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When buying insurance, whether this includes renters, landlord, auto, homeowners, life, or some other, you might find a need to amend or make some adjustment to your policy.

In that case, you will need to consider requesting your agent make an insurance endorsement or rider which acts as an amendment or addition to an existing insurance contract and changes the terms and/or scope of the original policy.

You might hear endorsements referred to as insurance riders, as the two terms appear interchangeable.  An insurance endorsement can add, delete, exclude or otherwise alter the coverage you carry for that policy.

Further, these insurance endorsements or riders can occur at any point in an insurance policy’s term.

This includes at the time of purchase, mid-term or at policy renewal. These insurance endorsements represent a legally binding amendment to the insurance contract and will show on the insurance declaration page.

This post explores insurance endorsements, their purpose, types, length, where you find them, and how they can be used to adjust your policy.

What is an Insurance Rider or Endorsement?

An insurance rider or endorsement represents a policy add-on, modification, or adjustment which can provide policyholders additional benefits or better coverage suited to their needs.

When you purchase insurance, the availability of insurance riders varies by company and policy, as do the rules for how they work.

Further, the costs represented by each insurance rider can differ due to a number of factors such as age, health, coverage need and type of policy.

These adjustments provide an additional benefit above what comes with a basic policy in exchange for an added fee to the insurer.

Insurance riders do not represent standalone insurance products and must attach to a standard insurance policy offered through your insurer. Insurance riders tailor your policy to the precise needs of your circumstances.

What Types of Insurance Riders Exist?

Two types of insurance endorsements exist and should be understood by you.

  • The insurance endorsement represents the new policy documents you receive after making a change to your policy

Whenever you decide to change your insurance policy, whether for additional coverage needs, a change in circumstances, or any other reason, your insurance endorsement results in a new document.

This new insurance endorsement forms part of your insurance agreement and you should always keep a copy of this for your own records.

In some circumstances, the insurance endorsement may supersede previous versions of your insurance policy, completely replacing it in amount, scope, or intent.

This can occur for a change of address, coverage modification, or other reason. In this case, the insurance endorsement replaces the original insurance policy.

Another such example comes from joint coverage (covering multiple insured parties) now no longer covering the original parties.  Imagine a circumstance where financial infidelity has occurred and the couple opts for a divorce.

Under the original insurance policy, both married persons held coverage over shared assets like a home, autos, and more.

After the dissolution of the marriage, one spouse has signed over ownership of assets carrying insurance coverage to the other, relinquishing a claim to the property.

In so doing, the spouse now in possession of the covered assets in question may request an endorsement to her home and auto insurance policies, thereby removing the name of the ex-spouse.

The policy documents she will receive with the corrections will constitute an insurance endorsement.

This insurance endorsement replaces the previously issued version of the insurance policy and the endorsement represents the revised insurance contract.

  • The insurance endorsement may refer to a clause or rider

When changing coverage held under an insurance policy, the new insurance endorsement supersedes the original insurance contract.

This occurs on account of name changes, adding additional conditions to the contract or additional coverage through an insurance rider, or any other number of reasons for amending the insurance contract.

When only the new terms change in the original policy contract, meaning no language occurs otherwise, this change represents an add-on to the policy. Adding additional coverage to an existing constitutes such a change.

For example, when I bought my wife her engagement ring, I needed to increase the jewelry coverage on my homeowner’s insurance policy. To do so, I requested an endorsement to add a scheduled item: my wife’s engagement ring.

The insurance endorsement described her ring I had certified through a Gemological Institute of America qualified appraiser and added this to my coverage.

The added endorsement did not replace my original policy and only added coverage in the form of an endorsement rider.

As another example, if you have entrepreneurial interests, you may come to learn about business startup costs and marketing mixes. You want to build your personal brand but also want to carry the appropriate amount of insurance coverage.

If you choose to start a home business, you might consider added extra coverage through your existing homeowner’s insurance policy to cover the business.

