In this article, we explain how living and working abroad can impact both your existing life insurance policies and any life insurance policies you intend to take out in the future. We look at a number of scenarios, explaining all of your options, including where best to buy the cover and how to get up to £100 cashback.
What is life insurance and how does it work?
Life insurance is an insurance policy that will pay out a guaranteed income or lump sum if you die before the agreed policy termination date. Premiums are paid monthly and the benefits are paid tax-free. There are a number of different types of life insurance available, many of which are available for those that have moved overseas and we explain each of them briefly below.
- Term insurance - The most popular type of life insurance. Pays out a guaranteed lump sum if you die within the policy term. Both the premium and the amount that you are insured for stay the same throughout the term of the policy.
- Index-linked Term insurance - The same as Term insurance however the premium and the amount you are insured for increases each year, either by a set percentage or by the Retail Prices Index (RPI).
- Whole of life insurance - A life insurance policy that you continue to pay until you die. The policy usually has an investment element and as these types of policy require more administration, they are typically more expensive than any other type of life insurance policy.
- Decreasing term insurance - A life insurance policy where the benefit decreases over time, usually in line with a repayment mortgage. Most people require less life insurance as they get older and so a decreasing term insurance policy can be a good option for some, especially those on a tight budget due to the cheaper premiums on offer.
- Family income benefit - Another type of decreasing term insurance policy. Family income benefit will pay out a guaranteed income if you die within the policy term. A good option for those that are used to budgeting and know how much the family would need should they die. The potential total payout reduces over time and so the premiums are cheaper than Term insurance premiums.
- Over 50s life insurance - A life insurance policy designed for those over 50. You are guaranteed to be accepted, however, the amount of cover you can get will be relatively low. Those in good health would probably be better off looking at Term insurance.
All of the above life insurance options are available to those either already living abroad or who are intending to move overseas. Later in this article we explain in more detail how living and working abroad can impact new and exiting life insurance policies.
Does moving abroad affect my existing life insurance policy?
It depends. There are a few different scenarios that we need to consider and so let's look at each one in turn:
Is my existing UK life insurance policy valid if I move abroad?
In most cases, yes. Life insurance is underwritten based on the information you give at the time of your application and so long as the information you give is correct at that time, then you should be covered if your circumstances change. It is always worth checking with your insurer, but so long as you had no knowledge or intent to move abroad when you applied for the cover then you should be ok. Some insurance companies may request that you continue paying the premiums from the same UK bank account and that you continue to have a UK address for correspondence, so bear that in mind.
Is my existing UK life insurance policy valid if I work abroad?
Again, in most cases, yes. If you have taken a new job or if your job has changed and requires you to live or work abroad then so long as you were honest at the time of your original application then your existing life insurance will likely be unaffected and you should be fully covered. In theory, once your life insurance policy is in place, there is nothing stopping you from changing your job, your lifestyle or even taking up dangerous sports or hobbies, so long as you were completely honest and had no intention to do so at the time of the application. An insurance company may, however, take a keen interest with regards to how close the change in circumstances occurred in relation to the original application date, so bear that in mind.
I am intending to move abroad, do I need to let my life insurance company know?
No, you don't strictly have to tell your existing insurance company of your intention to move abroad, however it makes sense to get in touch with them, even if it is only to update the address they hold on file. If you intend to use an alternative bank account while abroad, bear in mind that some insurance companies insist that premiums need to be collected from a UK bank account.
Can I get life insurance if I move abroad permanently?
Yes, but the cover you get may depend on where you end up moving to and the reasons for doing so. If you would prefer to have life insurance with a UK provider then, ideally, you should try and get your life insurance sorted as soon as you can. Most life insurance providers will be able to offer life insurance, so long as you are not moving within three months and so long as there are no specific risks with the country you are moving to.
If your move is likely to happen within the next 3 months, then it becomes a little more tricky, but that doesn't mean to say you won't be able to get cover. You should try speaking to an independent life insurance specialist such as LifeSearch, as they will be able to talk to every insurance company on your behalf, giving you the best chance of getting some life insurance in place before you move. We explain more about LifeSearch and how they can help below, including how you can qualify for up to £100 cashback.
I currently live overseas, can I get life insurance from a UK provider?
Yes, but you'll likely need to have a UK bank account, correspondence address, as well as an 'insurable interest' in the UK. An insurable interest is another way of saying that you need a reason for the insurance, typically this would be a mortgage, business or inheritance tax liability, although it could also refer to family who depend on your income. The application would be subject to the usual underwriting process and so you should expect the life insurance company to take a keen interest in your reasons for residing outside of the UK, whether it be for work or pleasure.
What life insurance options are there for expats?
It really depends on what you need life insurance to cover you for. If you have existing liabilities in the UK, such as a mortgage, business or family who depend on your income, then you should be able to get life insurance from a UK provider. The insurance company is likely to check that the insurable interest is valid and you will have to undergo the usual underwriting process which looks more closely at your health, job and lifestyle.
Questions an insurance company will ask an expat include:
- What is the purpose of the cover (is there an insurable interest?)
- What country do you live in?
- Are there any associated risks with the country you live in, including risk of war, political unrest or any health-related risks?
- How long you have lived in your current country of residence?
- How long do you intend to stay in your current country of residence?
If you have no ties to the UK and only need life insurance to cover debts or funeral expenses then you should try applying for life insurance in your country of residence. It may be easier to arrange and could end up being cheaper.
What life insurance is best if I regularly work abroad?
It will likely depend on a number of factors including the type of work you do, the countries you visit and the length of time you reside in those countries. There is not one type of life insurance or life insurance provider that is best for those who regularly travel abroad, however not every insurance company will ask the same questions and so you may find it easier and cheaper to get life insurance arranged through one particular insurance company. The tricky bit is knowing which insurance company is best for your own personal circumstances and so you should speak to an independent life insurance specialist who can speak to all of the insurance companies on your behalf and put you in touch with the company that will offer the best life insurance.
Can I get a UK life insurance policy if I live abroad for half of the year?
Yes, however, the insurance company is likely to take a keen interest in your reasons for living abroad, what you do while you are there and how long you stay there for at any one time; this will usually be in the form of a short questionnaire.
Broadly speaking, you should be able to get UK life insurance if you live abroad for half of the year, so long as:
- there are no associated risks with the country you live in, including risk of war, political unrest or any health-related risks
- you have not spent more than 90 consecutive days in Africa, the Caribbean, Russia, Thailand or Ukraine
Best way to buy life insurance if living abroad (or intending to live overseas)
Every life insurance provider has a different underwriting stance when it comes to life insurance and living overseas and so it is often best speaking to an independent life insurance specialist as they will be able to speak to every insurance company on your behalf, ensuring that the company you approach is the best for you own individual circumstances.
LifeSearch is one of the UK's largest independent life insurance specialists and they will be able to help you to complete any application forms as well as provide guidance on putting your policy into trust, ensuring that any potential payout escapes probate and meaning your future beneficiaries do not pay any inheritance tax. Simply complete this short form and you will receive a callback at a time that suits you. Additionally, if you decide to take out a policy you will qualify for up to £100 cashback.
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