Life insurance when moving abroad

26 January 2024

The decision to move overseas can offer exciting new opportunities. According to Statista, for the year ending June 2022, more than half a million people left the UK to live abroad, so if you're making the leap, you’re in good company.

Understandably, you’ll want to know how this big decision affects the finer details of your life, from tax planning and health coverage to whether you can get life insurance if you live abroad. So, if you’re moving for work, retirement or simply sun, sea and sand, here are the key things you need to know about overseas life insurance and moving abroad.

What is an 'expat'?

The word ‘expat’ is short for expatriate, which refers to someone who lives overseas rather than in their country of citizenship. ‘Expat’ is sometimes used to describe people who hold temporary or non-permanent visas in another country, often for the duration of a work project, rather than someone who seeks to obtain permanent residency in a new country.

However, there is much debate around the term ‘expat’ and not everyone agrees on the exact definition. So, is there such a thing as life insurance for expats?

What is ‘expat life insurance’?

When people refer to ‘expat life insurance’, it can mean different things. For example:

  1. A life insurance policy taken out by UK applicants where the cover remains valid during periods of living abroad.
  2. A life insurance policy taken out by expats while they’re living in another country, and which is valid for that country alone.
  3. An 'international insurance' policy which offers cover in multiple countries or worldwide

So while it’s possible to have life insurance as an expat, you may want to explore whether your UK policy covers you while abroad (and for how long). Read our guide to some of the short term life insurance policies we offer, including for temporary moves abroad.

Alternatively, you may wish to take out a new life insurance policy in the country you’ll be living in, though each territory has its own consumer protection laws so you would need to carry out research.

If you want a bespoke international life insurance policy for a long-term period overseas, you may need to contact a specialist insurer and get detailed advice on your best options before you make arrangements.

What happens to my life insurance policy if I move overseas?

If you already have a UK life insurance policy with us and you subsequently move abroad, in most cases your policy will remain valid. As an expat, you will need to continue paying your life insurance premiums from a UK bank account, and have a UK address so that we can write to you.

Life insurance terms are based on the information you provide when you apply for a policy. If you already have an existing life insurance policy, then provided all the information about past, current or future residency or travel was accurately and truthfully given during the application process, your life policy will continue provided the payments are up to date.

If you have an existing critical illness or income protection policy or have a policy that includes waiver of premium benefit, please refer to your individual policy documents to find out more information about how these products are affected whilst overseas.

Should I tell my life insurance provider if I’m moving abroad?

If you are looking to relocate abroad, it’s a good idea to check your policy documents and speak to your life insurance provider, as moving abroad may invalidate your life insurance policy. Your insurer may ask which country you’re moving to; how many days per year you intend to live in the country; and what your occupation will be while living overseas.

Does life insurance cover death while living overseas?

If you were to pass away while living overseas and a claim is made on your life insurance, your beneficiaries could receive a life insurance payout if you provided accurate information in your life insurance application.

Additionally, if a claim is received whilst you are outside the UK, please be aware that there may be additional difficulties or delays due to obtaining and authenticating medical evidence or other documentation necessary to assess the claim.

Can I apply for life insurance if I’m moving abroad?

You have to be a UK resident in order to apply for a Legal & General protection policy, such as life insurance. Our definition of a UK resident is someone who is currently living in the UK and has spent at least 183 days in the UK in the last tax year.

And if you plan to leave the UK permanently within the next three months, we won’t be able to offer you a life insurance policy.

We can usually offer cover to customers who temporarily travel abroad to safe territories.

Can I apply for UK life insurance if I’m already living overseas?

While Legal & General life insurance is only available to UK residents, some insurers may offer life insurance for expats if you can prove you have an ‘insurable interest’ in Britain. This could include:

  • A mortgage
  • Financial dependants
  • A company you own
  • A possible Inheritance Tax liability

Everyone’s circumstances are different, so if you’re looking to take out life insurance as an expat, a specialist insurance adviser could give you a more detailed breakdown of your options.

Why is life insurance for expats difficult to secure?

UK insurance companies generally cover UK consumers. Additionally, there may also be tax rules and legislative requirements that apply in either the UK (or the country you’re moving to) that make life insurance for expats more challenging to arrange. Depending on where you’re living, this could include:

  • A higher prevalence of certain diseases or infections
  • Less access to healthcare
  • Armed conflict
  • Political instability

Can ‘digital nomads’ get international life insurance?

In a world where remote working has become widespread, many workers – particularly self-employed people – are becoming ‘digital nomads’, where they work while travelling overseas rather than staying put in a fixed domestic location.

You can get life insurance as a digital nomad, but just like any other applicant, your insurer will want to know how many days you will be resident in the UK; where you will be travelling to; and the nature of your work or activities while abroad.

Why do you need life insurance as an expat?

Expat life insurance is a good idea for the same reasons that getting a UK life insurance policy often makes sense. If you were to pass away without a life insurance policy in place, could your loved ones manage financially?

Additionally, living in some parts of the world represents an increased risk to your life, whether due to political instability, the prevalence of certain diseases or inadequate health services, so you’ll want to ensure you have the right financial cover in place. The same is true if you intend to participate in extreme sports while overseas.

Who can apply for ‘expat life insurance’?

If you’re applying for a Legal & General life insurance policy and intend to live overseas, remember that our life insurance is only available to UK residents. Additionally, applications can be considered if you’re a Crown Employee (a member of the UK armed forces, a civil servant, a diplomat) or employed in the Merchant Navy.

Generally speaking, your insurance provider will take into account whether the travel or residency is temporary or permanent, whether there are any specific risks in the countries or territories you have told us about, along with the periods of time involved, before deciding if cover can be offered.

If we’re able to offer you a policy, it will remain valid as long as you continue to pay your premiums from a UK bank account.

Support for your international life insurance

Naturally, our lives can change overnight when we make decisions about work, lifestyles and our location, and we recognise that people’s individual circumstances should be taken into account. If you’re only living in another international territory a short period, it’s possible that your life insurance will be unaffected.