Accidental Death Coverage

What is accidental death coverage? Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance pay benefits to the beneficiary if the cause of death or injury in an accident. An accidental death benefit may be paid either to you or to your family. In that sense, AD&D coverage is like a limited form of life insurance.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Nov 12, 2020

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When shopping for car insurance, you might encounter terms like “accidental death coverage,” “dismemberment coverage,” and “double indemnity insurance.” Some insurance companies also abbreviate accidental death and dismemberment coverage as AD&D.

These insurance coverage options all work in a similar way: they pay benefits if you die or are seriously injured in a car accident. Any amount you receive is paid out in addition to any other life insurance you may have.

Accidental death may sound rare, but it’s not. In the United States, accidental death is the fifth leading cause of death. For many drivers, it’s in their best interest to include accidental death coverage on their car insurance.

How Does Accidental Death Insurance Work?

Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance pays benefits to the beneficiary if the cause of death or injury is an accident.

If you die or are seriously injured in a car accident, then your AD&D policy may pay benefits. If you are alive, those benefits are paid to you. If you are dead, the benefits are paid to your family.

In that sense, AD&D coverage is like a limited form of life insurance. The coverage is generally less expensive than life insurance. Sometimes, people buy AD&D coverage as a standalone plan. In other cases, they add it to their life insurance policy as a supplement.

Most accidental death policies have to be renewed periodically. The insurance company may adjust your terms with each renewal. Sometimes, you have to approve the renewal manually. With most insurance companies, however, the client’s desire to renew is assumed.

Certain types of accidental death coverage are labeled as double indemnity coverage policies. This refers to the fact that you’re “doubling” coverage by getting both life insurance and accidental death coverage with the same insurer.

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Common Causes of Accidental Death and Dismemberment Claims

Accidental death and dismemberment claims often involve the following situations:

  • Traffic Accidents
  • Exposure
  • Homicide
  • Falls
  • Heavy Equipment Accidents
  • Drowning

Restrictions with Accidental Death Coverage

Most accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies have a list of restrictions. If your situation includes one of these restrictions, then the policy may not be paid out.

Some of the typical restrictions with accidental death coverage include deaths linked to all of the following causes:

  • Illness
  • Suicide
  • Non-commercial Aviation
  • War Injuries
  • Natural Causes
  • Recreational Drug-related Deaths

Situations vary widely. Deaths related to prescription drugs, for example, should be covered by accidental death coverage, but deaths linked to non-prescribed drugs or alcohol are typically exempt.

Because of the restrictions above, making a claim with accidental death coverage can be lengthy and complicated. Sometimes, the insurer requires the deceased to undergo an autopsy to verify the death was accidental.

How Does Accidental Dismemberment Coverage Work?

Accidental dismemberment insurance is typically sold with accidental death coverage. You may qualify for a claim under accidental dismemberment coverage if you lose a bodily appendage or sight because of an accident.

Common claims linked to accidental dismemberment coverage include benefits for losing limbs, fingers, toes, or sight, as well as accidents that caused permanent paralysis.

Policies can vary widely between insurance companies and clients, with each policy carrying different restrictions, payout limits, and terms.

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Final Word

Accidental death and dismemberment coverage functions in a similar way to a limited life insurance policy. In the event of death or serious injury, the beneficiary will receive a payout from the insurance company.

Although AD&D coverage functions in a similar way to life insurance, it’s typically much cheaper, and the payouts are much smaller than a traditional life insurance policy.

Sometimes, accidental death coverage is added under your car insurance policy. In other cases, it’s bundled under your life insurance policy. Many employers also extend AD&D coverage to employees.

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