Insurance Riders: What is an Insurance Rider?

Key Takeaway

What is an insurance rider? Simply put, life insurance riders are additional coverage supplements to life insurance policies. These riders are amendments or additions to policies that may offer new insurance features or protection.

Insurance rider documentation

Simply put, life insurance riders are add on coverage supplements to life insurance policies. These riders are amendments or additions to policies that may offer new features or protection and may increase your overall premiums for the insurance policy.

Depending on the policy form, there may be a number of insurance policy riders available, covering everything from accidental death to terminal illness scenarios. These policy riders are intended to tailor your coverage to meet your specific personal needs, which may shift unexpectedly over time.

Insurance Riders: Additional Coverage for Your Personal Policy

Some policyholders have specific needs that aren’t typically covered by your average insurance policy. Riders help fill in those gaps and can further customize your insurance policy so that your personal coverage needs can be met. So, how do insurance policy riders work?

When you want to add an insurance policy rider to your coverage, you typically need to find an appraisal or description of the items you want covered. However, your options, requirements, and coverage details largely depend on your insurance company. You can speak with your insurance agent about these specific details‒such as family income benefit riders, accelerated death benefit riders, and more.

It’s important to keep in mind that by adding riders, you’re most likely going to raise the financial cost of your insurance policy. The good news is that adding a rider can generally be less expensive than taking out an entirely new or additional policy without sacrificing the coverage you need. You may also be able to expand coverage on an item items or an item’s value that may not usually be covered under a standard policy without an insurance rider. If you are curious about how much adding riders will cost, an insurance calculator may help along with talking to a company agent.

What Are the Coverage Benefits to Adding an Insurance Rider?

There can be several benefits to adding an insurance rider to your new or long-standing insurance policy.

Increase in Coverage

Riders can provide a more affordable increase in coverage, making it more cost-effective to tailor your personal policy. Some policy riders can even increase the death benefit, which can help provide a critical safety net for your policy beneficiaries upon your passing.

Greater Flexibility

Riders can also offer you more flexible options with your insurance throughout the different seasons of your life. For example, you may only want an increased amount of coverage during a certain period‒this is where a term insurance rider could be helpful.

Term insurance riders, in particular, can offer greater flexibility because the policyholder can enjoy increased coverage for a certain period of time. After, the term policy rider can expire and the policyholder can typically still enjoy their base insurance coverage.

The Different Types of Riders for Life Insurance

There are several different types of life insurance riders, and many of them are designed to help insurance policyholders cover certain health-related issues or circumstances. Let’s explore just a few of the most popular insurance policy riders:

Waiver of Premium Disability Rider

With a Waiver of Premium Disability rider, you can waive your insurance policy’s premium if you develop a qualifying disability that renders you unable to work. Qualifying conditions for this rider vary from insurance company to insurance company, so make sure you understand the qualifications in your rider before purchasing.

Child and Spouse Riders

These policy riders are designed to pay out a small death benefit if the insured spouse or child passes away during the rider’s term. This coverage amount may be enough to cover end-of-life financial expenses.

Guaranteed Purchase Riders

For traditional insurance policies, you can sometimes add a guaranteed purchase rider to be able to add more personal coverage later on. When the underwriting process might be more expensive based on age or personal health status, this can be a good coverage option for many people.

Accidental Death Rider

This optional rider feature can add an extra payout to your beneficiaries in the event of your death from a covered accident. Sometimes this insurance payout can even double the amount of money your loved ones receive. There is an extra charge for this type of rider, and it may increase your policy premiums. Also, insurance policies/riders generally have accidental death conditions, so make sure you read the policy exclusions before planning your next wingsuit flying adventure.

Terminal Illness Rider

This is an accelerated death benefit rider for traditional insurance policies, allowing you to use your death benefit while alive with certain illnesses. So, if you’re diagnosed with a covered terminal illness, you can take a percentage of your financial death benefit early and use it as you wish. For instance, these insurance funds could give you the freedom to pay for end-of-life care, travel, or get your personal affairs in order. Usually, the terminal illness needs to be diagnosed after the policy/rider is issued for this insurance benefit to become available.

Cost of Living Rider

A Cost of Living rider increases the amount of your insurance coverage to keep up with the cost of living over time. This helps you hedge your bets against inflation and can be a good option for some people. Instead of your family receiving only the original death benefit cited in your policy, a cost of living rider allows your insurance beneficiaries to receive more money, with the inflation rate taken into account, based on the policy and rider terms, conditions, and limitations.

Rider Name



Waiver of Premium Disability Rider


Waives policy premiums if the policyholder becomes disabled, as defined in the rider, and unable to work.

Child and Spouse Riders


Provides a small death benefit if the insured spouse or child passes away during the rider’s term.

Guaranteed Purchase Riders

Coverage Increase

Allows adding more insurance coverage later on without going through the underwriting process again, which might be more expensive based on age or health status.

Accidental Death Rider


Adds an extra payout to beneficiaries in the event of the insured's death from a covered accident, potentially doubling the insurance payout.

Terminal Illness Rider

Health & Illness

Allows the insurance policyholder to access a portion of the death benefit if diagnosed with a covered terminal illness, providing financial flexibility for end-of-life needs.

Cost of Living Rider

Inflation Protection

Increases the insurance coverage amount over time to keep up with inflation, ensuring beneficiaries receive an adjusted payout, subject to policy and rider terms and conditions.

Additional Insurance Rider Costs

Typically, policy riders come at an extra cost. Although they can increase your insurance premiums in some cases, riders can provide expanded coverage or additional benefits. This is why policy riders may be a very helpful option for some people. If you have additional insurance questions, explore our other articles!

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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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