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Life insurance for non-residents
Most insurers offer coverage to non-citizens, but it depends on your residency status.
The security that life insurance offers is available to most non-citizens and non-residents in the US. But where you’re from plus your resident status will determine the kind of coverage you can get and which company can insure you.
What's in this guide?
- Can a non-resident or non-citizen get life insurance in the US?
- How your resident status affects life insurance
- Does it matter which country I'm from?
- How do I prove I'm going to stay in the US?
- Which companies offer non-resident life insurance?
- How do I apply for life insurance as a non-resident or non-citizen?
- Find a life insurance policy for non-residents
- Should I work with an insurance agent?
- What should I do if I'm denied life insurance?
- Bottom line
Can a non-resident or non-citizen get life insurance in the US?
Yes. Your non-citizen status shouldn’t keep you from getting life insurance, although you might have to pay your annual premiums up front. And while your coverage options may depend on your resident classification, circumstances and your country of origin, there are several insurance carriers ready to work with you on a policy to provide coverage while you live in the US.
How your resident status affects life insurance
Insurance companies typically categorize your application and the rules surrounding your premium based in part on your resident classification. This shows the ties to your life in the US — or more accurately, how long you plan to stay and your interest in doing so.
Green card holders
As a permanent resident, you are treated the same as a US citizen for life insurance purposes. But as with all the details on your application, you should be honest about your classification.
Non-student visa holders
Visa holders can sometimes get life insurance, but you’ll face limited coverage offerings and hurdles throughout the application process.
- Country of origin. Your country may prevent you from buying life insurance in another country, and the US government has placed restrictions on residents of specific countries, which could make you ineligible to buy life insurance from a US company.
- Limited options. Depending on the insurance carrier, you may be limited to only purchasing permanent life insurance, and some companies require you to buy at least a $250,000 policy.
- Visa requirements. Each company will have a list of the visa types that it accepts.
- Residency requirements. The longer you’ve lived in the US, the more life insurance options are open to you. If you’ve lived in the US for less than a year, you may have trouble finding coverage, but it’s still possible.
Student visa holders
It can be much harder to get life insurance as a student, because student visas are temporary, and students usually lack business or work ties to the communities where they live. Additionally, your amount of life insurance coverage is tied to your income. If your income is too low, you may not qualify to purchase the minimum amount of coverage required for non-citizens, which is usually $250,000.
Children with citizenship
If you’re a non-citizen, having a child who is a US citizen can increase your chances of finding a life insurance policy, because that establishes your significant interest in staying in the US.
Does it matter which country I’m from?
Yes. Both the laws of your country and the US can prevent you from purchasing life insurance. There are also some states, provinces and territories within countries that allow or disallow purchase of US life insurance.
|Countries that disallow purchase of US life insurance||Countries the US Government disallows from buying US life insurance|
Additionally, life insurance companies use letter ratings to assign risk classifications to countries of origin:
- “A” countries. Applicants from these countries have the most possible life insurance options available to them, similar to if they were US citizens.
- “B” countries. Applicants qualify for a slightly lower rating than from A countries, but still have most options available to them.
- “C” countries. Applicants may need to go through an agent or broker to find the best options, and many insurers won’t offer policies to non-citizens from these countries. Also, you most likely won’t be able to buy term life insurance.
- “D” countries. Life insurance isn’t impossible for applicants from these countries, but it can be difficult to obtain — and you’ll have to show highly significant financial ties to the US to qualify.
How do I prove I’m going to stay in the US?
Most insurance companies have two standards to prove before issuing insurance to a non-US citizen: substantial presence and significant interest. Substantial presence is about how long you’ve lived in the US. Most countries require that you’ve lived here for one to two years, and some require proof for as long as five years.
Establishing significant interest is about proving why you choose to stay in the US, whether it’s for business or personal reasons. If you have purchased a home or own a business, that can prove your interest in staying in the US.
Which companies offer non-resident life insurance?
Not all insurance companies are willing to offer non-resident life insurance, but the companies listed below are a good place to start on your search.
|VISA TYPE||AIG||BRIGHTHOUSE||JOHN HANCOCK||MINNESOTA LIFE||MUTUAL OF OMAHA|
How do I apply for life insurance as a non-resident or non-citizen?
Applying for life insurance as a non-resident can take anywhere from eight to 12 weeks, and you need to stay in the country for the entire process. You can expect the following steps:
- Apply for the insurance policy you desire and fill out all of the related paperwork.
- Supply an English language version of your medical records.
- Schedule and take a paramedical exam, which usually includes a blood and urine test.
- Wait six to eight weeks for approval.
- Sign the paperwork to finalize your policy.
- Pay your premiums in US dollars. Most companies require that you pay an entire year of premiums up front.
What info do I need?
Before you apply, make sure you have the following documentation and information ready:
- Your date of birth
- Your country of origin
- Your occupation
- The length of your current stay in the US
- The US state where you live
- Any travel plans over the next year
- Your Social Security number or ITIN
- A W-8 tax form
- The type of visa and its expiration date
- An English language version of your medical records
Do I need a Social Security number to apply for life insurance?
No. As long as you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), some insurance carriers will sell you a policy. If you don’t have an ITIN, you can apply for one using the W-7 form through the IRS.
Find a life insurance policy for non-residents
Should I work with an insurance agent?
Having someone who knows what policies are available to you in your circumstances will help save you the time of doing that research on your own. A good agent can also help to save you money by helping you to find the least expensive option for the coverage you need.
But direct agents can only sell you insurance for the company they work for. And you’ll want to make sure to check the credentials and reputation of any independent insurance agent or broker you work with.
What should I do if I’m denied life insurance?
After going through the extensive process and waiting for your life insurance application to be processed, it can be really disappointing to find out you’ve been denied. But there’s still hope. Consider the following to help get you back on track:
- Ask for a review. Sometimes mistakes are made, or the denial comes from a lack of information provided. It’s always a good idea to request a review of your case to make sure you don’t need to appeal.
- Call an insurance agent or broker. If you didn’t use one in your initial search for a policy, finding an agent you can trust after a denial can help you explore options you may not have considered.
- Apply for a different policy. It’s possible you won’t qualify for the life insurance you applied for, but may for a different kind of policy. If you have other options available to you, consider a policy with fewer restrictions and different benefits.
- Try to fix the problem. If your denial was based on a health issue that is potentially something you can fix, take the time to work on your health. For example, if you are a smoker, trying to quit could result in a better outcome if you choose to apply for life insurance again.
You can have the security of life insurance as a non-US citizen. But understanding how insurance companies classify visa holders and their countries of origin can help you navigate what kinds of coverage are available to you. And even if you do decide to use an agent in your search, comparing life insurance companies on your own can help to make sure you don’t miss out on the best fit for you.
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