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Foreigners and Life Insurance

Please Note: I am not an attorney. This is not legal advice. Do not take this post as legal advice, as each case is unique. This post is a story about my experience with my spouse during the process of getting my husband’s marriage-based greencard in the US.

For foreigners who have life insurance through their jobs in the US, there are no issues. BUT for foreigners who try to get their own policy (not through work), it can be difficult, even for permanent residents (or foreigners who have a greencard)!

My husband applied for an individual life insurance policy at age 26–the insurance companies generally like young, healthy applicants, so we assumed he’d have no trouble.

During the interview, the agent kept asking, “Now you aren’t planning to go back to your country to live are you?” My husband was definitely NOT planning on that–first, we didn’t have $1000 for a ticket. Secondly, his career is in the film industry, and his country was having huge economic problems–there was no film industry there except pirated DVDs!

So we got the letter. He was REJECTED on the basis that he was from a country with dangerous living conditions!!!

I called the agent and told him that this seemed like a clear case of discrimination based on nationality, despite that my husband is intent on staying in the US. I said that I planned to pursue action against the company unless they would reverse the decision. The problem is that once you are rejected from one company, you are “blacklisted,” and other insurance companies also will tend to reject your application for life insurance. (Plus, I was about to have our first child at the time–we NEEDED life insurance, and there was simply no logical reason my husband shouldn’t have been able to get it.)

To make a long story short, the company reversed their decision. Plus, another company offered him life insurance. We went with the second company.

TIP: If you need an individual policy, work with an agent who has had many foreign clients or who is a foreigner himself or herself. Ours had not, and that was very obvious–I think it made him paranoid, so he may have “heard” our responses differently from how we actually gave them.

2 Responses to “Foreigners and Life Insurance”

  1. Insurance companies are run by Americans with a very provincial mindset who think that if you set foot outside of the US you run the risk of being gunned down or kidnapped. In fact, the US is often less safe than many other countries. On a fairly regular basis in the US some guy flips out and goes and shoots their co-workers or their entire family.

  2. Glad your husband was able to get life insurance! I didn’t know that companies would reject applicants just for being from another country!

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