What Is Double Indemnity? Life Insurance Wrongful Death

Key Takeaway

Double indemnity is a provision added to a life insurance policy, which doubles the death benefit paid to your beneficiary if you die within a specific set of circumstances, normally defined as ‘accidental death’. While a double indemnity clause in your life insurance policy may help support your loved ones if you pass away suddenly, there remain pros and cons and eligibility criteria to be aware of.

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7/6/2024

Double Indemnity: Explained


‘Double indemnity’ is a provision used in life insurance that indicates that the company will issue a death benefit worth double the face value if you pass away due to an accident. These life insurance provisions may also be combined with accidental injury riders that provide a financial benefit if you become seriously injured as defined in the policy and are unable to work.

If you are considering a double indemnity benefit, you should clarify the exact scenarios that will result in a double-value death benefit as these may include specific circumstances outside the norm. Some life insurance applicants may be refused double indemnity coverage if they are more likely to experience an accident, usually because they work in a high-risk setting.

How Does Double Indemnity Life Coverage Work?


Double indemnity is a provision or clause that can be added to a life insurance policy. Policyholders might opt for double indemnity because this provision will double the death benefit paid to their nominated beneficiary if they die suddenly due to an unforeseen covered accident.

In most cases, the value of double indemnity insurance coverage is just that–double the death benefit that would be paid in any other circumstance. Most insurance companies have exacting conditions, excluding claims for fatalities linked to natural causes or medical conditions. Some insurers may also exclude claims where the death occurred due to suicide, negligence, or high-risk activities.

However, double indemnity provisions may include causes of death that could potentially be linked to a wrongful death suit. These might consist of a fatal vehicular accident caused by a third party, homicide, or medical malpractice that results in the death of the insured person.

Wrongful Death Cases and Double Indemnity Life Insurance


It is worth noting that accidental deaths usually included within double indemnity insurance provisions are generally uncommon and account for a small proportion of fatalities. The positive is that adding a double indemnity provision to a life insurance policy is relatively simple, provided the insured person is not considered high-risk, such as an individual employed by the military.

Fatal Accidents That May Activate a Double Indemnity Clause


Each insurance company will define an accidental death that could result in the death benefit being doubled. While these will differ between insurance products and companies, the following scenarios will often mean a double indemnity benefit could be paid:

  • Automotive accidents
  • Accidental falls or drowning
  • Homicide or physical attacks that result in death

Insurance companies may limitations and exclusions; For example, not every vehicular accident may be considered an accidental death. Before making any decisions, it is essential to review the policy terms and conditions.

Common Exclusions to Double Indemnity Life Insurance Riders


Just as circumstances around the death of the insured person might qualify the beneficiary for a double death benefit, there are varied exclusions that may appear in double indemnity life coverage provisions, including:

  • Homicide perpetrated by a policy beneficiary
  • Accidents deemed to be due to negligence on the part of the insured person
  • Fatalities where the insured person was intoxicated
  • Death by suicide and natural causes

If an insurance company denies a claim for a double indemnity payment, the policy beneficiary can contest this. 

The Advantages of Adding Double Indemnity to Your Life Insurance


Double indemnity life insurance clauses may offer additional financial support for your loved ones by providing double the standard death benefit. These insurance benefits might help to sustain your family's living standards if you were to pass away suddenly due to an accident.

If you are considering purchasing a double indemnity clause or adding this to your life coverage as a rider, you should carefully review the life insurance exclusions and conditions. For example, a long-term illness or terminal condition may not qualify as an accidental death and thus a double indemnity benefit would not be paid. 

Possible Drawbacks to Double Indemnity Life Coverage


As with any type of life insurance product, double indemnity may not be suitable for every individual, nor will it provide a double-value payout unless a fatality falls within a defined set of circumstances. Claiming double indemnity can be complex, and the policy beneficiary may be required to submit proof that the fatality was accidental and did not fall within any of the excluded categories.

Documentation is a key aspect of making a successful double indemnity claim. Claimants may need to collect paperwork from emergency responders, local authorities, and witnesses to gather sufficient evidence that a death falls within the scope of a double indemnity rider.

Pros & Cons Table of Double Indemnity

Pros of Double Indemnity

Cons of Double Indemnity

Provides double the death benefit for accidental death

Higher premiums compared to standard policies

Offers additional financial support for beneficiaries

Complex claim process requiring extensive documentation

Can help maintain living standards for loved ones

Numerous exclusions such as death by negligence or suicide

May cover accidental deaths that could be linked to wrongful death suits

May not be available for high-risk individuals

Can be combined with accidental injury riders

Not all accidental deaths qualify (e.g., certain vehicular accidents)

What Is the Benefit of Adding a Double Indemnity Provision to a Life Insurance Policy?


The primary advantage of double indemnity life insurance protection is that if you were to pass away due to a no-fault accident, such as a traffic collision, the insurer may double the death benefit. This life insurance value would remain payable to your named beneficiary.

Frequently Asked Questions: Double Indemnity


What Is the Benefit of Adding a Double Indemnity Provision to a Life Insurance Policy?


The primary advantage of double indemnity life insurance protection is that if you were to pass away due to a no-fault accident, such as a traffic collision, the insurer may double the death benefit. This life insurance value would remain payable to your named beneficiary.

Are There Any Standard Exclusions Within Double Indemnity Life Coverage?


Insurance carriers often include a detailed life of exclusions in their policies, which may include circumstances such as fatal overdoses, suicide, or deaths that occur due to criminal behavior.

How Would My Life Insurance Beneficiaries Claim Double Indemnity?


Depending on the circumstances around the death of the insured person, the life insurance beneficiary would typically need to provide documentation to prove that the death was accidental and unforeseen, including autopsy results and police reports.


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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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