Working remotely has become a modern day dream job – the possibilities to travel as you work online now exist in almost every industry, and every country in the world has lost residents to the idea of being a digital nomad.
While there are many things to consider when pursuing a location independent lifestyle (like staying productive while traveling, keeping organized, and setting up nomad travel insurance), one of the most commonly overlooked things is your life insurance.
Being that you have to think about financial security once you start working for yourself, life insurance is important to ensure your business continues to operate without interruption, and your loved ones are supported if you die.
Even if you have life insurance in your home country, there are circumstances where you might not be covered by insurance while you’re abroad. So we’ve put together this guide of everything you need to know as a digital nomad.
What Digital Nomads Need to Know About Life Insurance
Be Scrupulously Honest on Your Application
There’s not one life insurance policy out there that doesn’t include a provision regarding omissions, mistakes, or misstatements – and if those are material to your death, your policy could be void.
For example, if you state in the application that you don’t travel, but you’re a digital nomad, and you die from something related to being in a high risk country, this can void the policy.
In these instances your insurance company is likely to deny your beneficiary’s claim due to alleged misrepresentation; your beneficiary can always argue that whatever you failed to disclose was not material to your death, but this can be an uphill battle (and they’ll likely need an experienced national life insurance beneficiary attorney to get paid).
So… don’t lie.
Disclose all medical conditions, where you plan to reside while abroad, and what you plan to do while there so that your beneficiary doesn’t have a long, protracted battle with your insurance company due to alleged misrepresentation.
There are some medical conditions, some destinations, and some activities that cause an underwriter to consider you a higher risk. While this might cause your premium to increase, you’ll still be covered, and it’s not worth the risk.
Disclose also how long you plan to be abroad. Many policies are inactive after you spend six months abroad, and if you die after that period your beneficiaries’ claims will not be paid. This is especially relevant to digital nomads.
Know Your Policy Exclusions
Everyone has good reason to go to the trouble of taking out life insurance – you need your beneficiary to get paid when you die.
But even the most expensive life insurance policies have “exclusions,” meaning things that you can die from and you won’t be covered, such as the following:
Common Life Insurance Exclusions
➡ Drug or alcohol overdose;
➡ Act of war or terrorism (esp. if in a not-acceptable-for-travel country);
➡ Death during some activity explicitly listed in the policy;
Unfortunately, if you die under one of these circumstances, or if it is even suspected that you did, the insurer will investigate and at the very least, payment of your beneficiaries’ claims will be delayed.
Your beneficiaries should be advised to have an attorney represent them in this case – the attorney can deal with the insurance company’s investigative team and make the necessary arguments in favor of coverage.
Particularly as a digital nomad, you want to make sure you’ve read all the fine print around terrorist activities. Being that many countries are quick to write off attacks these days as terrorism, if you can find a policy that pays out in these instances, this will put you in a better position.
Claims Made During the Contestability Period
Life insurance policies have a thing called a contestability period – this is the 2 year period following the day you take your life insurance policy out.
During this period, the insurer can deny claims made if there are any errors or omissions on your insurance application. It’s to stop people from making fraudulent life insurance claims, so it’s really important to make sure that you’ve been scrupulously honest on your application.
Claims have been denied during the contestability period when the insured stated they weighed 150 when in fact they weighed 168 – even though their weight had no bearing on the cause of their death.
Insurance companies will always avoid paying out if they can, so it’s important to make sure that every last detail you submit has been meticulously, and thoroughly checked.
Pay Your Premiums in Full and On Time
It’s easy to lose track of bill and payments when you’re on the road, and traveling through different timezones, but it’s important to make sure that your premiums are paid in full, and on time.
Now that we have electronic banking, paying bills while abroad is much easier than it used to be. You can even set up automatic withdrawals of the premium from your account, which is the best way to make sure the process is seamless.
It’s important to make sure that your insurance company has your foreign address and email address so that they can get in touch if there is a problem with your account or payments.
Failure to pay premiums on time and in full can cause the policy to lapse, and eventually terminate. If you’re making payments manually, we recommend paying a week ahead of time.
This way, there’s a buffer in case anything goes wrong, like the bank freezing your account because you logged in from another country (make sure you advise your bank of your travel itinerary).