Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance: What does AD&D Insurance cover?

Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance

Welcome to Today’s Post on Accidental death and dismemberment insurance, As the name suggests, accidental death and dismemberment insurance provides coverage for a death due to an accident.

It generally also pays if you lose a limb or a function such as sight, hearing or speech in an accident.

Typically, the beneficiaries you name on your policy will receive a lump-sum payment if you die in an accident. You can receive what are called living benefits if you are injured, and the amount you receive often depends on the type of injury.

What is AD&D insurance?

AD&D insurance combines two types of coverage: accidental death policy that pays out if you die in an accident, and a dismemberment policy that pays out if you have a serious injury such as losing a limb or becoming paralyzed because of an accident.

The beneficiary of your AD&D policy (such as your spouse) collects the money in the case of an accidental death, and you collect it if you suffer one of the injuries outlined in the policy.

Here’s the catch: The death or injury must be the direct result of an accident. So, for example, if you have a heart attack while you’re driving and get into a fatal car crash, your beneficiaries probably won’t receive any money.

While AD&D insurance can offer financial peace of mind to you and your loved ones in the event of an accident, it won’t pay out if you die from natural causes or a terminal illness — so it’s not a replacement for life insurance.
And since it doesn’t cover all injuries or disabilities, it isn’t as comprehensive as disability insurance either.

Be aware that insurers often sell accidental death insurance without dismemberment coverage. These policies pay out only if you die and won’t cover an accident that leaves you seriously injured but alive.

What does AD&D insurance cover?

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance generally covers incidents that can’t be foreseen, such as falls, traffic accidents and homicides.

If you die in an accident, your beneficiaries will most likely get a full payout of the face value of your AD&D policy.

As for injuries, covered dismemberments vary between insurers. They may include:

  • Loss of a limb or finger.
  • Loss of sight, speech or hearing.
  • Paralysis.
  • Injuries caused by work-related machinery.

Payouts are linked to the severity of your injury. If you lose one body part — such as a finger, hand, foot, limb or sight in one eye — insurers typically pay 25% to 50% of the benefit amount.

If you lose two body parts, you’re likely to receive the full payout.

And for paralysis, most insurers offer the full payout for quadriplegia, which affects both arms and legs, and a partial payout of 50% for paraplegia, which affects only the lower half of the body.

Some policies pay additional benefits for injuries or deaths due to accidents while riding a bus, train, plane, ferry or taxi as a fare-paying passenger.

AD&D Insurance

What isn’t covered by AD&D insurance?

AD&D insurance policies typically exclude coverage for accidental injuries or deaths resulting from the following:

  • Drinking and driving.
  • Natural causes.
  • Physical illness, such as COVID-19.
  • High-risk activities, such as skydiving.
  • War.
  • Suicide or attempted suicide.
  • Drug overdose.

With most insurers, a death must occur within three to 12 months after the accident to qualify as a covered event.

When you’re comparing policies, be sure to read the fine print to find out what is and isn’t covered, and the time frame each insurer works with.

How to sign up for AD&D insurance

The most common way to get AD&D insurance is through the workplace. Many employers offer it as part of their benefits package, and they may give you the option to add your spouse or children to the policy.

You can also buy stand-alone policies directly from insurers or through a bank or credit union. In some cases, acceptance is guaranteed, which means you don’t need to take a life insurance medical exam or answer health questions to qualify for coverage.

Some insurers also allow you to add an AD&D rider to your individual life insurance policy for a fee.

With this rider in place, your life insurance beneficiaries will receive an additional lump-sum payout if you die in an accident, and you’ll get the money if you’re injured as the result of a covered accident.

Since this rider typically doubles the payout of your life insurance policy if you die in an accident, it’s also known as a “double indemnity” rider.

Understanding Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance

AD&D insurance contains a schedule that details the terms and percentages of the various benefits and covered special circumstances.

For example, if an insured dies from injuries sustained in an accident, the death must occur within a specified period for benefits to be paid.

Accidental Death

When adding an AD&D rider, also known as a “double indemnity” rider, to a life insurance policy, the designated beneficiaries receive benefits from both in the event the insured dies accidentally.

Benefits typically cannot exceed a certain amount. Most insurers cap the amount payable under these circumstances. As most AD&D insurance payments usually mirror the face value of the original life insurance policy, the beneficiary receives a benefit twice the amount of the life insurance policy’s face value upon the accidental death of the insured.

Typically, accidental death covers exceptional circumstances, such as exposure to the elements, traffic accidents, homicide, falls, drowning, and accidents involving heavy equipment.


Most AD&D policies pay a percentage for the loss of a limb, partial or permanent paralysis, or the loss of use of specific body parts, such as the loss of sight, hearing, or speech. The types and extent of injuries covered are particular to and defined by each insurer and policy.

It is uncommon for a policy to pay 100% of the policy amount for anything less than a combination of the loss of a limb and the loss of a major bodily function, such as sight in at least one eye or hearing in at least one ear.

employer offers AD&D insurance, you might be able to get a basic amount as a free benefit.

How Much Does AD&D Insurance Cost?

