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Overseas Life Insurance

Overseas life insurance can provide invaluable financial protection for your loved ones if you die, but it isn’t always easy to work out exactly how much cover you need. Our guide can help you decide.

What are the types of overseas life insurance cover?

There are different types of international life insurance, for example, you may have heard of level term life insurance, decreasing term life insurance, and joint life insurance. We provide annually renewable life insurance: you renew your policy each year without the need for medical questions or examinations, and your life benefit stays the same. We include terminal illness cover and also offer optional personal accident benefit. So long as you adhere to the terms of your policy, it won’t matter where in the world you pass away. With overseas life insurance, you’ll be covered.

Key facts about overseas life insurance:


  •        Overseas life insurance is designed specifically for expats, frequent travellers, digital nomads, foreign nationals, and other people living and/or working abroad.
  •        It pays out a lump sum to your family or other named beneficiaries in the event of your death, up to 20 times your annual salary to a limit of US$2 million.
  •        Payments may also be dispensed if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or if you die because of an accident.
  •        However, there are many terms and conditions you must be aware of, as these may limit the benefits your family can receive.

How much overseas life insurance cover do I need?

As you might expect, the more coverage you take out, the more your monthly premiums will be. Therefore, you should think carefully about how much coverage you choose.

  1. Your financial and family situation will determine whether you need life insurance, and if so, how much coverage you should have.
  2. The younger and healthier you are, generally the less you’ll pay for premiums, but older people can still get life insurance.
  3. It may be wise to carry as much life insurance as you need to pay off your debts plus any interest, particularly if you have a mortgage or cosigned student loans with someone else.
  4. Your policy’s payout should be large enough to replace your income, plus a little to hedge against the impacts of inflation on purchasing power.
With William Russell’s international life insurance, you can choose your level of coverage, up to US$2 million, £1.5 million or €1.7 million.
The sum you insure cannot exceed 20 times your annual earnings.

What does overseas life insurance cover?

Life insurance is designed to help your family cope financially when you pass away. If you suffer a serious injury that may have an impact on your finances, you could consider our optional accident benefit. It’s essential to understand precisely what is covered and what isn’t covered by your overseas life insurance.

CoverCause of death
CoveredCommon causes of death (cancer, heart attack, accident, illness)
Death while you’re living & working abroad
Death while you’re in your country of nationality
Covered after one yearSuicide
Not typically coveredDeath from a pre-existing medical condition
Death from negligence, illegal activity, or drug or alcohol abuse
Death due to war or terrorism in a country the British FCDO advises its citizens not to travel to
Death not reported to us within 12 months
Death while you’re in Iran, Libya, North Korea, South Sudan, Syria or Yemen

 

Do I need overseas life insurance to take out a mortgage overseas?

Different countries have different laws when it comes to providing mortgages to expatriates and foreign nationals. In many countries, life insurance is a key requirement to getting a mortgage. Some countries may prefer you to take out a local life insurance policy, while others will be happy with an overseas life insurance policy.

William Russell’s global life insurance policy will help your family to continue your mortgage payments in the result of your death, but speak to your mortgage advisor first to see if our policy will cover you in the country you wish to purchase property in.

Want to know how to take a mortgage as an expat?
Learn more about taking out a mortgage internationally here.

Will I be insured no matter where I travel?

As an expat, digital nomad, or business traveller, it’s likely you will move between countries often, whether this is to return home, travel to new territories or commute across borders. You’ll need to be sure your international life insurance covers you anywhere in the world so that, if you die as a result of an illness or are the victim of an accident while not in your home country or country of residence, your life will still be insured.

Remember, some policies may have exclusions related to high-risk countries, and you may have to pay an additional premium if you intend to travel to these places. Examples of high-risk countries are places where:

  • There is an active state of war
  • The risk of terrorism is high
  • Rates of HIV infection are high
  • Rates of other diseases (including, sometimes, COVID-19) are high.

At William Russell, we are sadly unable to cover people who are residents of and travel to these countries:

  1. Iran
  2. Libya
  3. North Korea
  4. South Sudan
  5. Syria
  6. Yemen
  7. Switzerland (we can’t offer cover to an expat resident in Switzerland, but a member who is based elsewhere and travels to Switzerland, would be covered)
Want to know more about expat life insurance?
Learn more about Take a look at our handy full guide.

Will I be insured if I die from a pre-existing medical condition?

Many life insurance providers stipulate that you will not be covered if you die from a condition, you were already aware of at the time you started the policy. This may include degenerative, hereditary, or lifelong illnesses such as diabetes. In these situations, you may be able to take out an additional level of cover. At William Russell, we cannot pay out in the event of death as a result of a pre-existing medical condition. The cover may be provided if we are made aware of the pre-existing condition and our underwriters have agreed to cover in writing.

Will I be insured if I die as a result of war or terrorism?

Your life insurance provider may state in their terms and conditions that they will be unable to insure you while you are in a high-risk country, such as a country that is actively at war, or where terrorism is common. At William Russell, we will be unable to pay out if you die as a result of an act of war or terrorism while in a country that the British FCO advises citizens not to travel to.

See the British FCDO travel advice for all countries here.

Will I be insured in the event of suicide?

It is a sad truth that many expatriates are more at risk of mental illness and therefore suicide. Unfortunately, many international life insurance providers will stipulate that you will not be insured in the event your death is ruled an act of deliberate suicide. At William Russell, life insurance coverage for suicide begins after you have had your policy for one year or from one year from life benefit being increased.

Living or thinking about moving abroad?
Read about our international mental health cover.

Will I be covered in the event I die of contagious illnesses such as COVID-19?

Your insurer may place certain exclusions in your policy related to viral illnesses, infections, or other diseases, especially if you live in a part of the world where certain diseases are common and carry a high risk of mortality. Diseases that may be specifically referred to in your policy include:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Ebola
  • Malaria
  • Hepatitis
  • Cholera
  • Tuberculosis
  • SARS/COVID-19

At William Russell, you’re covered if you die as a result of disease so long as it is not excluded by your Certificate of Insurance – this includes COVID-19.

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How to make an expat life insurance claim

Life insurance benefits are typically paid when the insured party dies. Death benefits are not paid out automatically from a life insurance policy. The beneficiary must first file a claim with the life insurance company. Depending on the insurance company’s policies, this may be done online or it may require a paper claims filing. No matter how you end up filing, the company normally requires paperwork and supporting evidence to process the claim and payout.

Your beneficiaries may be required to provide a copy of the policy, along with the claims form. They must also submit a certified copy of the death certificate, either through the county or municipality or through the hospital or nursing home in which the insured died.

How to file a claim with William Russell

If you are the associate, relative or employee of a William Russell client who has recently passed away, please firstly accept our sincerest condolences. We understand you may need time to grieve and process before consulting your loved one’s plan, so please rest assured life insurance claims can be made to William Russell anytime within 12 months of a person’s passing away.

Once you are ready, a claim is simple and straightforward to process and can be handled online. Simply visit our claims page to get started – all the information you need is there.

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When you choose William Russell as your provider of international life insurance, you’ll know you’re in the safest possible hands. Trust William Russell to protect what’s precious. We’ve worked in over 200 countries, so we have the global expertise you can depend on.

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