What is Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance?
Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance is coverage that gets triggered by two specific events. First, it pays the policy owner if they lose a limb or the use of a part of their body. Secondly, it pays their beneficiaries if the insured dies accidentally (i.e., not from natural causes).
Understanding AD&D coverage
While AD&D insurance might sound like another form of life insurance, it’s different insofar as it pays out in significantly fewer instances than a life insurance policy.
With life insurance, the policy’s beneficiaries will get the death benefit if the insured dies from any number of things. Generally, there are very few cases (like death by suicide within the suicide clause window) that would prevent them from getting paid.
With AD&D insurance, however, the beneficiaries only get the benefit if the insured dies unexpectedly. They can’t die from a medical condition or wartime activity, for example. It needs to be unforeseen circumstances like a car accident, drowning, or a fire.
Before buying AD&D coverage, the insured should carefully review what will activate the policy benefit.
What does Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance cover?
An accidental life insurance policy is a limited type of life insurance that only covers accidents. You might think of it as “accident expense insurance” because it can help to cover living expenses for you or your loved ones if tragedy strikes.
A typical policy can cover accidents resulting in death or dismemberment from:
- Exposure to the elements
- Traffic accidents
- Heavy equipment accidents
It’s meant to provide financial protection from situations out of your control and to provide financial security if the worst should happen.
What isn’t covered by Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance?
What you consider an “accident” might not be the same definition required by the insurance company. Even the best accidental life insurance policies don’t cover every type of misfortune.
Most policies have a long list of exclusions. Typically, insurance companies wouldn’t cover death or dismemberment from:
- Drinking and driving
- Natural causes
- Physical illness
- High-risk activities, such as skydiving
- Suicide or attempted suicide
- Drug overdose
Generally, a death from a covered event must occur within a specific amount of time after the accident. Otherwise, it might not be covered and the insurance company wouldn’t issue a payment.
Pros of AD&D Insurance:
- You don’t need a medical exam. An AD&D policy is appealing if you have a pre-existing condition that might prohibit finding traditional life insurance at an affordable price.
- You can get fast coverage. No lengthy questionnaires, medical exams, or waiting periods means you can buy AD&D insurance online quickly.
- Your family could receive an extra financial benefit. Known as double indemnity, your beneficiaries can get paid the full value of your life insurance policy and the full value of your AD&D rider if your death is an accident.
Cons of AD&D Insurance:
- Your coverage is limited. AD&D insurance pays a benefit only if your loss is from an accident.
- You could lose your coverage if you switch jobs. Many people get their AD&D policy through their employers. If you leave your job, you may not be able to take your coverage with you.
Accidental Death and Dismemberment vs Life Insurance
AD&D insurance is a very limited form of life insurance, but it isn’t the same as term, whole, or universal life policies. Those types of life insurance provide financial protection for your family in most cases of death, including accidental death. With life insurance, your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit whether you die from an accident, illness, or natural causes.
The difference between term life insurance and accidental life policy is that AD&D insurance pays a death benefit only if your death was caused by an accident. However, it also covers dismemberment, which life insurance doesn’t. You could get a payout if you lose a finger, hand, hearing, or eyesight.
When considering accidental death coverage vs life insurance, remember that AD&D coverage is not a replacement for life insurance. Many people should buy both types of policies. Accident insurance is generally less expensive, but even the best accident insurance isn’t designed as a substitute for life insurance.
Getting AD&D insurance
You can purchase AD&D coverage as a standalone policy, or you can add it as a rider to some life or health insurance policies.