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Expat Life Insurance

Starting a new life overseas is a wonderful experience. But it can place financial strain on you and your family – something which can be exacerbated by death. In these circumstances, it’s good to know you have a plan B, especially when it comes to providing a form of income to help your family manage their living expenses. That’s where expat life insurance comes in handy.

What is expat life insurance?

Unlike a life insurance policy you purchase in your home country, international life insurance insures you wherever you live or travel to worldwide, within certain limits. In the event of your untimely death, international life insurance pays a lump sum to your family or nominated beneficiary, ensuring they can continue to meet their financial obligations without you. So long as you adhere to the terms of your policy, it won’t matter where in the world you pass away. With expat life insurance, you’ll be covered.

New to life cover? Our Life insurance FAQ helps explain some of the key terms.

Key facts about expat life insurance:


  •        Expat 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.

Why do you need life insurance as an expat?

Whether you need expat life insurance depends on your personal circumstances. Think about whether there are any people who depend on you financially, like a partner or children. If so, life insurance is a way you can help give them a financial safety net if you’re no longer around to provide for them anymore. Payouts from life insurance can be used to help pay off mortgages, cover the costs of raising children, and cover monthly bills. If you haven’t made any provisions for your loved ones in case you were to pass away, you might want to consider life insurance.

If you have moved abroad with your family or other dependents, they may rely on you to provide an income to pay for things such as rent and utilities, school fees, loan and mortgage repayments, and so on. Your sudden death may therefore render your family or dependents unable to meet their costs of living. Additional expenses associated with your death, such as funeral fees and probate, may also add to the financial strain.

Furthermore, depending on where you live in the world, your family may not be able to access government support such as social security. This loss of income could plunge your dependents into arrears, debt, or even poverty depending on their situation. This is, of course, a worst-case scenario – but depending on your contribution to the family finances, you may want to consider international life insurance as part of your contingency plans just in case the worst should happen.

How to choose the best expat life insurance policy?

When purchasing life insurance, it’s important to consider:

  1. How much coverage you need
  2. Whether a term life or permanent life policy makes more sense
  3. What you’ll pay for premiums
  4. Which riders, if any, you’d like to include
  5. The differences between life insurance quotes for each potential policy.
Expat life insurance differs from a normal life insurance policy -
it covers you no matter where you travel in the world.

A robust expat life insurance may offer:

  • A cash lump sum paid out to your family, dependents, or other beneficiaries in the event of your passing away.
  • Early pay-out of your cash lump sum in the event you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, with a prognosis of less than 12 months.
  • Accident benefit, which is a form of additional cover paid out for death or disablement caused by an accident.

When you apply for expat life insurance through William Russell, so long as you’re under 50, fit and healthy, and applying for coverage of US$750,000 or less, we can usually issue your plan in less than 48 hours.

If we ask you to complete a medical examination as part of your application, this can be at a clinic near you, and we will reimburse you the cost once we issue your plan.

Want to know more about the key benefits of our life insurance plans?
Find out more here
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How much does expat life insurance cost?

There are different types of expat 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 expat life insurance: you renew your policy each year without the need for medical questions or examinations, and your life benefit stays the same.

It’s essential to understand precisely what is covered and what isn’t covered by your international 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

What affects the cost of expat life insurance?

In addition to the type of policy you choose, there are several factors that can influence the cost of your life insurance premiums. The price an individual pays usually depends on factors including:

  • Age – generally, the older you are, the more expensive a policy will be. This is because with age comes an increased risk of developing a medical condition that may affect your life expectancy.
  • Lifestyle – leading an unhealthy lifestyle can increase premiums. For example, drinking too much alcohol or being overweight can shorten life expectancy. Premiums will be typically higher to reflect this.
  • Health – having a pre-existing medical condition can affect the price you pay. Some more serious, chronic medical conditions mean that premiums will be typically higher.
  • Family medical history – insurers may ask if your parents or siblings have a history of a serious medical condition. For some people this may impact your price, as there can be a greater risk of you suffering from the same condition.
  • Occupation – if you have a dangerous job, it’s possible that you will have to pay more than someone who works in a lower risk profession – for example, someone who is an office administrator.
  • Smoker status – a smoker can expect to pay more for life insurance cover than a non-smoker, because of the health risks associated with smoking. This includes all nicotine replacement products, including vaping.
  • Length of cover – life insurance policies with longer terms can be more expensive than policies with a shorter term.
  • Amount of cover – you decide how much you would like to be covered for – generally, the higher this is, the higher the premiums will be.

It just might cost you a little more in premiums. Whether you get cover, and what you’ll pay, is down to your personal circumstances – so it will be different for everyone.

It’s important to answer any questions your insurer asks you accurately and honestly when applying. If you don’t, it could have a devastating impact on your loved ones, as it can affect whether your insurer is able to pay out a claim on the policy in full.

How much life insurance do you need?
We answer the most popular life insurance questions

Can I choose who the money goes to when I pass away?

Generally, the answer is yes – but you’ll need to make sure the right arrangements are in place.

As part of the process when buying life insurance, you’ll need to designate one or more beneficiaries. A beneficiary is a person who will benefit from the lump sum payout from your life insurance policy. A life insurance beneficiary can be – but not limited to:

  • A spouse
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Adult child
  • Business partner
  • Charitable organization
  • A trust

If you have a single life insurance policy, the money will be paid into your estate. You can choose to name a single beneficiary or a primary beneficiary and one or more contingent beneficiaries. A contingent beneficiary would receive death benefits from your life insurance policy if the primary beneficiary passes away. You could also consider placing it into a Trust. It’s a good idea to seek independent legal and financial advice when thinking about placing a life insurance policy into Trust or writing a will.

If you have a joint life insurance policy, when you pass away, the money will usually go to the surviving policyholder – that is, the other person you had the policy with – unless you made other arrangements. If you and your partner separate at any time, you can split your joint policy into single policies.

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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How do you choose a partner to help you settle into your new life overseas? We recommend choosing one with 30 years’ experience providing insurance exclusively to expatriates like you.

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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