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Does Life Insurance Pay for Overseas Deaths?

Traveling Abroad? Your Life Insurance May Still Cover You

Is life insurance valid if you move abroad? Once a person purchases a life insurance policy, one naturally presumes that coverage is in effect and return to their daily lives as such.  Just like any other legal agreement, however, insurance policies contain a lot of fine print that consumers often do not read.

The Boonswang Law Firm highly recommends that you review your life insurance policy, especially before traveling out of the country.  This is because life insurance policies contain many hidden exemptions, or reasons the insurance company will not pay a beneficiary upon an insured’s death. Don’t take a chance when it comes to overseas life insurance!

Many exemptions come into effect while an insured person is traveling.  Does your life insurance cover you if you go deep sea diving in Australia?  What happens if you die while vacationing?  Are you covered if you die while on business overseas?  What happens to your insurance coverage if you move out of the United States?  The Boonswang Law Firm is here to help you answer these questions.

Does Life Insurance Still Cover Me Outside the US?

It depends on both your own policy and the country you are visiting. A business trip to Tokyo will be treated very differently than backpacking the Andes Mountains.  Insurance companies often make the following considerations when deciding whether to pay on the life insurance policy.

Is your destination dangerous or underdeveloped?

The first consideration is what country you are traveling to.  Life insurance companies often place countries into one of three categories:  acceptable for travel; acceptable for travel (but with limited coverage amounts if traveling a certain amount – usually three to six months); and unacceptable for travel.  The countries are categorized based on an analysis of their travel services, government, and general industry data.  Even countries that share the same continent may be categorized differently.  For example, Sudan may be deemed unacceptable while Rwanda may be deemed acceptable.

How long are you staying abroad?

What to do with insurance when I move overseas? The next consideration is the length of time you plan on traveling.  Usually, if you travel outside the United States for a period longer than six months, you will be treated as a Non-U.S. Resident, which could stall your life insurance coverage until you return.  If you plan to move out of the United States and/or maintain dual residences, your life insurance company will do a deep dive into the country to which you plan to relocate.  To assess the risk involved with living in another country, life insurance companies will look into the country’s economic conditions, public health and sanitation standards, quality of medical facilities, and more.

What will you be doing abroad?

Lastly, life insurance companies will consider what activities you plan to engage in during your time outside of the United States.  If you plan to travel for a week-long vacation to Venice, Italy to sightsee, that involves less risk than if you were to white water raft and sky-dive all over India for a month. If you are working overseas indefinitely, you may want to change policies to one that will better accommodate your lifestyle needs, whether you are freelancing, conducting remote work, or are hired by an overseas company.

Because so many considerations are made, we suggest that you call the Boonswang Law Firm.  Step-by-step, we can begin to answer these questions with you and get you on your way to your exciting destination soon and with a better understanding of your coverage.

Foreign Death Claims Can Be Challenging

Another question that the Boonswang Law Firm can help you answer is whether you are covered should you pass away while overseas.  A foreign death claim occurs when an insured dies outside of the U.S.

Normally, if the policy has been in place for at least two (2) years, the insured should be covered if he passes away abroad.  Before a life insurance claim is paid to the beneficiary of the policy, however, the insurance company always requires proof of the person’s death.

If the person died in the United States, a death certificate will suffice.  Providing proof of death becomes much more difficult, however, when the person dies overseas.  Customary practices, resources, and technology all vary greatly from country to country, which can preclude a country from recording a death in the same way that we do in the United States.

The Insurance Company Will Delay Paying Death Benefits To Investigate

It is common for insurance companies to ask again and again for more documentation, or delay because ostensibly they are investigating. One case we handled arose when the insured died in Ghana on a business trip. A two-year “investigation” commenced into his death, meaning, payment of death benefits was delayed for two years. Because the insurer did not act in good faith in their “investigation” (they made no attempt to verify any of the many documents our client submitted!) we got our client paid, at last.

Find A Life Insurance Lawyer for Foreign Death Claims

When insurance companies are given proofs-of-death or death certificates from countries that are unusual compared to the U.S.’s death recording practices, insurance companies often allege that they are being victimized by people faking their deaths, and will most often launch their own investigations.  It is always a good idea to check your policy before you plan any travel and check all the clauses, particularly the exclusions, because they vary from policy to policy.  The Boonswang Law Firm is here to help you understand all of the confusing life insurance language.

Written By: Chad Boonswang
Chad G. Boonswang, Esquire is a litigation lawyer based in Philadelphia, PA. Selected as an ASLA 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Top 100 Litigation Lawyer, Mr. Boonswang plays to win. As a lawyer, athlete, and scholar, he has always put in the energy, time, and commitment to be the best. After working for several prominent law firms in Philadelphia, including Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP, he founded his own practice in 2002.  Since then Chad has recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of his clients from life insurance claims and catastrophic injury cases.  Year after year, he has earned a 10.00 Superb rating on Avvo.

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