How Does Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) Work?

Making sure that your loved ones are protected financially in case of the unexpected can be essential to their well-being – and it can essentially make the difference between those who you care about being able to go on with their current lifestyle, or struggle to make ends meet in the future.

Having a life insurance policy in place can be one way of ensuring that your survivors will obtain the financial protection needed. But there are also ways to allow for additional funds – which can be necessary in the case of an accident.

This is by obtaining an AD&D policy.

Maybe you’re concerned because you may not qualify for insurance due to certain health conditions.

Please keep in mind that there are companies who offer life insurance with no medical exam, which means that no matter what you are still able to get some life insurance protection.

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Or perhaps you need a final expense policy to cover your funeral and other final expenses. If so, we can help.

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What is Accidental Death Life Insurance?

Unfortunately, accidents can – and often do – happen.

And, in the case of a serious accident that can cause death or permanent disability, it can be difficult to cope financially.

This is where the proceeds that are paid out from an accidental death life insurance plan can be extremely helpful.

AD&D coverage provides payment to a named beneficiary – over and above that which is paid from a regular life insurance policy – in case of an insured’s death due to a covered accident.

In some cases, this type of coverage can be purchased as a rider that is connected to a life insurance policy already in place (or, conversely, the rider can be purchased at the same time that the regular life insurance policy is obtained).

This accidental death benefit, however, is only paid if the insured dies due to an accident, as versus from natural causes.

This type of coverage – also referred to as accidental death and dismemberment, or AD&D – will often payout if the insured’s death occurs within 90 days of the covered accident.

However, there are some AD&D plans that will extend for up to one year following the initial accident.

Accidental death life insurance is also often referred to as a “double indemnity” plan.

This is because it will “add-on” benefits to an existing life insurance policy, allowing the beneficiary to receive an additional amount of proceeds, which can sometimes even double the amount of the original life insurance policy.

Likewise, there are some accidental death and dismemberment policies that will pay out double the face amount stated in the policy for injury or death that is due to accidents while riding as a fare-paying passenger on an airplane, bus, train, taxi, or ferry.

Hard hat on chalk outline of bodyAlso, there are some accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies that will add an additional amount of benefit – or will offer them as an optional extra – for things such as bereavement counseling for the insured’s loved ones following an accidental death, and / or for payment to a surviving spouse in order to use for educational training for new employment.

There is any number of accident types that are typically covered by an accidental death life insurance plan.

For instance, these may encompass traffic accidents, falls, heavy equipment accidents, exposure, and/or drowning.

While accidental death life insurance coverage will pay out a benefit based on the accidental death of an insured, there are some exclusions that are typically written into most AD&D plans.

These include death due to the following:

  • Acts of war
  • Suicide
  • Natural Causes
  • Non-commercial radiation
  • Illness
  • Taking illegal drugs
  • Death during surgery
  • Death due to a mental illness
  • Bacterial infection
  • A hernia
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Loss due to an accidentally sustained external wound
  • Illegal activities (such as a robbery that is committed by the insured)
  • Hazardous hobbies that the insured engages in (such as skydiving, scuba diving, etc.)

The exclusions will often depend on the insurer that is offering the AD&D coverage.

With that in mind, it is important to understand exactly what is – and what is not – covered in this type of insurance policy.

In addition, the death of the insured must also occur within a certain amount of time following the accident that he or she was involved in.

Because there can be some amount of “fine print” in an AD&D policy in terms of whether or not the insured’s death will be covered, obtaining the benefits from an accidental death plan can be somewhat of a lengthy process.

For example, in some cases, the accident that the insured was involved in may need to be investigated further.

And, it may also be necessary for the insured / decedent to undergo an autopsy before the insurance company making its decision regarding payout.

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For this reason, it is important to be sure and read over the entire policy prior to moving forward with the purchase – as this can often help to avoid any surprises in the future with regard to the coverage.

An AD&D policy may also pay out benefits – in some cases, the entire amount and in others a percentage of the total stated amount – if the insured incurs an accident that leaves him or her with certain types of disability.

Here, if the covered insured loses a limb (or more than one limb), and/or their eyesight, then benefits can also be paid that can help the individual and his or her loved ones with paying medical expenses and/or other obligations.

In this case, the dismemberment coverage typically pays out based on a “per member” basis.

For instance, if the insured loses one member – such as a foot, hand, limb, sight in one eye, and/or their hearing or speech – the insurance carrier will pay out 50 percent of the stated benefit.

If, however, two members are lost – such as both legs or sight in both of the eyes – then the entire amount of the stated AD&D benefit will be paid out.

