Will my life insurance payout if I die abroad

We receive this question quite often. And we get it. Many of our clients want to know if their life insurance will payout if they die abroad. Therefore, we felt it would be helpful to go over the topic and address this and other common questions we get.

We’ve divided this article into several topics. For easier navigation, you could click the one you want to learn more about.

Prior to jumping into the topic, we want to take a second to advise you that if you need some additional information, or have some questions, you can always reach out to us directly.

Will my life insurance payout if I die abroad and when it might not

Ok, since we got that out of the way, let’s jump into it…

Will my life insurance payout if I die abroad

Yes, your policy will payout if you die abroad. We wanted to go ahead and answer this question first and give you a straightforward answer. Most life insurance companies will cover you should you pass away anywhere in the world.

This stands true, even if you renounce your US citizenship or move permanently abroad. The key is disclosing all of the information at the time of applcition.

Instances when a life insurance policy will NOT payout if you die outside of US

We felt it was important to go over the instances when a policy would not payout if you pass away outside of the US.

* Did not disclose international travel on the application

We can’t stress how important this is. You ALWAYS need to be honest and upfront on your life insurance application. You need to answer truthfully on the application questions. Companies evaluate your application and use the information to determine the risk. Some would ask about past travels, based on your residence state, and almost all would ask about future travel plans. If you have plans to travel outside of the US you need to advise the company about it. They will ask where are you planning on going, the duration of your trip and the purpose of the trip. This is a requirement not only for foreign nationals but for US citizens as well.

Companies are typically OK with international travel, so there is no reason to fear. In fact, we’ve created a separate topic on how international travel affects your life insurance. 

* Commit suicide

Suicide is an exclusion with just about any company for the first 2 years of the policy. In other words, should you commit suicide, whether, in the US or abroad, your policy would not pay out?

* Act of war

Every company would want to know if you are on active duty in the military, have been a member of, or applied to be a member, or received a notice of required service in the Armed Forces, Reserves, or the National Guard.

Companies will not pay out if your death was determined to be a result of the Act of War.

* Suspicious death

This may feel it comes straight from the movies, but companies would withhold payment if the cause of death is not yet confirmed. This does not mean that they would not pay, but it could slow down the process significantly. Especially, when they would be relying on foreign intel to lead any investigation.

What happens if you die abroad

Here are some of the steps, your family needs to take should you pass away abroad.

Obtain the death certificate

The local authorities would issue a death certificate. Make sure you get the original and a certified copy of it. You want to make sure you have plenty of legal copies, as various agencies would need to record the death.

Notify the US Embassy of the country the insured had passed away if he or she was a US citizen. The Embassy might be able to help you with making the arrangements and advise you of the steps you need to take.

Handle the necessary arrangements

This means that you need to decide if you want to ship the body back to the US, bury it abroad or cremate it.

Notify the life insurance company and file a claim

In order to file a claim, you would need to know

  • The company name
  • Policy number
  • Death certificate
  • The beneficiary needs to reach out to the company
Life Insurance caution sign

Here is some important information we want to share with you. If the policy was issued less than 2 years ago and the insured passes away, the company has the right to contest the claim. Why is that important? They have the right to request an autopsy or other forms of investigation to determine claim eligibility. You need to reach out to them prior to making a decision such as cremation.

What if the beneficiary lives outside of the US

If the beneficiary does not reside in the US, please review our guide on the topic. 

Please read:

The only reason, we are saying most not all companies will payout if you die abroad, is because there are over 2000+ life insurance companies on the market today.  There could be some that will have foreign travel as an exclusion, but this is an exception rather than the rule.

Our advice,

When selecting your life insurance policy, make sure you are working with a financially strong company that has been in business for a long time and it’s A-rated or better. This will offer you the peace of mind that your policy would not be filled with exclusions.

In conclusion,

Your life insurance policy will pay out should you pass away abroad. There are some exceptions and additional procedures that your family would need to follow.

We hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.