What is a waiver of premium rider?

If you become disabled and can’t pay your life insurance premiums, a waiver of premium rider keeps your policy active.

Headshot of Policygenius editor Nupur GambhirAmanda Shih author photo

By

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

&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.

Expert reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

Learn more about oureditorial review process.

By

Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

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

Updated|3 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Adding riders to your life insurance policy allows you to customize your coverage and strengthen the financial safety net your policy provides to your family. A waiver of premium rider protects your policy from lapsing if you become disabled and can no longer pay your policy’s premiums.

With a waiver of premium rider, you won’t need to make your premium payments—they are waived for the duration of your disability. However, the rider is often difficult to qualify for and offers less financial support than a disability policy. Most people should buy disability insurance to protect their income instead of a waiver of premium rider.

Key takeaways

  • Riders offer additional coverage to enhance your life insurance policy

  • A waiver of premium rider pays for your policy premiums if you become disabled

  • You need to meet disability qualifications set by your insurer to be able to use the rider

  • A standalone disability insurance policy is a better option than a waiver of premium rider

How does a waiver of premium rider work?

The waiver of premium rider allows you to forgo premium payments if you become disabled and cannot work for six months or more. The waiver doesn't cover disabilities caused by pre-existing conditions.

To use the rider, you submit a disability claim to your insurer. You must pay your premiums during the waiting period, the time between your injury and when your rider benefits begin. Most providers have a waiting period of six months, but you should check with your life insurance company to confirm. If you qualify for the waiver, you are refunded any premiums you paid during that period. 

Your premiums are covered as long as you’re disabled. Once the disability ends and you can work again, you resume making payments.

While most life insurance companies offer waiver of premium riders for disabilities, some also offer the rider for unemployment. Similar to a waiver of premium rider for a disability, a waiver of premium for unemployment prevents your policy from lapsing if you are out of work.

How much does a waiver of premium rider cost?

The waiver of premium rider is a flat fee that is added on to your premium payments and remains the same throughout your policy. Based on Policygenius data, the rider costs an extra $10-50 per month. 

But, just like premium payments, the amount you pay for the rider is determined by your insurer, age, and health classification. The cost is calculated alongside your policy premiums when you go through the underwriting process.

How do you qualify for a waiver of premium rider?

Qualifying for a waiver of premium rider is usually difficult. Your disability must fall within the insurance company’s definition of disability and you must be under the waiver’s maximum age limit.

Meeting the definition of disability usually requires you to have a total disability. For most providers, that means you’re under the regular care of a licensed physician for your injury or illness and: 

  • Able to work but have lost sight in both eyes or have lost two limbs, or

  • Unable to perform any duties of your current occupation (for an initial period)

  • Unable to perform the duties of any occupation for which you’re reasonably qualified (after the early years of your disability)

Each insurer sets their own rules about how to qualify and which injuries the rider won’t cover, so check with your provider for specifics.

Age limits on waiver of premium riders

Some insurers have age limits on who can use the waiver of premium rider, while others are more flexible. Companies that have age limits usually cap the rider at 65-years-old.

Some applicants may not be eligible to add on a waiver of premium rider to their policy due to age.

Ready to shop for life insurance?

Start calculator

Is a waiver of premium rider worth it?

One in four people become disabled throughout their careers, so buying additional disability coverage is an important precaution. But, most people are better off buying a standalone disability insurance policy instead of adding a waiver of premium rider to a life insurance policy. 

A long-term disability insurance policy can pay monthly benefits equal to approximately 60% of your income. Those benefits will help you cover all of your bills and expenses, not just your life insurance premiums. In comparison, it can be difficult to qualify for a waiver of premium rider, and it offers no income protection.

Speaking to an independent insurance agent or certified financial planner is the best way to determine which insurance plans and riders are best for your family’s financial needs.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a waiver of premium rider?

Most people should purchase a standalone disability insurance policy instead. A waiver of premium rider protects your policy from lapsing if you can no longer pay the premiums, but it is also costly and difficult to qualify for.

What is the waiting period for a waiver of premium rider?

Most insurers require that you are disabled and cannot work for six months before you can use the waiver of premium rider.

What is the advantage of a waiver of premium provision in a life policy?

Adding a waiver of premium rider to your life insurance policy protects your life insurance policy from lapsing and protects your beneficiaries' financial health.