Some non-U.S. citizens may choose to purchase life insurance policies in the United States. There are several advantages to these policies: helping with tax downsides of the low estate tax exemption for non-citizens, providing security for U.S.-based relatives, having coverage that is not available in your country of origin, and more.
Life insurance policies underwritten by United States companies are available for purchase by non-U.S. citizens in some situations. The amount of time you spend in the United States, your immigration status, and your country of origin all can affect whether you can purchase a policy.
Amount of Time You Spend in the U.S.
Insurance companies look at the amount of time you spend outside the United States to determine if you are a foreign resident. Usually, they consider you a foreign resident if you spend more than 3 months outside the U.S. each year or you have no permanent U.S. residence, but this varies by insurance company. Each insurance company may have additional requirements for showing United States ties, such as your holding U.S. bank accounts and assets. If you are a foreign resident, some companies require that you show significant connections to the U.S., while others allow those with no connections to purchase policies.
Your immigration status could affect whether you can purchase a life insurance policy in the U.S. Those with green cards or who have become citizens should have fewer issues obtaining coverage. If you are here on a visa, the insurance company may want you to have lived in the U.S. for six months or more and for you to share your future plans for staying in the country. If you are a non-resident who spends a lot of time in the U.S., the insurance company may want you to stay in the country while the entire application process gets completed (6-8 weeks or more, including a medical exam).
Country of Origin
If you are considered a foreign resident under their rules, the insurance companies look at special lists of countries. One list indicates countries that do not allow their citizens to purchase life insurance in another country. Another list shows countries for whose citizens the U.S. government has prohibited U.S. life insurance purchases. Companies also assign different health ratings based on your country of origin, because people from different countries or regions have different life expectancies. This can greatly affect the premium payments you will need to make on the insurance.
Purchasing life insurance can have significant estate planning benefits for non-residents. Consider talking to an insurance agent and to your estate planning attorney about how to incorporate it into your long-term plan.
Are you a non-U.S. resident interested in planning your estate in California? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind.
To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.