Life Insurance Underwriting Strategies for International Travelers
Lower labor costs have shifted the production of many consumer goods to remote undeveloped parts of the world. Global entrepreneurs and company executives are frequently required to travel to remote locations to set up and supervise manufacturing activities. These individuals, and sometimes their employers, are often interested in obtaining life insurance for personal and business reasons. Several US insurers specialize in offering life insurance for international travelers.
Insurer Selection is Key
Many of North America’s traditional preferred-risk insurers do not to offer life insurance to frequent travelers to remote parts of the planet (at least in states where international travel can be considered during underwriting, which includes most of them). Let’s review key underwriting concerns and then overcome them so we can negotiate good outcomes with carriers comfortable in this market.
Availability of Competent Urgent Medical Care
International travel can be stressful even for healthy adults. Long flights lead to an increased risk of developing blood clots. Adjustments to different time zones has been shown to increase the rate of heart attacks. Excessive alcohol consumption, common to conducting business in many cultures, can exacerbate medical and non-medical risks.
Many executives are covered by global emergency concierge services that extract them by helicopter from just about anywhere, should they find themselves in an unfortunate situation. But what if the executive experiences an acute medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke, while visiting a production facility in a remote part of the world? Similarly, what resources are immediately available at the local level, if the executive is involved in a serious car accident?
Existing Medical Conditions
Many international executives have reached middle age and beyond. Some may already be diagnosed with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or recurrent heart arrhythmias. What type of care is immediately available if the executive experiences a complication, such as diabetic shock, while in a remote location? Is an external heart defibrillator easily accessible should there be a sudden cardiac arrest due an uncontrollable heart arrhythmia?
Exposure to Exotic Diseases
While pre-travel immunizations provide some protection from infection with many diseases common to remote areas around the world, vaccines are not available to protect against many dangerous bacteria, viruses, or larger parasites. Recent examples include outbreaks of Ebola in parts of Africa and Zika in parts of Africa, Central and South America.
We frequently hear of international transportation disasters involving airplanes, trains, ferries, and buses. Even travel by private car can be quite an adventure in many parts of the world.
Kidnap, Ransom, and Extortion
Some international criminal bands and local crime syndicates specialize in kidnapping foreign VIPs in hopes of extracting huge sums of money for the release of their captives. Did you know it is possible to buy kidnap & ransom insurance?
Travel to areas where Americans are not welcome for cultural, religious, or political reasons can have adverse consequences.
Easy Availability of Death Certificates
In some countries it is very inexpensive to obtain an official death certificate. Not all insurers have resources to uncover international insurance fraud or insurance-based money laundering.
Impact on Life Insurance Underwriting
It should be obvious by now that life insurance products designed for the domestic market do not include pricing for the additional risks associated with extensive foreign travel. It is sometimes possible to adjust domestic product pricing for international exposure using extra premium charges. But, in general, it is advantageous to secure coverage from an insurer with special expertise in covering international executives.
Identifying Risky Foreign Travel
Occasional short-term travel to Paris, Beijing, or Tokyo do not warrant special underwriting consideration. So, when does it make sense to explore special risk coverage? A good starting point is to review the US State Department’s latest international travel warnings. As a general rule, travel to areas identified by the State Department as “dangerous” will lead to underwriting challenges with most domestic insurers – in states where foreign travel can be legally considered.
Intelligent Life Insurance Underwriting Strategy
The good news is that it is often possible to negotiate acceptable offers of life insurance for extensive personal or executive foreign travel. Coverage for international journalists, missionaries, politicians, and other high-profile individuals requires additional special consideration and should be pointed out in advance of underwriting negotiations. Answers to the following questions will help us identify our industry’s top solution(s):
In order to thoroughly investigate life insurance options for international travelers it is necessary to obtain the following details regarding the planned travel:
- What is your name?
- What is your date of birth?
- What is your gender?
- Are you a US citizen?
- If not, country of citizenship:
- Visa status in US (e.g., Resident Alien, Green Card):
- If dual citizen, you are also a citizen of:
- Who is going to be the policy owner? A person, trust, company, or other entity?
- What is the situs (location, jurisdiction) of the policyowner?
- Does the policyowner have a US bank account?
- Will it be possible to complete your insurance physical in the US?
- What is the purpose of planned travel?
- How often do you travel overseas?
- Provide travel history, with dates, for the past 12 months:
- Where will you travel in the next 12 months? Please specify locations, including country, area, and cities – and how long at each location:
- Tell us about your accommodations while traveling (e.g. hotel, stay with relative, company-owned house):
- If executive travel, what are your work requirements (e.g., meet with executives at hotel, visit factory):
- What activities to you engage in outside of work, if travel is work related (e.g., sightseeing):
- When you are overseas, do you engage in hobbies or sports (mountain climbing, SCUBA, hang-gliding, racing, private aviation etc.):
- What are your transportation arrangements once you are at the international destination:
- Private aviation / non-commercial air travel (obtain aviation questionnaire):
- Tobacco use in past year, including cigars, chewing, dipping:
- Marijuana use in past year? If yes, describe type & frequency of use:
- Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions for which you are being treated? If so, please describe in detail:
- Please tell us about any prescription medications you are taking, and what each is prescribed for:
- Can you think of anything else we should know as we negotiate insurance offers?
Please forward answers to the above questions to your CPS Advantage representative, or via email to email@example.com. We’ll discuss the fact pattern with insurers that specialize in underwriting international travel risks and will provide our industry’s top solution(s) as soon as possible.