Life insurance is important to own—whether you’re a full-time permanent U.S. resident or not.
If you are not a U.S. resident, but want to apply for life insurance in the U.S., you are required to have some tie here, such as an owned business or vacation home. You also need to be physically in the U.S. at the time you start your application and at the time you accept and pay for the policy.
How can I get life insurance if I am not a U.S. resident?
If you are not a permanent U.S. resident, your best chances of getting affordable life insurance is to apply through a broker, like Quotacy. Brokers are not tied to one life insurance company and are able to shop the market. Certain life insurance companies have different requirements when it comes to approving applications for non-residents so it’s in your best interest to have options.
We want you to get approved and will work hard to help you get coverage. Start the process by getting a free term life insurance quote or keep reading for more in-depth information about buying life insurance as a non-resident.
» Compare: Term life insurance quotes for non-residents
A Few Definitions
When it comes to life insurance, the term Non-Resident covers anyone who doesn’t permanently reside in the U.S. or have their citizenship. This includes immigrants new to the U.S., visa holders who are in the U.S. temporarily for work or school, and even Expats – U.S. citizens living abroad.
According to the IRS, an “alien” is any individual who is not a U.S. citizen. The term “Non-Resident Alien” is often used for any alien who has not passed the green card test or the substantial presence test.
For life insurance underwriting purposes, a non-U.S. resident is defined as an individual who:
- Spends more than six months a year outside of the U.S.
- Visits the U.S. for business or pleasure but maintains a permanent residence outside the U.S.
- Is expected to reside in the U.S. on a temporary basis (ex: an exchange student or individual residing for professional training.)
- Resides in the U.S. on a part-time basis only.
- A person who is an immigrant from a foreign country, residing in the U.S. with intent to stay, but who does not have a green card and has been in the U.S. for less than one year.
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How Being a Non-Resident Affects Life Insurance Availability
For non-resident aliens to be considered for life insurance coverage, they must demonstrate a regular travel pattern to the U.S. and meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements:
- Own liquid or non-liquid U.S. assets (e.g. insurance policies, property, accounts, U.S.-issued credit card);
- Have immediate family residing legally in the U.S.;
- Be employed by or have ownership in a U.S.-domiciled company;
- Have ownership in a U.S.-domiciled trust or other legal entity.
Another aspect taken into consideration is where the non-resident travels. Below is a list of examples in which an individual may not be insurable, even if on paper they meet the eligibility requirements:
- They travel to any country listed on the U.S. State Department’s Travel Warnings list.
- They travel to a country at war or in open conflict.
- They travel to any country with increased risk due to terrorism, uprising, or political instability.
- They travel to any country experiencing famine, endemic, epidemic, or pandemic disease(s).
- They travel to any country where access to at least routine medical care is limited or nonexistent.
- If they have potential volatile medical risks (e.g., coronary disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders) and travel to any country where access to emergency care is limited or nonexistent.
To apply for life insurance as a non-resident, you typically must do the following:
- Take the medical exam in the U.S.
- Good to know: Medical records must be in English. Carriers won’t translate them. (Medical records may be retrieved from your home country in most cases, but the process will go faster if you physically have them in the U.S.)
- Be in the U.S. when the policy is approved and mailed to you.
- Pay the premiums from a U.S. bank account.
- Good to know: Death benefit payouts have to be paid out as U.S. funds.
- Purchase a minimum of $250,000 of coverage.
Benefits of Owning U.S Life Insurance
While there are quite a few hoops to jump in order to become insured, both non-resident aliens and expats owning life insurance coverage on themselves get many benefits:
- Death benefits are received by beneficiaries generally income-tax free.
- Death benefit amount is not included in the non-resident alien’s taxable U.S. estate.
- If policy has cash value, cash value accumulates tax-deferred.
- Non-resident alien has income-tax free access to the policy’s cash value through loans and withdrawals up to the basis of the policy (the accumulated premiums paid).
One last thing to note: you don’t have to die in the U.S. for your beneficiaries to receive the death benefit. As long as the policy is inforce, the contract is still valid regardless of where death occurs. It’s standard practice, however, that a death occurring outside of the U.S. may need additional documentation, such as a Foreign Death Questionnaire or a cancelled passport.
Being a national online life insurance agency, here at Quotacy we work with many non-residents looking to get life insurance coverage. We can help you too. Start out by getting an instant term life insurance quote, or if you’re looking to get further one-on-one information, feel free to contact us. Our friendly agents are happy to assist with any questions you may have.
» Learn more: A Guide to Life Insurance for Non-U.S. Citizens
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.