Americans love to travel. Some of us are regular jet-setters for business or pleasure, and almost all of us have plans to travel to some exotic foreign land at some time in the distant future. So what happens when you are ready to take that trip abroad and you realize that you don’t yet have life insurance? Here are some steps to take to obtain that valuable coverage before stepping onto foreign land.
Step 1: Determine your destination and trip duration.
Most travel destinations will not be problematic, as long as you do not intend to stay for an extraordinary length of time. If you are planning a trip to a dangerous country, you will likely be declined for coverage. Check the government’s travel warnings list to see if there is a warning for your destination. This list is constantly changing in response to global developments.
Life insurance companies consider the safety of a country based on many factors, including issues such as war or conflict, famine, disease, scarce access to medical care, political instability and economic issues. In addition, applicants with a higher-than-normal medical risks in combination with travel will likely face a steeper price tag.
The length of time you are allowed to stay abroad varies from company to company. Take this into consideration before booking your trip, and be sure that you select an insurance company that will allow your length of travel. A two to three week trip to a safe destination is rarely questioned.
Step 2: Research term life insurance companies.
No-one expects you to do this by yourself! Find an experienced life insurance broker who works with multiple life insurance companies to find one will be the most lenient on your specific travel situation. For example, a person who travels monthly to Hong Kong for business will need a life insurance company that specializes in foreign travel situations.
Step 3: Complete your application and purchase your policy before your trip.
Most people wait until the last minute to apply for life insurance, so now is the time to get that policy approved! Apply online, preferably through a brokerage that allows electronic paperwork and signatures to cut down on processing time.
Be truthful on your application, you don’t want to give the insurance company any reason to deny a death claim. Regarding your travel plans, be as specific as possible and include exactly how long your trip will be and exactly what cities/towns you will be staying in.
If possible, do not leave for your trip until your policy has been approved and placed in force. You must receive and sign for your policy in your state of residence, so if you fly off to Italy before your policy is approved, it may not be in force until you return home to sign the final documents. There are some exceptions to this rule depending on the company you apply with and if you prepaid for your policy or not.
Step 4: Consider your options.
If it is clear that you will not be able to get a traditional life insurance policy in force before your departure date, consider non-medical life insurance policies. Non-medical life insurance policies do not require a medical exam, thus saving precious time, and the entire application process can be done via the phone or online.
If you are traveling to an unsafe country, you will likely have to wait until you return from your trip to apply for life insurance.
Several states have adopted legislation that prohibits life insurance companies from using foreign travel as the sole reason for declining an applicant. This trend was started by the Life Insurance Fairness For Travelers Act of 2007. The bill was not enacted, however it spurred similar legislation by several states. Currently the following states do not consider foreign travel as part of their underwriting: CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MN, MO, NJ, TN, and WA.
Often, foreign travelers living in the United States are not yet U.S. citizens. If this is the case, insurance companies will also take into consideration the applicant’s residency status, whether it be a green card or one of the many visa types. Intent to remain living in the United States is important to most insurers, and applicants with temporary visas are declined by some companies. If you have a green card you should not have any trouble getting a policy, and there are several insurance companies that accept applicants with certain visas.
Traveling to foreign countries is exciting and sometimes a little bit scary. Enjoy your traveling adventures to the fullest knowing that your life is insured. Safe travels everyone!