Life Insurance for Expats

Life insurance companies determine rates and eligibility on risk. Living abroad is considered high risk so it can impact a person’s ability to obtain expat life insurance. While some companies offer policies for those living abroad, others only offer coverage for those living domestically. Understanding how life insurance companies determine rates and eligibility will help you determine if you can obtain life insurance for expats.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The Rundown

  • Domestic residency is often a requirement for life insurance
  • Living abroad can be considered high risk
  • Eligibility depends on the specific plan

Living abroad is considered high risk so it can be difficult to obtain life insurance for expats. While policies are available for expats, options are limited.

Understanding how to obtain life insurance for expats from the best insurance companies will help you find the right policy.

To obtain life insurance quotes for expats, enter your ZIP code to find the best life insurance rates in your area.

Why is life insurance for expats difficult to obtain?

Life insurance companies determine rates and eligibility on risk. A high-risk policyholder is less likely to make all their payments before death so coverage can be difficult to obtain.

Companies consider living abroad riskier because they know less about living in those countries.

While it is more difficult to obtain life insurance for expats, it’s not impossible. Life insurance companies are more likely to offer coverage if a person lives in what they consider a safer country.

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How does moving abroad affect life insurance for expats?

In most cases, your expat life insurance policy won’t be affected if you move abroad. Some plans include international travel exclusions, which can affect your coverage when you’re out of the country.

But most permanent and term life insurance policies don’t feature these exclusions.

Problems obtaining coverage are more likely if you attempt to purchase while living abroad.

While some companies are comfortable with split residency, most require the application, underwriting, and final signing of a policy to occur domestically.

How can you buy life insurance for expats?

As previously mentioned, it can be difficult to obtain affordable life insurance for expats. This is because of the documentation that most life insurance companies require.

Most companies require the following documents before providing life insurance for expats:

  • Proof of identity, citizenship, and age
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of residency
  • Social Security number or tax identification number

Unless an expat has split residency, they won’t be able to provide proof of residency. In that case, it might be best to use an independent agent or broker to help find international life insurance companies.

The Insurance Information Institute offers tips on finding a broker.

If the life insurance company for expats accepts your documentation, the rest of the process is the same as if you’re a full-time resident.

Does life insurance for expats pay if you die abroad?

The ability to file a claim when a policyholder dies abroad depends on the specific policy. Some companies have travel exclusions or country exclusions for those considered high risk.

It might be difficult to obtain the full death benefit if you die in a high-risk country.

Regardless of where the death occurs, the life insurance company will require three documents. Life insurance for expats documentation includes:

  • Death certificate
  • Policy documentation
  • Completed claim form

In addition to these documents, a company providing international life insurance might require more information. This will likely include a W-8BEN, a tax form for those with foreign status.

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Life Insurance for Expats: The Bottom Line

It can be difficult for someone living abroad to obtain life insurance unless they already have coverage. The ability to obtain coverage depends on the policy and the company providing it.

A full understanding of life insurance for expats will help you determine if you’re eligible.

For those searching for life insurance rates for expats, enter your ZIP code to find the best life insurance quotes in your area.

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