Published by Trustmark Voluntary Benefits on September 23rd, 2020

With 2020 open enrollment around the corner, now is a great time to answer a question that many employees have probably asked themselves: what is a rider? If you’ve enrolled in benefits before, you might have seen the term “rider” but may have chalked it up to insurance jargon without understanding what it means or how they work. So let’s take a look at the definition and a few common types of riders so you can be better informed going into enrollment season.

A rider is an additional, and sometimes optional, benefit that you can tack on to your current insurance policy for more customized coverage. Think of your insurance policy as an ice cream cone, comprising the base coverage you need. Riders are the extras: sprinkles, nuts, and whipped cream that make it customizable to you. You may also sometimes see riders referred to simply as benefits, but, if it’s a “benefit” that you get to elect or is added on to your base coverage, the same concept applies. Adding riders are a great way to get a little extra coverage where you need it without paying for features that you don’t.

Let’s use critical illness insurance as an example. While riders vary based on your voluntary benefits provider, the coverage elected by your insurance and the policy, many critical illness products have riders that allow employees to customize their coverage. Some may offer extra protection for routine wellness visits or certain types of tests and screenings. Critical illness policies typically specify which illnesses and health events they cover, but with the right rider you may be able to receive coverage for an illness that wasn’t originally listed in the base coverage.

In the world of voluntary benefits, it’s important to note that the riders available to you are chosen by your employer. So, always make sure to reference the information specific to your plan design to know what’s available. Also, your employer may choose to include riders in your coverage, so sometimes, features that you would otherwise have to sign up for are already included without you having to select them.

That may have been a lot of information, so let’s recap:
  • Riders are optional features that you add to your insurance coverage
  • Depending on availability, you can choose which riders you want to add to your base coverage
  • Your employer will select which riders are available to you and may include riders in your base coverage, so you don’t have to worry about signing up
  • Use these riders to personalize your coverage to your needs
When you’re preparing for open enrollment, be sure to research your benefit options and note which riders interest you. If possible, speak with a benefits representative to help fully explain how each rider works. Taking these steps will help you better understand your coverage and select the best voluntary benefits for you and your family.