A Life Insurance Policy Rider is aptly named. It is not an integral part of the policy, but it is just along for the ride.
A Life Insurance Policy is often more flexible than people realize. What gives them flexibility is the ability to add just about anything legal and allowed by regulations to them in the form of a rider. A rider is an addition that is made to the policy that refers to a circumstance not covered in the basic policy. The rider will have three basic conditions.
First, it is attached to the regular policy and becomes a part of it. It is therefore subject to the same general conditions of the regular policy. It is not a separate policy. Second, it usually refers to a special circumstance that is not covered in the basic policy. Lastly, it is paid for by an addition to the basic premium.
An example of a common rider is an Accidental death benefit. This has become so common that some policies include it in the basic coverage, but if they do not, it can be added as a rider. An Accidental death benefit might provide for a double death benefit in case of accidental death. The rationale behind this rider is that death that comes as the result of illness and is anticipated is usually less disruptive to a person's dependents from a financial point of view. The deceased person usually had some time to put his affairs in order. Accidental death can be catastrophic since it is not anticipated.
There are many other types of riders common to Life Insurance Policies. Some deal with how the policy might be renewed, or else provide premium insurance for cases of disability or other unforeseen conditions. These insurance within insurance types of riders are quite common. They are generally inexpensive and do not add substantially to the premium, but protect the insured person in any number of situations that can not be controlled.
The best way to equip your Life Insurance Policy with the riders that are best suited to your own situation is to do a little homework before you sit down with your insurance agent. You can make a list of those items or conditions that you are most concerned about and that are a part of your risk management agenda. Then, you can match this list with the provisions of the policy, and discuss possible riders for what is uncovered.