The opportunity to live or work abroad can be an enticing one. Experiencing a different culture, seeing the world, and finding better weather can all be powerful draws when a chance to emigrate arises.
It’s a choice that millions of Brits have made. Indeed, estimates suggest that there are 5.5 million Brits permanently living overseas.
When you head abroad to live or work there are plenty of things to consider. From different tax regimes to learning a new language, every foreign move comes with its own challenges. One of these is making sure that your life insurance remains valid if you move overseas.
In some cases, it isn’t as simple as continuing to pay your existing life insurance premiums. Factors such as the country you move to, the work you will be doing, and the length of time you expect to be abroad can all affect the validity and cost of your insurance.
So, here are answers to a range of questions we’re commonly asked about what happens to your life insurance if you move abroad to live or work.
Can I take my life cover with me?
If you already have an existing life insurance policy, and you provided accurate and truthful information about past, current or future residency or travel plans when you applied for the cover, your life policy should continue – provided that you keep the payments up to date.
Some insurers will continue to provide the same cover if you move abroad, but you should check your plan documentation for specific details of your cover and any exclusions that may apply.
Many insurers will want you to pay the premiums from a UK based bank account, and so you may have to retain your account in the UK. Some insurers may also insist you retain a UK address.
You will also need to inform your insurer that you are moving abroad. Not all countries or parts of the world will be acceptable. See below for more about this.
What kind of considerations will affect an insurer allowing the cover to continue?
There are several factors an insurer will consider when deciding whether they will allow your existing cover to continue.
How long you are going abroad
The insurer will want to know how long you are going overseas for. Generally speaking, the shorter the time, the less of an issue it will be.
If you go abroad for more than six months, many UK domestic life insurance products could be invalidated, or the insurer might make some significant changes to your terms and conditions.
Where you are going
While developed countries generally won't be an issue, more hazardous locations can be more or a problem.
For example, if you were going to live or work in some parts of Africa, or somewhere like Afghanistan, your insurer may not be happy to continue with the policy as you’ll be in a high-risk area.
“High-risk” may mean the likelihood of armed conflict, health risks like certain diseases or infections, or political instability.
Your accommodation while abroad may also influence the insurer’s decision. For example, if you are going to live in a secure compound this is likely to be more acceptable than standard accommodation in a more hazardous location.
What you do while you are abroad
It’s also important to bear in mind that there are some insurers who might not cover you if something happens while you’re engaging in a high-risk activity, like scuba or skydiving for instance.
What about if I need to change my life insurance while I'm living abroad?
It’s unlikely you will be able to make changes to your cover, unless you are insured with a firm that has an expat-specific proposition.
You will need to consider any changes before you depart or shop around for specific expat insurance while you are away.
There are some UK-based insurers that will offer protection to expats, although the cover will typically have to cover a UK liability. This might be a UK mortgage, a potential UK Inheritance Tax liability, or to protect a dependant spouse and/or young children living in the UK.
Unless you are with an insurer who has an expat specific proposition, you will more than likely be unable to make changes to your cover. You will need to plan ahead and make the arrangements before you go or look at options specifically designed for expats while you are away.
Can I arrange life insurance while outside the UK or do I need to be in the UK?
In many cases, you can deal with the insurer over the phone. We, at I'm Insured have a dedicated online service for expats and our consultants have vast experience working with expats.
However, there are some circumstances when it is necessary for you to have a medical. These can be arranged abroad in some instances, but in other cases this may need to take place in the UK. Our consultants will guide you through this process if required.
What if I spend only a portion of the year abroad?
As a general rule of thumb, if you spend up to or less than six months abroad you will have the option of most UK insurers to choose from in the event you want to arrange new or additional cover.
A short-term trip might include a holiday, visiting family or taking a business trip overseas. It could be anything from a couple of days in length to a month or two.
Many standard life insurance policies will provide cover when you travel to countries deemed “safe” or “low-risk”. It’s important that you check the policy’s Key Facts document to confirm that you will still be covered when you enter your desired destination.
If you spend more than six months overseas, most insurers will class you as “living abroad” and so you will more than likely need to look at an expat-specific product.
Will the price of expat insurance vary according to my location?
When heading overseas, there are some countries or locations that will automatically add an additional cost to the cover. These may include the “high-risk” locations we mentioned above.
That said, most locations are priced at the same cost as if you were resident in the UK.
Should I review my cover upon returning to the UK?
It's always wise to periodically review your arrangements.
For example, if you have been paying a higher premium because of the location you were living in, there may well be cheaper alternatives upon your return.
We can help you find the right cover
We know the expat market well and have wide experience sourcing polices for British expats resident all over the world. We can help you find the specialised cover you need to insure your UK based interests – whether that’s your family, business, or assets such as property.
If are an expat with a financial liability in the UK, and you have a UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Gibraltar bank account to pay the premiums from, we can help you arrange cover such as:
- Level term assurance, to provide a fixed lump sum in the event of your death within a specific term
- Decreasing term assurance, perhaps to protect a repayment mortgage
- Critical Illness cover, to provide a lump sum in the event you are diagnosed with a serious illness.
Find out more, and get in touch with one of our experts to find out how we can help you find the right expat life insurance.
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