- If I die while overseas, could my beneficiaries collect?
- August 2, 2011
There are all sorts of things to plan for when taking a trip overseas, but it’s safe to say that one thing few people plan for is dying.
Yet 1,049 U.S. nationals died while visiting another country in 2010, according to statistics from the U.S. State Department. The State Department provides a list of American deaths overseas from non-natural causes based on country and year.
Nearly all of those deaths were documented with proper investigation and a legitimate death certificate, but there have been a handful of instances where no body was found and little investigation into the circumstances of the death was conducted. That’s a recipe for someone to scam the system, says Ryan Pinney, a life insurance risk specialist with Insurance Services in Roseville, Calif.
“This isn’t a big problem for insurance underwriters, but it’s on their radar,” says Pinney. “That’s why insurance companies ask a lot of questions about foreign travel and citizenship in their prescreening interviews.”
And that, says Pinney, is the best chance insurance companies have to address even the remote possibility someone wants to travel overseas and intentionally disappear in order for his or her family to cash in on a big life insurance policy.
“All life insurers do this. Typically, what they all try to do is find out why someone is traveling, and who is planning on traveling outside of the United States for two weeks or more at a time over a two-year period,” said Pinney. “Those are the ones they want to pay particular attention to.”
And while world hotspots like the Middle East, Southeast Asia and parts of Africa are automatic red flags, it’s a country closer to home that’s getting a lot of attention from insurers. Insurers want to find out why you’re traveling to certain areas. Are you in the military and seeking additional coverage? Are you a missionary who’s going to be gone for two or three years? Are you simply visiting your family?
“During wars, you might not be able to get coverage, or it’s going to be a lot more difficult to get coverage,” said Pinney. “You’ll pay an awful lot more or the provider will limit the amount of coverage you can buy. If you’re visiting Israel, for instance – or any country in the Middle East – you might want $5 million in coverage but you may only be able to get $1 million and it’s going to cost a lot more. That’s one way insurers limit their risk.”Pages: 1 2
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