Are you a U.S. ex-pat traveling the world, or living abroad and working remotely? Exciting lifestyle, but… do you know if your life insurance is covering you while out of the country?
Pretty dry stuff considering the lifestyle you’ve chosen, however, if you have life insurance that means you have taken the time and effort to plan ahead and provide for your loved ones. What if the life insurance coverage you’ve made the effort to get for yourself is not effectively covering you?
Here are three common scenarios that cause beneficiaries’ claims to be denied when the insured is out of the country, gleaned from working with busy life insurance beneficiary attorney Chad Boonswang, Esq. I’ll also offer solutions that will help make sure your beneficiaries are paid in the way you intend, should the worst happen while you are out of the country.
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Problem #1: Claims Denied Due to Nonpayment of Premiums.
- 2 Solution #1: Have Premium Payments Automatically Deducted from a Fully-Funded U.S. Bank Account.
- 3 Problem #2: Claim Denied Due to Policy Exclusions.
- 4 Solution #2: Disclose Where You Are Traveling and What You Will Be Doing There To Your Insurer.
- 5 Problem #3: Claims Denied Due to a Misstatement on Your Life Insurance Application.
- 6 Solution #3: Be Scrupulously Honest and Thorough in Filling Out Your Application.
Problem #1: Claims Denied Due to Nonpayment of Premiums.
Solution #1: Have Premium Payments Automatically Deducted from a Fully-Funded U.S. Bank Account.
When traveling abroad the last thing you are thinking about is writing a check to your insurance company. That, and it is likely that you will not receive the notice of premium due in the mail if you are on the move. If your policy “lapses” or is “terminated” due to non-payment of premiums, your beneficiaries’ claims will not be paid.
These days, solving the problem of making the periodic premium payments in full and on time could not be easier. We have electronic banking, banking online, and apps for cell phones that enable us to make deposits, transfer funds, and pay bills. Still, when you are on the go are you going to remember to pay that bill? Solve this issue by setting up automatic withdrawals of premiums from your U.S. bank account. Also, make sure your insurance agent has your foreign address and email address so that he or she has ways to contact you should a payment be late.
Situations in Which Your Beneficiaries Will Still Be Paid
If your policy lapses or is terminated and you die before you can pay the arrears, a life insurance beneficiary attorney can help get your beneficiaries paid if the facts fit into the following exceptions:
- You become disabled, and your policy provides for premium waiver in that case;
- You die within your policy’s grace period;
- An administrative error was made by the insurance servicer that caused your policy to lapse or terminate.
Problem #2: Claim Denied Due to Policy Exclusions.
Solution #2: Disclose Where You Are Traveling and What You Will Be Doing There To Your Insurer.
Let’s face it – your insurance company only makes money when they DON’T pay claims. If your insurance company suspects that a policy exclusion applies to your death there will be an investigation and your beneficiaries’ claims will be at least delayed, if not denied.
Take a look at your life insurance policy. You will see that it includes several “exclusions,” which are exactly what they sound like – death that is not covered by the policy. It is common for exclusions to include:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Act of War or Terrorism
- Death during some activity expressly provided for in your policy
How do you solve this? Be sure to let your insurance company know where you are traveling, for how long, and what you will be doing there. If you are traveling in a higher-risk country, or, you are taking part in higher-risk activities, you may pay a higher premium for life insurance coverage but at least you will be covered.
Some life insurance policies provide that if a person is out of the U.S. for more than six months, they are “non-residents” and their coverage is suspended. If you die with coverage suspended for this reason, your insurance company will deny your beneficiaries’ claims.
Tell your beneficiaries to seek the advice life insurance beneficiary lawyer if their claims are delayed or denied due to exclusions or because the policy was suspended due to non-resident status.
Problem #3: Claims Denied Due to a Misstatement on Your Life Insurance Application.
Solution #3: Be Scrupulously Honest and Thorough in Filling Out Your Application.
Your policy likely provides that if you have misrepresented any fact on your application for life insurance, that voids the policy. Your life insurance company will cry misrepresentation even if the error was innocent, for example, if you wrote your year of birth as 1965 instead of 1956.
Misrepresentation is a common reason for denial because people used to take out insurance and lie on their application about their medical history or activities in order to qualify for a less expensive premium. However, if a person fails to disclose that they sky-dive and then they die while sky-diving, you can bet that the sky diver’s beneficiaries’ claims will be denied.
If your beneficiaries’ claims are denied due to alleged misrepresentation, they should not take no for an answer. A life insurance beneficiary attorney can help them investigate, and if the error was not material to your death, that can get them paid. Also, if the error would have raised premiums, their attorney can negotiate a pay-out that is something less than the full death benefit to make up for the unpaid premiums.
Previous Medical Conditions
You absolutely MUST disclose any medical conditions, medications you are taking, any major illnesses, and any surgeries. If you do not, and you die from something you knew you had, your beneficiaries’ claims will certainly be denied.
If you’ve made the effort to take out life insurance, then take these three steps to make sure you are covered while abroad, and that your beneficiaries are paid the way you’ve planned.
This is a guest post by Veronica Baxter
About the Author Veronica Baxter is a freelance writer and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She lives in South Philly with her husband John and many, many rescue animals.