  This rider is often not too expensive and can be a very important addition to many policies.

Accidental Death Benefit Rider

The accidental death benefit rider provides for an increased death benefit in case death occurs by accident rather than illness, which can be very sudden.  This rider may also provide a benefit for loss of a limb or appendage.  This rider is often very inexpensive, but is a bit like gambling on what will be the cause of death.

Accelerated Death Benefit Rider

The accelerated death benefit rider provides a life insurance death benefit payout before the insured person’s death in certain circumstances.  The circumstances that would initiate this early claim include terminal illness, a long term care event, or confinement to a nursing home.  This can be a very important benefit for people in these circumstances because the life insurance death benefit can pay the medical bills, protecting the insured persons estate and easing obligations for heirs.  It also can be a less expensive way to provide long term care coverage than a long term care insurance policy.

Some life insurance policies include this rider at no additional charge, and it is offered by all major life insurance providers.

Removing A Rider

Removing a rider may create an additional charge, so it is important to know the consequences of adding a rider to a policy before it becomes a part of the life insurance contract.  Rider charges vary depending on the rider, and from company to company they are all different.  Some riders may be included in a policy without additional cost, and others may have a substantial cost.  Please discuss any riders fully with your financial advisor before adding it to your policy.

At Life Ant, we always recommend our to our clients that they read the policy prospectus regarding any rider they are considering, so that all the details are clear.  We also welcome any questions you may have regarding your policies rider.

Riders Are Useful

Some people think that life insurance riders are just a way for the insurance company to make some extra money from the policy, which is true otherwise they would not offer them, but they also can offer very useful services to the policy owners.  The additional coverage provided by some disability riders, and the option to purchase additional life insurance at the same health rating as the original policy provided by the guaranteed insurability rider has significantly improved policy owners peace of mind and quality of life.  At Life Ant we believe it is important that our clients understand each rider fully and weigh the pros against the added cost of the rider.