Types of Accidental Death Insurance Coverage

There are several different types of accidental death insurance coverage. These include the following:


Accidental death and dismemberment coverage is often offered to the members of a group as a separate, elective employee benefit.

In this case, the premiums that are paid for the coverage will usually be directly deducted from the insured employee’s paycheck on a regular basis.

Travel Accident

Travel accident/business trip accidental death and dismemberment coverage is also usually offered via an employee benefit plan.

This coverage will provide financial protection to employees when they are traveling on company business.

Under this coverage, the premium is usually paid in full by the employer.


In some cases, an accidental death and dismemberment policy will also provide coverage for an employee’s dependents.

Supplement to Group Life Insurance

Oftentimes, an accidental death and dismemberment plan is automatically offered as a part of a group insurance/employee benefits plan.

In this case, the total benefits from the AD&D coverage that would be paid out will equal the individual’s group life insurance benefits.

Therefore, in this type of plan, the life insurance benefit payout would essentially be doubled if the insured dies as the result of a covered accident.

There are some cases where accidental death coverage may be purchased through credit card offers, with the policy being underwritten by the major credit card issuers or an insurance carrier.

Likewise, there are some credit unions that may also offer accidental death and dismemberment coverage – usually for a low-cost premium.

Should AD&D Coverage Be Included with Senior Life Insurance Protection?

While those who are seniors seeking life insurance, may wish to consider accidental death coverage, in many cases, this protection will cease when the insured individual reaches the age of 70.

Today, however, because people are living much longer than ever before, it is possible that someone who is over the age of 50 will still be active and working – and in turn, exposed to various dangers.

Because of that, seniors may want to consider adding this coverage to an existing life insurance policy or even purchasing AD&D as a stand-alone plan.

Who is a Good Candidate for AD&D Coverage?

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidents are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States – just behind causes such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.

With that in mind, having an accidental death life insurance policy can be important – particularly if an individual has a higher chance of being the victim of an accident.

Therefore, there are many potential candidates who might want to consider accidental death life insurance coverage.

For example, those who work in potentially dangerous or hazardous environments may have an increased risk of being involved in an accident.

Therefore, this coverage could provide families or other loved ones with a benefit just in case.

How Much Does AD&D Coverage Cost?

There are several factors that can determine the amount of the premium on an accidental death and dismemberment plan.

For example, if the coverage is offered as part of an employee benefits package, it is possible that the employer will pay for some, or even all, of the premium cost.

In many cases, accidental death coverage can be fairly inexpensive – whether it is obtained as a part of an employee benefits package or as an individual policy that is purchased directly by a consumer.

In the latter case, the premium price is often dependent upon the applicant’s age and gender, as well as how much life insurance you purchase, and the risk factors that are associated with an applicant’s work environment.

(As an example, someone who works in an office setting will often pay less for AD&D coverage than someone who works with heavy construction equipment – with all other factors being equal).

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Where to Get the Best Premium Rates on an Accidental Death Life Insurance Plan

Just as with any other type of insurance product that you may purchase, the premium cost of an accidental death life insurance policy may differ – sometimes even substantially – depending on where the policy is obtained.

Therefore, if you are seeking an individual AD&D plan, it can be important to shop and compare policies and premiums from several different life insurance companies.

Doing so through an independent life insurance brokerage or agency will often yield you the best premium price, as you will be able to compare policies and premiums all in one convenient place, and in an unbiased manner.

If you are in the process of shopping for accidental death coverage, let us assist your search.

Our portfolio of carriers is large and our goals include- providing simple but detailed information, numerous quotes, and sage advice.

All aimed at finding you a policy with a company you can trust.

If you are still trying to understand how the accidental death and dismemberment policies or riders can be beneficial to you we’d be happy to assist any way we can.

Our advisors can be reached at 888-430-7668.

We understand that the purchase of any insurance product can be somewhat confusing.

There are lots of variables to understand – and you want to be sure that you are obtaining the proper type and amount of coverage for your particular anticipated needs.

But the good news is that the process can be many times easier with an ally and expert on your side.

So, contact us today – we’re here to help.


Susan Wright, CLU, ChFC, RHU, REBC, ADPA, CITRMS, CIPA has been in the insurance and financial field for over 27 years. Even with years of experience, she continues to create new resources for others. Everything from books to training material.

Susan received her MBA from St. Louis University and her BA from Michigan State University.

She has worked in several areas but excels in writing material for both finances and insurance. Her goal is to give professionals credibility and assist in streamlining the sales process.

She has written countless articles for a variety of websites.

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