What are my life insurance options when living abroad?

As an expat, there are a number of reasons why you may be looking for life insurance.

It could be that your previous policy has come to the end of it’s term.

Or it may be that you have found out that your old policy does not cover you now that you are living overseas. You may have had a “life event”, e.g. marriage or birth of a child.

Or you may be looking to use it as a way to mitigate an inheritance tax liability.

Whatever the reason, you need to know the options open to you.

Option 1 – Look for a provider in your home country

Most insurance providers in your home country are not going to let you set up a new policy with them if you are not resident there.

In the unlikely event that they do, cover will depend on the country that you are now resident in. I.e. if you are living in Switzerland, you may be ok. If you are living in Saudi Arabia, for example, they are less likely to cover you.

Additionally, if you subsequently move from safe country A to notsosafe country B, then you are back to square one.

However, you are now also older, meaning that the cost of cover is going to be greater and there is the risk that in the mean time your health has deteriorated meaning that you may not be able to get cover at all.

Option 2 – Look for a provider locally

There are a couple of reasons why this isn’t the best course of action for you.

Firstly, it’s not uncommon for local insurers to have restrictions on foreigners buying life insurance. For example, the amount of cover that you can have may be limited. This could leave you underinsured and your family exposed.

The other factor is that if you move to an assignment in another country you again be will be back where you started. I.e. your cover will no longer be valid and you will be looking at setting up another life insurance policy.

Option 3 – Set up an international life insurance policy that is designed for expats

This is likely to be your best option.

It is what I did when I found out that the policy that I set up when I was living in the UK no longer covered once I moved to Poland (apparently Warsaw is more dangerous than London; who’d have thunk it?).

With an international policy, the insurer will cover you wherever you live and the insurance will also be valid should you move on to live in another country.

This eliminates the need for you to chop and change policies and as a result you are not exposed to the risk of your health deteriorating and suddenly finding out that you are unable to get cover.

Action Point

If you already have life insurance in the UK, get your insurer to confirm, in writing, that you are still covered now that you are living overseas.


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By Ross Naylor

Ross has been a financial adviser for the past 26 years. He uses the experience that he has gained over this time to help busy expats to understand their options, make smart decisions and avoid costly mistakes.