What Is Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance? (AD&D)

Key Takeaway

Accidental death and dismemberment is a type of insurance coverage often purchased with a life insurance product. The AD&D benefit covers losses resulting from serious injuries and accidents resulting in the loss of a limb, eye, or other impairment alongside accidental fatalities.

AD&D Life Insurance Image

Accidental death and dismemberment covers different scenarios than a life insurance product and is usually purchased as a rider to or part of a life insurance policy. The primary difference is that a policyholder is insured against specified non-fatal accidents.

Many people combine life insurance with accidental death and dismemberment coverage to to help provide additional benefits in case of an accidental death. This guide on accidental death insurance can help you determine what type of policy and insurance company is right for you.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance Explained

What is accidental death and dismemberment insurance? Accidental death and dismemberment coverage, or ‘AD&D’ for short, is normally added to a life insurance policy or as a rider. The policy covers scenarios in which the insurance policyholder is killed or injured, although a policy normally includes a detailed list of exclusions and limitations.

Depending on the policy features, AD&D insurance coverage may offer a double indemnity payout for a death claim. This means that if the accidental death insurance policyholder or a beneficiary makes a valid death claim, the payment value may be twice the policy face value.

The policy may indicate specific circumstances in which a claim will be payable as well as limitations  on the insurance coverage, such as periods in which an accident must occur for the relevant benefit to be payable.

Inclusions and Exclusions in Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance Coverage

Stand-alone AD&D insurance policies may cover only deaths resulting from specific accidents such as fatal traffic accidents, falls from height, drowning, and exposure to extreme weather conditions. 

The dismemberment portion of the insurance provides a defined payment to the claimant following a defined serious accident. This may include a calculated percentage of the insurance policy value depending on the exact impairment, such as:

  • The loss of a limb or other body part
  • Permanent or partial paralysis
  • The loss of sight, speech, or hearing

Insurance coverage might, for example, provide a 100% payment if the insured person becomes permanently paralyzed or is killed, reducing to 50% if the policyholder loses sight in one eye. Exclusions may be wide-ranging.

AD&D insurance coverage may exclude deaths linked to substance misuse, recreational sports activities, and certain professions. Likewise, if an insured person becomes seriously injured when committing a crime, AD&D insurance coverage may not pay a benefit.

When applying for both life insurance coverage and AD&D insurance coverage, it is important to disclose your profession or any high-risk activities, such as regular participation in contact sports; an omission may invalidate the insurance coverage.

Understanding the Variances Between Accidental Death and Dismemberment and Life Insurance Products

AD&D is not an alternative to life insurance but rather an extra benefit under a life insurance policy. Typically, a death due to natural causes such as old age, heart disease, or cancer will be covered by life insurance but will not be eligible for an AD&D policy claim.

In contrast, AD&D insurance may provide supplementary coverage for scenarios that would not be claimable against a life insurance product. For instance, an AD&D insurance rider may cover the loss of a limb, particularly when the policyholder cannot work or drive.

Insured parties have a confirmed death benefit, payable to their named beneficiary when they pass away–provided no outstanding loans exist and all premiums have been paid. To summarize the positive aspects of whole life insurance:

The Advantages and Drawbacks of Stand-Alone Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance

AD&D Features Table: Pros & Cons




Policy Coverage

Provides benefits for policyholders and their families in the event of accidental death or serious injury

Detailed lists of inclusions and exclusions mean not all accidents are covered, and policyholders may not receive a payout for certain scenarios


Offers additional benefits beyond base life insurance coverage

May not cover fatalities or injuries related to certain activities or professions

Death Benefits

Provides a defined benefit in case of accidental death or dismemberment

In cases of a stand-alone AD&D policy, there is no payout if the accident or injury does not meet the specific criteria outlined in the policy


Can help replace lost income or cover medical expenses resulting from an accident

Limited or no coverage for non-fatal accidents or injuries that do not result in dismemberment or permanent impairment


Can be purchased as a standalone policy 

Policy terms and conditions, including coverage limits and exclusions, vary between insurance carriers and policies

The main advantage of AD&D coverage is that it offers may offer additional benefits for fatal accidents or serious injuries. Many people in higher-risk professions may look to purchase AD&D insurance coverage to ensure their loved ones receive money and financial assistance if an accident occurs.

However, some insurance products may not be available to applicants in named professions, potentially including professional athletes and serving members of the military. Adding an AD&D rider to a life insurance policy may be an affordable way to add protection. 

The drawback is that AD&D insurance policies include detailed lists of inclusions and exclusions and will not necessarily issue a payout for any accident. If the insurance policyholder dies from natural causes or is killed or suffers a serious impairment that is not included, they cannot reclaim the policy premiums paid.

Policyholders should also recognize that AD&D coverage does not increase their total life coverage account value–this type of rider will only provide an insurance payout in exact scenarios and will not influence the accumulative account value of the underlying life insurance product.

Frequently Asked Questions About Insurance and AD&D

Do I Need Both Life Insurance and AD&D?

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance can be purchased to supplement the coverage provided by your life insurance policy. It can also be a standalone type of insurance policy, sometimes used by people who would experience a substantial reduction in income should they become seriously injured.

While the right insurance solutions will always depend on your priorities and objectives, combining both types of coverage may be beneficial. It helps ensure that your loved ones have a defined financial payout should anything happen to you, including a non-fatal covered accident that impairs your financial ability to provide for your family.

What Is the Difference Between Life Insurance and Accidental Death and Dismemberment?

The biggest contrast between these two insurance products is that accidental death coverage means just that–an incident or injury that could not have been anticipated and results in your death may be an insured event. Life insurance may provide a death benefit when the insured party passes away under other circumstances, although serious incidents, such as the loss of a limb or eyesight, may not be insured. 

What Are Examples of Accidental Death?

Insurance products can include caveats or conditions, but many accidental death policies will cover incidents such as a car or motorcycle crash, accidental suffocation, a fall from height, unintentional poisoning, death due to a home fire, medical malpractice complications, industrial accidents, and fatalities linked to firearms, excluding suicide, deaths in combat or deaths resulting from the insured being intoxicated.

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The information above is for educational use only and does not represent insurance, tax or legal advice. It is not a recommendation or solicitation to buy insurance. Please talk to your licensed insurance agent for more information about life insurance and your needs. Please consult with the appropriate professional for tax or legal advice. Guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Article Author: Meredith Bell
Author Bio: Meredith joined Everly in 2022 and has 20+ years of experience in the life insurance industry. She has held various roles in advertising, marketing, communications, sales and distribution support, and product development. Outside of the office, Meredith lives with her daughter Kennedy and their dog Mavis. Meredith enjoys cooking, camping, gardening, hiking, and bourbon (though not always at the same time). She is a live music enthusiast and an avid reader. Her favorite quote is by Thomas Jefferson: "I cannot live without books." Meredith agrees, but would add cheese, movies, and dogs to that list.

Policies are issued by Everly Life Insurance Company (“Everly Life”), Topeka, KS. Everly Life is not licensed in the state of New York and does not solicit or transact business in New York.

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