Rates for AD&D insurance tend to be lower than rates for traditional life insurance because the coverage is limited to accidents. And if your employer offers AD&D insurance, you might be able to get a basic amount as a free benefit.

In general, AD&D insurance premiums are tied to the amount of coverage you purchase. For example, monthly premiums might start at $4.50 for every $100,000 in accidental death coverage from Farmers.

Rates start at $6 a month for $100,000 of coverage from Fabric and rise to $30 a month for $500,000 of coverage. Because rates can vary from insurer to insurer, it can pay to shop around for the best rate.

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance benefits.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance offers insurance in the case of an accidental death or dismemberment for you, your spouse or domestic partner, and eligible children. You may select coverage levels that range from $25,000 to $500,000.

In addition to benefits payable in the event of accidental death or dismemberment, this plan provides the following components:

  • Zurich Travel Assist – Travel assistant program that provides benefits when you travel at least 100 miles from your home. Additional information on this program, including the Zurich Travel Card, can be accessed in the Forms & Resources section below.
  • CyberScout LifeStages Identity Management Services – Identity theft education and personalized resolution resources. Additional information on this program can be accessed in the Forms & Resources section below.
  • Benefits to care for surviving family members including benefits to pay for daycare expenses, higher education benefits, and retraining benefits.
  • Benefits for covered injuries including home alteration and vehicle modification benefits, hearing aid benefit, and therapeutic counseling benefits.
  • Additional benefits paid in certain situations such as carjacking, coma, and natural disaster benefits.
  • If an accidental death claim is paid due to your death, family coverage continues premium-free for one year after death.
  • Continuation of group policy coverage at retirement.
  • Conversion of coverage to an individual policy at the end of employment.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance plan (Group Policy #GTU 8364005) is administered by University of Wisconsin System Administration and Hausmann-Johnson Insurance and underwritten by Zurich American Insurance Company.

Pros and cons of accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

Some people mistakenly think that having AD&D insurance is a financial safety net if someone dies unexpectedly. “It gives them a false sense of security,” Voegele says. Because AD&D provides limited coverage, it isn’t right for everyone.


# You don’t have to take a medical exam to get AD&D insurance. And you don’t have to answer questions about your health, which can make this type of policy appealing to people with pre-existing conditions that make it difficult to find affordable life insurance.

# You won’t be denied coverage because of your health. You just have to meet the age requirements. Typically, you must be between age 18 and 70 or 80.

# You can get coverage quickly. Because there are no lengthy questionnaires to fill out, no medical exams to take and no waiting period, you can get approved for a policy within a matter of days or even minutes for some policies purchased online.


# Coverage is limited. AD&D will only pay a benefit if your loss is a result of an accident – and there are plenty of ways to die other than an accident. This limited coverage is a big drawback.

# Coverage isn’t as cheap as it seems. An AD&D policy can cost less than life insurance. But that’s because the chance of an AD&D payout is relatively low.

“The odds of you using it are so far down the scale that it becomes expensive for the payout,” Voegele says.

# You might lose your coverage if you leave your job. Most people who have AD&D insurance get it through a group plan at work, Voegele says. Often, you can’t keep that coverage if you leave your job.

Who Should Get AD&D Insurance?

Because it only pays out in the event of an accident, AD&D insurance isn’t ideal for everyone. However, there are some instances when it might make sense.

If it’s a free workplace benefit. “If it’s offered for free, absolutely take it,” Voegele says. “If you have to pay for it, I would recommend that one size does not fit all.” In other words, consider the value you get for a workplace policy you’d have to pay for to determine if the coverage you’d get would be worth the cost.

If you can’t afford life insurance. “Accidents are the top cause of death for younger people,” Kade says. “So if this is all they can afford, it is better than nothing, certainly.”

AD&D Insurance FAQs

How Is AD&D Different From Life Insurance?

Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage only pays a benefit if death results from a covered accident or upon the loss (or loss of use) of a limb.

In contrast, coverage is broader with life insurance. Life insurance policies pay death benefits upon the death of the insured, despite how the death occurred (exceptions apply per policy).

What Does an AD&D Policy Cover?

AD&D policies cover the accidental death of the insured or the loss (or loss of use) of the insured’s limb. Not all accidental deaths are covered, however.

For example, accidental deaths caused by the insured’s felonious act and wartime acts are generally not covered. Each policy provides policy specifications and a list of exclusions.

Does AD&D Cover Heart Attack?

Although unexpected, a heart attack is considered a natural cause of death and is, therefore, excluded from AD&D coverage.

There is one exception to this exclusion. If the heart attack was precipitated by the accident, most AD&D policies will pay the stated benefit.

For example, if an insured, with no underlying heart issues, has a heart attack immediately after a catastrophic car accident and subsequently dies, the policy will pay.

Does AD&D Cover Cancer?

Like a heart attack, cancer is considered a natural cause of death and will not prompt payment from the AD&D policy.

How Much Does AD&D Insurance Cost?

AD&D coverage is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional (term) and whole life insurance. Costs can be as little as a few dollars per month. However, rates vary according to the type of AD&D coverage issued and the insurer.


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