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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Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

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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.

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Maria Filindras

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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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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.

Key Takeaways

  • The rider lets you increase your life insurance benefit on a recurring basis or due to a life event without taking a new medical exam, up to age 40 or 50.

  • Your premiums increase based on your age and new coverage amount, but not any changes in health.

  • Guaranteed insurability is useful if you have an illness that could worsen and make buying a new life insurance policy costly in the future.

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 went in force 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.

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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. 

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.

The ladder strategy

If your main concern is saving money if you need more life insurance in the future, consider using the ladder strategy. By overlapping multiple term policies with varying coverage lengths and death benefit amounts, you’ll have more coverage when you’re most likely to have debts and dependents and less coverage as you age and your financial obligations decrease.

You can save significantly by buying these policies when you’re young and healthy enough to get lower premiums. Because this technique is complex, speak with a financial advisor and insurance agent to find out if it makes sense for you.

Guaranteed insurability riders for disability insurance

Guaranteed insurability might not make sense for your life insurance policy, but it is worth considering if you need disability insurance to protect your income. Also known as a future increase option or future purchase option, the rider works in the same way as it does in life insurance. However, you’ll need to prove that your income justifies the increase.

It makes sense for most people to add this rider to a disability policy because your income — and therefore your need for a higher disability benefit — is likely to go up as you get older, whereas many people need less life insurance as they age. 

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.

Frequently asked questions

What does a guaranteed insurability rider do?

Guaranteed insurability riders allow you to add more coverage to your life insurance policy without taking a new medical exam.

How often can I buy more coverage with a guaranteed insurability rider?

You can usually use your guaranteed insurability rider every three or five years starting from the first day of your policy or within 30 to 90 days of a life event like a marriage or childbirth.

What is the main advantage of using a guaranteed insurability rider?

Guaranteed insurability means you can get more insurance coverage without seeing a significant premium increase due to changes in your health or lifestyle.