What is Voluntary AD&D (Accidental Death & Dismemberment)?

This article covers what a voluntary AD&D policy is, how it’s different from traditional accidental death insurance, subtypes of policies, differences vs workers comp, pros & cons, and, finally, whether or not it’s a good idea. 

For a comprehensive article on traditional accidental death and dismemberment insurance, click here.

Okay, let’s go. 

Quick Summary

Employers offer voluntary accidental death and dismemberment benefits as something you can purchase for reduced group rates. It only pays out if the death is the result of a covered accident, so read the fine print in the contract.

It’s a type of policy typically reserved in the private market for supplementing life insurance or a replacement for life insurance when someone cannot otherwise qualify. Voluntary accidental death typically falls under the employee benefit program, but since it’s voluntary you’ll almost always pay for it through a paycheck deduction.

You can use the instant quotes tool on this page to compare rates for a portable policy versus what your employer is offering.

What is Voluntary AD&D?

Voluntary is the human resources word for extra benefits you can buy through your employer. It’s typically reserved for eligible employees, which means at least 90 days of continuous employment for most employers.

what is voluntary accidental death and dismemberment insurance?

These benefits are typically things like life insurance or disability insurance that don’t come with the benefits package you have. However, you can typically get cheaper rates with voluntary insurance because your employer is purchasing it as a block instead of you going to an agent as an individual. Even insurance companies like selling in bulk. 

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance pays benefits when the insured passes away as the result of an accident, whether on or off the job. The benefit pays out in a lump sum to the surviving spouse or other designated beneficiary. Accidents cause the most deaths for people aged 25 to 44. It’s one of the lowest-cost forms of insurance that offer a death benefit. 

The dismemberment portion means that the insurance company will pay you a portion of the benefits for things like loss of a hand, foot, sight, or hearing.

Types of Voluntary Accidental Death and Dismemberment

Employers offer AD&D in a few different ways. It’s worth the time to read through the whole contract and not just the brochure that your HR person might give you. The details matter. 

Standalone AD&D

A standalone policy is simple, straightforward accidental death insurance. Sometimes it comes with the dismemberment portion as well. It doesn’t have any other features attached to it, like a disability or life insurance policy. 

Life Insurance Supplement

Many life insurance policies will offer what they call an AD&D rider. A rider adds extra benefits to an insurance policy. It’s an option that lets you customize your coverage. 

In this case, your employer might offer a voluntary life insurance policy and you choose to add the rider of accidental death insurance. 

Because they are joined together, if you cancel the life insurance policy or leave the job and it’s not portable, you will also lose your accidental death policy. 

Travel and Business Travel Accident Insurance

It’s like travel insurance, except the AD&D form. It pays a benefit if you’re traveling for work and pass away. 

Dependent AD&D

This type allows you to get a spouse or child AD&D coverage. It can be helpful if the spouse may be unable to otherwise qualify for their own policy or even serve as a placeholder burial insurance for young couples. 

While it’s something that you can also purchase for your children, a child’s life insurance policy will serve them better long-term and provide some living benefits if set up correctly. 

Some Companies Have Extra Perks

There are a few companies that really go the extra mile with customization options. Depending on the company, these benefits most likely cost extra. 

You can choose options like extra benefits if you are in a coma or if you are hospitalized for a certain number of days. Some riders combat inflation. Other riders will cover the cost of daycare while you’re in the hospital. There are dozens of extra tiny things that vary widely between insurance companies, but you get the idea. 

These extra perks show you why it’s worth the 20 minutes to read through the contract and not just look at the information pages. Knowing exactly when and how much these extra benefits might pay will prevent you from having a horrible headache later on if something unfortunate happens. 

Here’s an example of one company’s voluntary AD&D policy.


Typically, insurance you buy through your employer is not portable. So if you leave your job, you don’t get to take your insurance with you. Remember, it’s common for people to change jobs every three years nowadays. 

It’s not just the issue of moving to your new employer and hoping they have a good insurance policy. It’s also that you will pay more because you will be older. Insurance costs more as you age. 

How is AD&D Different From Workers Compensation?


Workers comp only covers workplace accidents. And you have to strongly tie any accident to the workplace. 

Accidental death insurance covers all accidents, no matter when or where. 

Pros and Cons of Voluntary AD&D

pros and cons on accidental death insurance through your job

Signing up for voluntary insurance through the workplace often provides lower rates than an individual policy, but not always. Employers are typically able to get group rates for voluntary programs – like purchasing bulk goods at the grocery store. 

It also makes remembering to pay premiums easy since they can often be pulled right out of your paycheck. 

There’s also less shopping time because it’s typically only one policy, perhaps with a handful of riders. You won’t need to find an insurance agent you trust, then compare several policies to see which one has the best rates. You sign a few forms with HR and you’re finished. 

On the other hand, you only have one policy option. There may be a better one out there. 

But what happens if you leave your job? The lack of portability creates one of the biggest drawbacks to any type of voluntary insurance through your job – accidental death or otherwise. 

For younger age groups, it also may be similar in premiums to life insurance. In which case, life insurance provides significantly more coverage and is the better choice. 

Read this article comparing accidental death and life insurance for a more in-depth analysis.

Should You Buy It?

A definitive yes or no here isn’t for everyone. 

However, the portability issue causes large problems. If you are healthy enough, and it fits in your budget a basic life insurance policy will cover everything that accidental death does and so much more. It’s the best option for most people.

If an individual policy doesn’t fit in your budget, voluntary life insurance coverage through your company will cover more causes of death than accidental death insurance, particularly above age 45. You’ll run into a portability issue, but it’s preferable to no coverage at all. 

Accidental death insurance provides options when someone cannot qualify for life insurance because of prior medical conditions, hobbies, or occupation. 


A voluntary AD&D policy offers a lump-sum payment – the benefit amount is usually set by your employer based on pay scale – in the event that the covered person passes away from an event of a covered accident. It does not pay out for death from natural causes. However, most AD&D policies have a dismemberment clause for a partial benefit. Partial benefits are triggered by the loss of sight, loss of hearing, loss of one or both arms, or legs.

It’s part of a benefit enrollment program, but because it’s through your employer, you cannot keep the coverage if you leave your employer. In most cases, traditional life insurance is the better long-term decision.

How Abrams Insurance Solutions Can Help

If you’re struggling to understand the contract details on your employer’s voluntary accidental death and dismemberment policy, give us a call at (858) 703-6178. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you find the best coverage for the lowest possible rates – even if it’s not through us. 

You can compare the cost between a voluntary policy and an individual policy by using the accidental death quote form on this page.