What is a guaranteed insurability rider?

The guaranteed insurability rider allows you to increase your life insurance coverage during specified periods without going through underwriting again.

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Andrew HurstSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertAndrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.
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Maria FilindrasMaria FilindrasFinancial AdvisorMaria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Updated|2 min read

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When you buy a life insurance policy, you’ll be able to choose added customizations to your policy, called riders. A guaranteed insurability rider, also called a guaranteed purchase option rider, lets you increase your policy’s death benefit without going through a new medical screening, netting you more affordable pricing.

The rider comes at a low additional cost, but it isn’t offered for every life insurance policy. It’s more commonly added on to whole life insurance. Guaranteed insurability is most useful if you have a medical condition or family health history that could worsen and significantly impact your insurance premiums when you’re older.

Life insurance terms you should know
  • Beneficiaries: The people you name on your life insurance policy to receive the lump sum of money — also known as the death benefit — when you die.

  • Cash value: The portion of a permanent life insurance policy’s monetary value that grows tax-deferred over the life of the policy.

  • Death benefit: The amount of money the life insurance company will pay your beneficiaries when you die.

  • Face amount: The dollar amount, or death benefit, your beneficiaries receive if you die while your life insurance policy is active.

  • Insured: The person who is covered by the insurance policy.

  • Policy: The legal document that includes the terms and conditions of your life insurance contract.

  • Policyholder: The person who owns an insurance policy. Usually, this is the same person as the insured.

  • Permanent life insurance: A type of life insurance that lasts for the rest of your life and usually includes a cash value account.

  • Premium: The amount you pay your insurance company to keep your coverage active. Premiums are typically paid monthly or annually.

  • Riders: Add-ons to a life insurance policy that provide more robust coverage, sometimes for an extra cost.

  • Term life insurance: A life insurance policy that lasts for a set number of years before it expires. If you die before the term is up, your beneficiaries receive a death benefit.

  • Underwriting: The process where an insurance company evaluates the risk of insuring you and determines your final rate.

How guaranteed insurability riders work

Since the guaranteed insurability rider lets you buy additional life insurance based on the information from your original underwriting report, your premiums will go up based on your coverage increase, but not due to any health or lifestyle changes. 

  • Cost of the rider: The extra charge depends on your insurer and policy, but can be as low as an additional $3 to $5 per month.

  • Coverage increase limits: Each time you’re eligible to change your coverage amount, there’s a minimum and maximum. Limits vary by provider but are often $25,000 to $125,000 or double your current death benefit.

  • When you can buy more coverage: Also called option dates, these also vary but usually happen every three or five years from the day your policy became active and within 30 to 90 days of a major life event, such as a marriage.

Every guaranteed insurability rider has a cutoff age, after which you can’t add coverage without taking a medical exam. For many insurers the cutoff is between age 40 and 50.

Learn more about life insurance riders

Who needs a guaranteed insurability rider?

Most people don’t need a guaranteed insurability rider because they need less life insurance as they get older and their health won’t worsen significantly before age 40 to 50. The rider is best used by people who:

In these cases, the rider saves you money if you need more coverage and your health has declined. 

Do riders increase the cost of life insurance?

Alternatives to a guaranteed insurability rider

You can avoid paying for a guaranteed insurability rider with a comprehensive life insurance plan. Your policy should last long enough and have enough coverage to support your dependents and repay your debts.

You can’t anticipate every financial need, but careful planning lowers the chances you’ll need to add coverage in the future.

Ready to shop for life insurance?

A guaranteed insurability rider is a useful customization for life insurance policies, but if neither you nor your dependents have long-term health concerns, you probably don’t need one. Speak to a Policygenius agent to choose the right riders for your policy.

Author

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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