What is 'Accidental Means'

Accidental means is a condition for losses covered under an insurance policy that requires the loss to have been the result of an accident, rather than the result of a non-accident. As a condition, accidental means is designed to protect insurers from having to pay claims on events that were not accidents.

BREAKING DOWN 'Accidental Means'

Insurers use the word “accident” to describe an event that happens unintentionally, and which is unexpected or unforeseen. Accidental means may involve acts that caused damage or harm, but which were themselves accidental. Both the injury and the event have to be considered accidents in order for a claim to be covered. Accidental means is a precise definition of “accident”, and is stricter than merely defining an accident as an unforeseen event.

Insurance policies for bodily harm or death often include a provision that requires the death or injury to be caused by external, violent, and accidental means. Accidental means takes into account both the cause and effect of the event, rather than just the result of the event.  

For example, a construction worker with an accidental death and dismemberment policy who is injured would have to (1) not know that the risk of an activity would result in a loss, and (2) not know that any events leading up to that activity could result in a loss. If that worker were to use a machine that he knew had faulty wiring and was electrocuted, then he would not receive a benefit because he should have known that he could be injured because of the wiring problem.

Some states consider bodily injury policies that use the words “accidental means” different from those that mention “accidental injury”. Court cases may hinge on whether the wording of the policy implies that the insurer has liability for the cause of the accident (death or injury from accidental means), or if the liability is dependent on the effect (injury or death).

How Insurance Policy Language Refers to Accidental Means 

A typical clause in an insurance policy that provides coverage for accidental death means might read, "Due proof that the death of the insured occurred as a result, directly and independently of all other causes, of bodily injuries effected solely through external, violent and accidental means..."

Whether a given event is covered depends on how the relevant jurisdiction construes "external, violent and accidental means." "Violent" and "external" commonly qualify the concept of "accidental means," and the courts are in widespread agreement on that definition. 

  1. Accidental Death Benefit

    The accidental death benefit is payment due to the beneficiary ...
  2. Accidental Death And Dismemberment ...

    Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D) is coverage ...
  3. Accident And Health Benefits

    Fringe benefits provided to employees for sickness, accidental ...
  4. Voluntary Accidental Death And ...

    A financial protection plan that provides a beneficiary with ...
  5. Aviation Accident Insurance

    Insurance that provides coverage for injuries resulting from ...
  6. Personal Injury Protection - PIP

    A feature of automobile insurance that covers the health care ...
Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    4 Types Of Insurance Everyone Needs

    Here are four forms of insurance that are vital to have.
  2. Insurance

    Insurance Coverage: A Business Necessity

    Don't go to work without this policy in place - especially if your work is in your home.
  3. Investing

    Elements of Insurable Risks: A Quick Guide

    Explore the elements of insurable risk: due to chance, measurable and definite, predictability, noncatastrophic, random selection and large loss exposure.
  4. Insurance

    Beginner's Guide To Auto Insurance

    Find the perfect policy that suits both your coverage and budgetary needs.
  5. Insurance

    5 Insurance Policies Everyone Should Have

    Insurance policies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The right policies will go a long way toward helping you protect your assets.
  6. Insurance

    It's Raining Lawsuits: Do You Need An Umbrella Policy?

    This type of insurance protects your assets and future wages against lawsuits. Find out if it might benefit you.
  7. Insurance

    Car Insurance Add-Ons That May Be Worth The Money

    Many auto insurance add-ons are unnecessary in most situations and will simply drain money out of your pocket. There are several that are worth adding on to make sure that you are adequately ...
  8. Insurance

    Top Tips for Cheaper, Better Car Insurance

    Accident, theft, vandalism - make sure your coverage will protect you when you need it most.
  9. Insurance

    How to Find the Right Car Insurance

    Finding the right car insurance can be difficult. However with these strategies, you can get the most for your money, protect your assets and your health.
  1. Why is accidental life insurance so inexpensive?

    Accidental life insurance is an inexpensive way of obtaining life insurance coverage for yourself or someone else in your ... Read Answer >>
  2. Can your insurance company drop you after an accident?

    Learn how auto accidents can lead to insurance premium increases or policy cancellations, and why high-risk drivers are more ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
  2. Perfect Competition

    Pure or perfect competition is a theoretical market structure in which a number of criteria such as perfect information and ...
  3. Compound Interest

    Compound Interest is interest calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods ...
  4. Income Statement

    A financial statement that measures a company's financial performance over a specific accounting period. Financial performance ...
  5. Leverage Ratio

    A leverage ratio is any one of several financial measurements that look at how much capital comes in the form of debt, or ...
  6. Annuity

    An annuity is a financial product that pays out a fixed stream of payments to an individual, primarily used as an income ...
Trading Center