How do child riders on life insurance work?

A child rider is an optional add-on to your life insurance policy that pays out a small death benefit if any of your children pass away.

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Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

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Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™

Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™

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Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™, is a financial advisor, principal and founder of Elevation Financial, host of the weekly personal finance podcast Wealth Redefined®, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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When you buy life insurance, you can add riders to your policy that customize your coverage in some way. A child rider is an add-on that provides a small death benefit if any of your children dies while your policy is active.

Life insurance is meant to replace lost income when you pass away, and since most children don’t earn money, they don’t need their own policy. But if you would have difficulty paying for a funeral for your child, a child rider is an affordable way to have some financial support for a worst-case scenario.

What is a child rider for life insurance?

There are two options when it comes to life insurance coverage for children: a child rider added to your term life insurance policy or a whole life insurance policy for your child. Child life insurance policies only make sense in rare circumstances due to their high premiums

A child rider is also known as a child term rider or child insurance rider. One child rider covers all of your children and any children you have in the future. It’s significantly less expensive than a child life insurance policy.

Adding a child rider to your term life policy is usually the best way to protect your family in case of the death of a child. You can add a $10,000 child rider to your term policy for as little as $4.20 per month, whereas a child life insurance policy might cost $40 per month or more.

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How do child term riders work?

Most insurers allow adults age 18 to 65 to add child riders to their term policies, though some companies require you to be older than 20 or younger than 55 at the time of application. 

You usually add a child rider when you’re buying your policy. Not every provider will let you add a child rider after your policy is already in force. Companies also have different restrictions around:

  • Maximum death benefit for child riders

  • Maximum age of the children covered

  • Medical information required for the rider

  • When the child rider expires

  • Whether the rider is convertible into child life insurance

Your children do not have to take a medical exam for you to add a child rider, but some insurance companies do ask medical questions about your children. If your child has a pre-existing condition, your rider may not cover them. 

Some insurance companies don’t offer child riders in certain states due to insurance regulations. A Policygenius agent can tell you which riders are available where you live.

Summary

Children with pre-existing conditions may not be covered under a child rider. Every insurance company has its own restrictions for when you can add the rider, coverage amounts, and coverage periods.

How much does a child rider cost?

Child riders cost around $5 per year per $1,000 of coverage you own. The cost is added to your yearly or monthly premium. So if you’d like a child rider with $10,000 of coverage, you would pay an additional $50 a year in premiums.

Does a child rider cover multiple children?

One child rider covers all current and future children in your household, including birth children, adopted children, and stepchildren. Grandchildren aren’t covered under a child rider. 

You can usually buy coverage for children between 15 days and 18 years old. Riders last until your child reaches age 25 or you reach age 65 or age 75, depending on your provider. 

Do other insurance riders apply to child rider coverage?

When you buy life insurance, you have the option to add other riders in addition to a child rider. However, most other riders you purchase only apply to your coverage.

One exception is the waiver of premium rider, which pays your premiums if you become disabled. That waiver covers all of your premiums, including riders. 

Child riders by life insurance company

Here’s how many insurance companies handle child riders on term life insurance policies.

Company

Eligible ages

Coverage amount

Annual cost per $1,000

Asks medical questions?

Add to active policy?

AIG

15 days to 18 years

$500 to $25,000

$5.00

Yes

Yes

Banner Life

15 days to 18 years

$5,000 or $10,000

$5.50

No

No

Lincoln Financial

15 days to 18 years

$1,000 to $15,000

$5.00

Yes

Yes

Mutual of Omaha

15 days to 20 years

$1,000 to $10,000

$7.20

No

No

Pacific Life

15 days to 18 years

$1,000 to $10,000

$5.50

Yes

Yes

Protective

15 days to 18 years

$1,000 to $25,000

$6.00

Yes

Yes

Prudential

15 days to 18 years

$10,000 to $100,000

$5.15

Yes

No

SBLI

15 days to 23 years

$1,000 to $25,000

$6.00

Yes

No

Symetra

15 days to 17 years

$1,000 to $10,000

$4.20

No

No

Transamerica

15 days to 18 years

$1,000 to $99,000

$6.00

Yes

Yes

Methodology: Information based on policies offered by Policygenius as of February 2022.

What happens when a child term rider expires?

Before the child rider expires, you can either convert it into an individual child life insurance policy or let the coverage run out. Your child would then need to apply for their own life insurance coverage as an adult.

Most child riders can be converted into a permanent life insurance policy with up to five times the amount of the original rider’s coverage. If you have $10,000 in coverage on your child rider, you might be able to convert it to a $50,000 whole life policy for your child.

However, permanent policies aren’t right for most people because they are five to 15 times more expensive than term life policies. Unless your child won’t be able to qualify for life insurance in the future, they’ll find a cheaper policy on their own.

We don’t recommend buying separate life insurance policies for children, but child riders are an inexpensive way to get the most out of your life insurance policy. If the cost of a funeral would cause your family financial trouble, consider adding a child rider to your term life insurance coverage.

Frequently asked questions

What is a child rider on a life insurance policy?

A child rider is an inexpensive, optional add-on to your life insurance policy that pays out a small death benefit if any of your children pass away.

Can you take life insurance out on a child?

You can buy whole life insurance for children, but it’s costly and most children don’t need their own policy because they don’t make income for their family.

When can you add a child rider to your life insurance policy?

It depends on your insurance company. Some companies allow you to add (or drop) a child rider after your policy is active, but some don’t.

What does a child rider pay for?

The payout from a child rider can be used for anything, including funeral expenses.

Author

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Expert reviewer

Michael Reynolds, CSRIC®, AIF®, CFT-I™, is a financial advisor, principal and founder of Elevation Financial, host of the weekly personal finance podcast Wealth Redefined®, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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