Many people ask me if there will be any trouble getting them insured with life insurance if they travel internationally.
The answer is:
It depends. It depends on where you’re traveling to, the accommodations in which you’ll be staying, and how long you will be in that country. To be clear, travel is to be defined as someone who spends three months or less per year in another country.
For someone who spends more than three months in another country, they would be treated as a non-U.S, resident. That is somebody who does not have full-time permanent U.S. residence, or resides outside of the U.S. for three months or more annually.
Citizenship is not a determining factor in defining a non-U.S. resident, but if you are a U.S. citizen and U.S. resident and plan to travel a bit, here are some tips and ideas about how that will affect your life insurance rating.
First of all, if you travel to locations that are hazardous, this could possibly lead to a decline or rated case. For example, somebody who may be in the best of health may only get an average or standard life insurance rating if every year they visit China for two months.
In the case of China, there are some modern cities that are comparable to those in the west, such as Beijing, Shanghai and others, but if you were to travel to those regions it could lead to a lowering of your health rating class, which increases your premium.
Then in other more extreme examples, if you visit countries that may not be as safe, such as Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador all in Central America, and you are visiting those countries for two months, that could lead possibly to a decline of coverage.
Other examples in Africa or the Middle East could be Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on. You can see that these countries are clearly more hazardous than visiting Canada or Greece or Germany or Chile, or other modernized nations.
Since the life insurance company does have to pay the death claim if you die in one of these foreign countries while insured by them, they clearly have to take this into account in their underwriting.
So, you have a few options when you are looking for life insurance with international travels:
1. Make no plans for international travels before you buy life insurance. Many applications only ask about future travels, and not previous travels, so it’s possible even if you’ve been touring the world the last ten years, that you could get a policy if you have no current plans to travel outside of the U.S.
2. Only make plans to travel to well-established countries. I mentioned a few above. Some others might be Argentina, Japan, Ireland, England, most places in Europe, actually, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and so on.
3. Keep your travels under four weeks. One company I write business with frequently allows you to visit any country, whether it’s North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, or even Israel or Afghanistan, and you could still get their best rating.
The reason for that is because their foreign travel question on the application only asks if you plan to visit a country outside of the United States for more than four consecutive weeks, so you could potentially have travel plans to any of those places I just mentioned, as long as you’re only going there for two or three weeks, you can answer “no” to the travel question on the application.
You are not lying; you’re telling them the truth by answering “no” if you’re only going for two to three weeks, which brings me to number four.
4. Use an experienced, independent life insurance agent. If you do have travel plans, some insurance companies will treat those plans differently than others, so you need to use an independent agent who can tell you which the best company is to apply to.
For example, in question number three you may have no problem at all as long as your travels are scheduled for less than a month, but if they’re scheduled for more than a month, you really need to speak with an independent agent to see which company will treat you the best and give you the best deal.
As far as international travels go and type of life insurance, there are not typically any restrictions on the type of insurance that you can buy, so if you’re looking for term insurance, universal life, or whole life insurance, any of those should be fine. That is not really a factor in the approval.
What is a factor, again, is how long you plan to stay, which countries, and the accommodations while you are there. As always, you should speak with an independent agent like me to discuss your travel plans, and for a quick quote you can call us at (877) 996-9383, or simply get started with a quote request using our form to the right.