A schedule or writing annexed to a document such as a legislative bill or insurance policy.
A rider is an attachment, schedule, amendment, or other writing that is annexed (added) to a document in order to modify it. The changes may be small or large, but in either case the primary purpose of the rider is to avoid rewriting or redrafting the document entirely. The language of the rider is understood to be incorporated into the document. Riders are commonly used in contracts and records and also have complex uses in legislation and insurance. As part of the lawmaking process in both state legislatures and Congress, riders are typically added to bills at a late stage in their evolution. In the insurance industry, riders are added to insurance policies to modify both benefits and the conditions of coverage.
The use of riders in the legislative process is a time-honored tradition. Lawmakers do not add riders immediately but instead wait for the appropriate stage in the evolution of a bill. Traditionally legislative bills start out as proposals that are sent to committees for approval or dis-approval. Once a bill successfully passes out of committee, lawmakers frequently amend it with a rider. The rider may simply add a new clause to the law that is the main subject of the bill, or it may go further and add an entirely new, unrelated law.
The addition of riders reveals much about the political agendas of lawmakers. Riders make ideal opportunities to introduce controversial or unpopular fiscal changes. Often these are attached to appropriations bills, which must be passed annually to fund the operation of state and federal government. Some lawmakers have traditionally seen such bills as the place to add extra appropriations for projects they and their constituents favor—a kind of funding known pejoratively as pork. Conversely, legislators may add riders that cut spending in areas that would attract public protest if the changes were the single subject of a bill and thus more noticeable.
Lawmakers' attempts to add new laws to bills through riders are sometimes controversial. Since a rider need not be related to the subject matter of the bill, legislators sometimes seize the opportunity to further their political agendas. A rider may be attached to a bill in an attempt to sneak through a measure that would not attract majority support if proposed by itself. Sometimes, too, a bill's opponents may attempt to defeat it by adding a controversial rider.
In insurance, riders change the contract, or policy, between the purchaser and the insurance company. Also known as endorsements, they can either expand or restrict the benefits provided by the policy. Thus, for example, personal automobile insurance policies generally cover only typical use of the vehicle. A rider specifies that commercial use of the car will make the policy null and void. This form of insurance rider is called an exclusion.
Riders in HEALTH INSURANCE policies have other effects. They increase the cost of the policy or even exclude coverage altogether when the purchaser has certain preexisting health conditions. For example, someone suffering from high blood pressure may pay higher costs for insurance. In certain cases the insurer may choose to issue a policy with the stipulation that it will cover certain health-related costs but not those costs associated with the preexisting condition.