This change would fall under the insurance endorsement classification and simply add additional coverage without having to request an entirely new policy.

Insurance Policy Rider Examples

Homeowner’s Insurance Riders

    • Scheduled Personal Property Coverage – Provides additional coverage for things you own which are worth more than the per-item limit of your homeowner’s (or condo or landlord or renters insurance) insurance policy. Can also provide protection for assets that may not be covered by your standard policy.

Auto Insurance Riders

  • First Accident Forgiveness – Common among major insurers like Allstate, Liberty Mutual and others, this guarantees that your premiums will not go up in the event of your first, at-fault (or partly-at-fault) accident
  • Rental Car Insurance – The allows for coverage of use of a rental car should you have an inability to operate your car (e.g., accident, repairs, etc.) and allows for per day and maximum coverage caps in most cases

Life Insurance Riders

  • Waiver of Premium Rider – In the unfortunate event you become completely disabled, you will no longer have to pay the premium on your life insurance. Learn more about whether the proceeds from life insurance are taxable.
  • Disability Income Rider – Related to the waiver of premium rider, this allows you to collect a regular income from your life insurance company if you become totally disabled and unable to work. The policy specifies the amount of income received and whether the company pays for a specified time or for length of the disability.
  • Special Purpose Rider – Some online life insurance agencies also offer special riders for add-on products or services unique to their company. In some instances, life insurance agencies offer to bundle other products with their primary term life insurance policy. In the case of Fabric Life Insurance and Haven Life, both companies offer will creation services to be done online.  In the case of Haven Life, it offers this service as part of its Haven Life Plus rider*.

While I currently receive life insurance policy coverage through my employer, my wife does not carry any coverage.

Because we have a clear need for each of us to carry life insurance with our infant son recently entering the picture, it also makes sense for us to consider creating a will.

Due to this advantage from bundling services, we think the best pick for our needs is Haven Life Insurance.

I assign it my top choice for online life insurance companies and recommend you to consider their services by requesting your free quote from Haven Life today.

Limited Term Insurance Rider Example

Language for a rider can vary with respect to coverage modification and term.  An example you may encounter of the latter could read as the following:

“It is understood and agreed that liability will be extended to an additional location at insured address from May 1, 20XX to May 31, 20XX.”

This language specifies the added term insurance rider for coverage at the insured property address on the existing policy.

It contains a specified date range (May 1, 20XX to May 31, 20XX) for the endorsement or agreement to the policy amendment rider.

If the underlying policy expires in July 20XX of the same year, the endorsement will not necessarily be valid for the full term of the contract but rather respects the specified term on the policy.

A commonly used example of this limited term insurance rider comes from a home under renovation, such as a condo or primary residence.

Because the underlying policy would not normally cover this type of risk for the full term, you would need to add this limited term insurance rider by contacting your insurance company with your request.

Depending on the risk profile of the request, the insurance company may grant you a limited term insurance rider through an endorsement on your policy stating specific terms and coverage.

As a converse reaction, they may also choose to limit coverages during the term as well.

*Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus Rider which is included as part of the Haven Term policy. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners).

About the Author

Riley Adams is the Founder and CEO of WealthUp (previously Young and the Invested). He is a licensed CPA who worked at Google as a Senior Financial Analyst overseeing advertising incentive programs for the company’s largest advertising partners and agencies. Previously, he worked as a utility regulatory strategy analyst at Entergy Corporation for six years in New Orleans.

His work has appeared in major publications like Kiplinger, MarketWatch, MSN, TurboTax, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, The Globe and Mail, and CNBC’s Acorns. Riley currently holds areas of expertise in investing, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies and personal finance where he has been cited as an authoritative source in outlets like CNBC, Time, NBC News, APM’s Marketplace, HuffPost, Business Insider, Slate, NerdWallet, Investopedia, The Balance and Fast Company.

Riley holds a Masters of Science in Applied Economics and Demography from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from Centenary College of Louisiana.