No one likes to contemplate it, but accidents result in over 161,000 deaths per year in the United States. About 58.6 in every 100,000 individuals will die of accidental injury or homicide this year. Unintentional injury is the 5th leading cause of death in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Of these, if past numbers hold constant, about 34,000 people will die in falls over the next year (10.4 per 100,000 persons), 40,327 individuals will die in traffic accidents (12.3 per 100,000) and 58,335 will die as a result of unintentional poisoning (17.8 per 100,000 people). About 62,000 people will die as a result of drug overdoses, or 19.7 per 100,000.
Accidental death and dismemberment insurance, or AD&D, exists to provide families and loved ones with protection against the death or severe injury of a breadwinner or other individual on whom the beneficiaries depend. This affordable form of insurance pays a lump sum in the event of an accidental death or death as a result of homicide (as opposed to illness). In addition, policies may pay an additional benefit as a result events like these:
- Loss of hands and/or feet
- Loss of one hand and one foot
- Loss of speech and/or hearing
- Sight of one eye
- Sight of both eyes
- Loss of thumb and index finger of same hand
- Generally, the more debilitating the injury, the greater the benefit paid. The benefit could be expressed as a percentage of the full amount or as a lump sum.
Accidental death and disability coverage is generally very affordable compared to traditional life insurance. Additionally, since an individual’s health history isn’t much of a factor, it’s usually much easier for an individual with a challenged health history to get than traditional life insurance.
It is frequently offered by workplaces as part of an employment benefit or voluntary benefits package. In the latter case, employees pay the premiums via payroll deduction. Benefits are generally tax-free to the beneficiary, if the insured is paying premiums.
Note: Accidental death policies may be slower to pay out than traditional life insurance policies. This is because the cause of death matters much more in AD&D situations. The insurer will require a ’cause of death’ from the county coroner’s office, in most cases. If this requires an autopsy, it could take some time. Families should generally not rely on AD&D death benefits as an immediate source of liquidity, if possible.
Exclusions for self-inflicted injury are common, and generally natural causes such as illness, non-commercial radiation and war injuries are excluded. Many policies will also exclude death or disability as a result of illegal drug use and even alcohol.
AD&D is a particularly good value for younger workers. You are more likely to die from an accident than from natural causes if you are younger than 45. After that point diseases such as cancer and heart disease become the greater threat. However, it’s something worth considering for anyone in a dangerous occupation.