05 Mar 2024

Does life insurance pay out if you die overseas?

We all love a good holiday, but trips overseas aren’t just about seeing the sights and soaking up the sun. Accidents or misfortune can strike at any moment, and dying abroad with no insurance is a nightmare scenario for any family. So in the event of a death abroad, what happens from an insurance perspective?

What happens to life insurance if you die abroad

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What happens if you die abroad?

If you were to die while overseas, what happens next depends on the country in question, and the circumstances surrounding the death. Here are the main stages that can be expected following a death abroad. More information and helpful resources can be found at the bottom of this page.

1. Identification

Usually, the deceased person must first be identified. This might be carried out by a travelling companion, or if you were by yourself, the local authorities.

2. Notification

It’s possible that UK consular staff can help if they’re notified of the death. They can tell you what to do next and put you in touch with translators, lawyers, funeral directors and charities. If you provide contact information, they can also attempt to inform next of kin. If the deceased has not travelled with family, they will arrange for a local UK police force to inform loved ones,

3. Post mortem

A post mortem is an internal examination that helps to determine the cause of death and if necessary, to provide forensic evidence for any investigation. In some countries, a post mortem will be conducted immediately following a death – often without the bereaved family’s consent. And of course, in some parts of the world there are no post mortem facilities. When a body is returned to the UK, a coroner (Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) will decide whether an inquest is needed.

4. Registration

A death needs to be registered in the country where the deceased person passed away. It may be possible to get assistance from the local hospital or police force, or your funeral director. You can register a death on GOV.UK, whether the death occurred in the UK or abroad.

5. Repatriation

It’s possible to repatriate a body to the UK with the help of an international funeral director. There are sometimes delays in repatriating the body if there is a postmortem or police investigation. You will need to have arranged the correct documentation and transport before repatriation. It’s possible to repatriate a body to the UK with the help of an international funeral director. This list has been provided by Gov.UK, we cannot help you choose a suitable supplier.

Alternatively, it may be possible to arrange a burial or cremation by contacting a local funeral director.

Does life insurance cover deaths abroad?

Yes, your UK life insurance policy will usually pay out to your beneficiaries if you pass away while overseas. But of course, it will need to be a valid life insurance policy, with all premiums paid and up to date when a claim is made. Our guide to life insurance when moving abroad has more information on what happens to overseas life insurance policies.

When does a life insurance policy not cover a death abroad?

What exactly is meant by dying abroad with no insurance? If you were to die overseas, here are some examples of when a life insurance claim may not be valid.

  • If you’re not a permanent UK resident.
  • If you’re travelling to a dangerous territory that isn’t covered by your life insurance policy.
  • If you die while taking part in a dangerous or hazerdous activity that isn’t covered by your policy.
  • If you die as a result of suicide (in our reasonable opinion), or intentional or serious self-injury, within the first year of a policy.
  • If you’ve outlived your life insurance policy while overseas.

Does life insurance cover repatriation?

A life insurance payout can be spent on whatever your beneficiaries deem necessary, whether it’s paying off (or contributing to) the mortgage, or household bills, childcare costs or future educational fees like university tuition. However, the payout from a life insurance policy could take longer than is required for bringing home the deceased's body.

If the person who died had travel insurance, contact the insurance company as soon as possible. Travel insurance may cover costs such as medical, repatriation, legal, interpretation and translation fees, or funeral directors. It’s important to check whether the insurer has pre-approved suppliers that you must use.

If the deceased doesn’t have travel insurance or it doesn’t cover all the costs, the family will be expected to pay. This may include hospital bills and bringing home the body and belongings. It’s normally possible to reclaim funeral costs from the deceased’s estate later. However, the money needs to be available, which is where a life insurance pay out can help.

More resources for dealing with a death abroad

Of course, every country has different facilities, processes and cultural perspectives, so there is no universal response to how a death is dealt with abroad. Below, we’ve compiled some resources to help make a difficult situation more manageable.

  • The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can be contacted about a death overseas on their 24-hour telephone line – 020 7008 5000.
  • The FCDO also provide comprehensive online guidance on what to do following a death abroad.
  • British embassies around the world can provide consular assistance – explore the list of British consulates on GOV.UK.
  • Tell Us Once is a service that allows you to report a death to most government agencies in one go – read more.

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