I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Apr 18, 2022

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Do you know what the difference is between AD&D VS Life Insurance?

AD&D stands for accidental death and dismemberment insurance. This specific type of insurance isn’t life insurance but does payout if you die or are dismembered in an accident. When you buy life insurance, you’re protecting your beneficiary’s financial future in the event you die, whether by natural causes, an illness, or as the result of an accident, though there are a few exceptions.

Though there are a few overlaps in coverage, there are major differences between these two types of insurance policies. 

AD&D VS Life Insurance Compared

Let’s compare life insurance vs AD&D coverage to better understand what’s covered and what’s not. Some life insurance companies offer a rider you can add on for AD&D insurance, so we will include that in the comparison as well.

Cause of Death AD&D Insurance Life Insurance Life Insurance with AD&D Rider
Natural causes No Yes Yes
Disease or illness No Yes Yes
Accident (car, plane crash, work-related, etc.) Yes Yes Yes
Murder Yes Yes Yes
Suicide* No Yes Yes
Drug overdose No Yes Yes
Loss of sight, hearing, or limb (not death) Yes No Yes

* Life insurance policies have a suicide clause stating that suicide is not covered within the first two years of the policy date.

RELATED: Check Sample Life Insurance Rates by Age (No Personal Info Required)

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between the policyholder and the insurance company that pays out a set amount to your beneficiary if the policyholder dies. The premium is paid monthly, quarterly, or annually to keep the coverage in place. 

When the policyholder dies, the beneficiary (you can have more than one) is paid the death benefit amount. There are a few types of life insurance options you can choose from:

  • Term life insurance: Coverage is in place for a set number of years and expires after that unless the policy is renewable.
  • Whole life insurance: Permanent coverage with level premiums for as long as the policy stays in force. Offers cash value which can be borrowed against the death benefit amount.
  • Universal life insurance: Works like whole life but has the option for flexible payments and death benefit amounts. Some policies offer dividends and investment options.

Term is the most affordable option and easiest to understand, and is the most purchased type of life insurance.

What is AD&D insurance?

AD&D insurance provides coverage only if you die or are dismembered in an accident. Natural causes, illness, suicide, and overdoses are not covered under AD&D insurance.

Unlike with life insurance, you don’t have to die to get benefits paid under AD&D insurance. If you lose a limb, finger, or toe, or become blind, or lose your hearing, you can get some benefit from the AD&D policy. Each policy has percentages paid out, with higher amounts for losing eyesight in both eyes or hearing loss in both ears vs just one.

AD&D can be purchased as a stand-alone policy or added as a rider to a life insurance policy.

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How Do I decide between Life Insurance vs AD&D Insurance? 

These questions are the ones we are most frequently asked about when choosing between life insurance vs AD&D.

Do I need both life insurance and AD&D? You might, and the good news is, you can get both if you want them.

Does AD&D pay in addition to life insurance? Yes, it does. If you have an AD&D rider or a stand-alone policy in addition to a life insurance policy, make sure your family and beneficiaries know so they can get what they are eligible for.

Can you claim both life insurance and AD&D? If the cause of death is an accident, then yes, you can claim on both policy types. If the cause of death is something other than an accident, then you can only claim under the life insurance policy.

RELATED: 5 Critical Tips You Must Know Before Buying Life Insurance

 AD&D VS Life Insurance Alternatives

If you don’t want a separate policy, you may be able to add a rider for AD&D to your life insurance policy. If you need to purchase life insurance, ask if the rider is an option before you buy. Most often, riders will be cheaper than individual policies with the same payout percentages.

An alternative would be purchasing voluntary benefits or supplemental policies. Companies offer coverage for specified health conditions, including:

  • Accident
  • Illness
  • Cancer
  • Hospitalization
  • Critical illness

Supplemental life insurance vs AD&D

Some employers offer supplemental benefits, which can include life insurance. These policies may not require a medical exam and are given group rates based on age. For people with health issues, supplemental life insurance may be more affordable than individual life insurance.

This coverage can be purchased in addition to or in place of AD&D insurance and other life insurance you already have. Some policies offer riders for AD&D.

AD&D vs Term Life Insurance

AD&D insurance may be a more affordable option than term life insurance, but it’s very limited on what conditions it pays. Term life insurance offers much better financial protection and you may even be able to include a rider for AD&D.

Final Thoughts On Life Insurance vs AD&D 

According to the CDC, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death, with accidents being the third leading cause. All of the top 10 causes of death are illness-related except for accidental death. Consider these statistics when deciding between AD&D vs life insurance coverage. If you can afford it, adding a rider or purchasing both policies may be the best choice for broad protection in the event of your death, regardless of the cause.