Accelerated Benefit Riders: How They Work

Life insurance policies that include accelerated delivery Riders offer several types of coverage to policyholders during their lifetime. They pay benefits in addition to traditional benefits death benefit and cash value to policyholders who have a chronic illness, critical illness, or need long-term care if certain conditions are met.

If you’re considering accelerated benefit riders, here’s what you need to know.

Key points to remember

  • Accelerated benefit riders pay death benefits to life insurance policyholders during their lifetime.
  • Benefits are paid to insured persons suffering from a chronic illness, a terminal illness or requiring long-term care and fulfilling certain conditions.
  • Some endorsements can be purchased as an add-on, while others are included directly in a policy.

How Accelerated Benefits Riders Work

Also called living benefits Where accelerated death benefits, accelerated benefit riders allow policyholders to access death benefits from their life insurance policy during their lifetime, under certain conditions. Policyholders receive benefits to cover the costs of chronic illness, critical illness or long-term care, but they are still entitled to any remaining cash value and death benefit in politics. The payout ranges from 25% to 100% of the death benefit.

In some cases, insureds have a choice of how benefits are paid⁠—they can receive either a lump sum or periodic payments, depending on the type of claim and benefit. A policy may also limit the total amount of benefits paid or require a minimum payment.

Some endorsements can only be purchased at an additional cost, while others are incorporated directly into the policy. Although the first type of endorsement will cost the policyholder an initial additional fee in the form of period fees, this type of benefit will pay the full amount stated in the policy.

“No-cost” riders are simply riders that are paid at the time of claim, where the insurance company will discount the dollar amount of benefits that are paid to the policy owner based on a formula that takes into account the rates of interest and mortality, as well as the cash value amount of the policy.

Like many other types of insurance, accelerated benefits can be paid either as reimbursements or on a indemnity basis, with the benefit going directly to care providers or other parties requiring payment.

Accelerated Benefit Extensions

Some policies also offer an Extended Benefits Rider which typically doubles the amount of accelerated coverage at an additional cost, but without the purchase of an additional death benefit. This rider effectively allows cost-conscious consumers to purchase a smaller amount of death benefit while maintaining adequate living benefit protection. Riders known as “linked benefits” may also provide coverage for long term care (LTC) expenses equal to at least two to three times the face amount of the policy.

Types of Accelerated Benefits Riders

Here is a more detailed look at the critical illness, chronic illness and long-term care riders:

Critical illness riders

Critical illness riders pay a large portion of the death benefit to policyholders when they are diagnosed with a critical illness or sustain significant injuries. This benefit is usually received as a lump sum payment.

Chronic illness riders

These riders pay a periodic benefit if the policyholder becomes incapacitated or disabled for an extended period. This type of rider typically triggers when the insured becomes unable to perform at least two of six activities of daily living, including eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, transferring, and continence.

Long Term Care Riders

Long Term Care Riders usually require separate complete information subscription for the insured, but provide more comprehensive coverage for long-term or nursing home expenses than chronic illness benefits. But it comes at a higher cost.

The benefits paid by accelerated benefit riders during your lifetime mean that your beneficiaries will receive less when you die. Treat these endorsements as an advance payment.

Coverage of chronic care versus long-term care

It is understandable that consumers are confused by the distinction between chronic health benefits and long-term care, as the two seem to belong essentially to the same category. The life insurance industry, however, requires that these two types of benefits remain separate.

Chronic illness riders are inherently more restrictive than long-term care riders, and one of the key differences between the two is that to qualify for the former, the insured must be permanently incapacitated. Chronic condition riders can also pay out in a lump sum or on an annual basis, while long-term care riders usually have a monthly payment. The cost of processing and managing chronic disease claims is also generally less expensive than for long-term care riders, which means the cost of chronic disease benefits is lower for consumers.

What to Consider Before Buying Accelerated Benefits

Although living benefits can be a valuable supplement with any life insurance policy, consumers should consider several key factors before purchasing. Some of the issues policyholders face include:

Impact on succession

If accelerated benefits are paid, the policy death benefit will be reduced for beneficiaries. Does the owner of the font real estate project remain intact?

Separate coverage required

Accelerated benefit riders do not completely replace separate policies that are specifically designed to cover certain perils, such as a disability or health insurance.

Medicaid Eligibility

Accelerated benefit payments may affect Medical help eligibility. Earnings paid by accelerated runners are often considered earnings for Medicaid, although applicants are not required by law to exhaust these benefits before they can be considered eligible.


In most cases, benefits are not subject to federal taxes if a terminally or chronically ill person meets certain requirements. Under the federal tax code, for example, a terminally ill person is defined as having only 24 months to live.

Accelerated Benefit Riders vs. Viatical Payments

Do not confuse accelerated benefit riders with travel regulations. Accelerated benefit riders are essentially the modern equivalent of viaticum payments that terminally ill insureds use to raise funds to pay their medical bills. Under these agreements, insureds sell their policies to a third-party settlement company for a percentage of the face amount of the policy. The policyholder names the settlement company as the beneficiary of the policy, and the company collects the death benefit after the policyholder dies.

Also called colonies of lifeViatical settlements generally earn the seller more than the cash value of the policy, but less than its death benefit.

The essential

According to Jason Kestler, president and CEO of Kestler Financial Group, headquartered in Leesburg, Va., accelerated benefit riders have effectively provided consumers with a greater level of control over their insurance protection. “Customers are now able to start or stop an income stream from their policies when they have a qualifying need, and many endorsements now also provide a cost of living adjustment to keep up with inflation.

Market demographics, improving financial education, and rising healthcare cost and need have made multiline protection in one policy more attractive. But those who need specific types of protection from these unique vehicles should read the fine print and do their homework to understand if they’ll get what they’re really looking for and how much they’ll pay for it.

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