One of the most effective methods of providing for your family in your absence is term insurance. The simple and affordable nature of the plan has enjoyed widespread appeal. Thus, it is natural that Non Resident Indians (NRI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) may consider investing in a term insurance policy. As of December 2018, the number of NRIs and PIOs stood at 31 million as stated in a report published by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
This blog will answer a frequently asked question –
Is term insurance valid outside India?
The answer is, yes it is. Non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) are allowed to invest in term insurance plans offered by India based insurers. Before we get down to pre-requisites of having term insurance plans in India as an NRI or PIO, let us know who all constitute a Non-resident Indian (NRI) or Person of Indian Origin (PIO). They are Indian citizens or foreign nationals of Indian origin who can trace their birth, descent, or origin to the Republic of India. The NRI population also includes spouses, parents and children of those individuals who have moved abroad to seek employment. For more details, please refer the definitions provided under Income-tax Act 1961 and the Ministry of External Affairs Except for a few changes, the process involved in purchasing term insurance is nearly similar for both residents and non-residents.
Another question that may arise is whether the death of an Indian citizen outside India is covered by term insurance. The answer is, yes it is. For a short trip, a natural death is generally covered irrespective of where it occurs. However, it may so happen that you purchase a term insurance as an Indian citizen but are required to move abroad due to employment or other reasons during your policy term. You may be considered an NRI after purchasing your term plan as an Indian citizen. In such a case, you must inform your insurer of your plans of settling in a foreign country. A lot depends on the place that you are moving to and the risks associated with it. Your policy may remain unchanged or may be modified.
Procedure for getting a term insurance
NRIs while on their visit to India can approach an insurer directly or through an agent and apply for investing in the term plan of their choice. While evaluating the case, the insurer may ask for a medical history and collect information such as the country of residence. One will then be required to pay premium charges as per the terms of the policy chosen.
You can also make a purchase of policy (from an insurer located at home country, i.e. India) sitting in your country of residence. This can be particularly useful if you have family back in your home country, since it is easier for your beneficiaries to raise a claim in the unfortunate event of your demise if the insurer is based in India. On the contrary, if your insurer is based in your country of residence abroad, your family may have to go through a long-drawn process to claim the insurance sum.
Term insurance benefits and other important features
Credentials required may vary from one insurance provider to another but the most common documents that an insurer will ask you to submit are –
• An attested copy of your passport.
• The application or proposal form duly filled in.
• Proofs of your identity, age, address, income, earnings & medical reports following a health check-up at the time of application. In addition to this, you will also be required to pay the insurer a sum of money equal to the first instalment of premium, as specified in the terms of the policy you select.
In case of death of the NRI term insurance policyholder outside India, here are some additional documents that need to be submitted to the insurer to initiate the claim process other than the regular documents –
• Copy of death certificate verified by the Indian Embassy located in the country of death.
• Employer certificate along with leave and contact details.
• Cause of death certificate
Obligation to provide proof of medical history
You must also be aware that you are obligated to provide details of your medical conditions, if your insurer requests for the same. Besides, if you suffer from any pre-existing health issue, your insurer must be aware of the same. This is an obligation for NRIs and residents as well. However, insurance companies may conduct tele-medical examinations for their NRI clientele. Most importantly, your insurance cover may lose validity if you are found to be hiding any vital information from your insurer.
The answer to the question "Is term insurance valid outside India?" is especially significant as there is a huge Indian diaspora abroad. Buying a term insurance is a sound step in creating a financial safety net. However, it is important to note that not all NRIs can avail the term life insurance cover since many Indian insurers follow a list of countries which they refrain from providing services to. Therefore, it is important for you to check if the area of your residence is categorised as a high-risk area.