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Insurance for Expats in the United Kingdom

Submitted: July 2013

A wide range of insurance products is available in the UK, and the UK promotes itself as a competitive jurisdiction for the insurance industry.

Expatriates may take out an international cover from a UK provider. Due to the wide range of products available, it is largely possible to tailor your insurance cover to your specific needs. If you are unclear about your cover or your needs whilst being in the UK, you might wish to check your existing insurance arrangements in your country of origin.

If your needs happen to be fairly specific, you might need a specialist insurance provider.

 

Home insurance

If you wish to insure your home, you may need a buildings insurance policy (for landlords) and/or a home contents insurance policy (for landlords and tenants). You can also apply for joint cover (buildings + contents cover).

Buildings insurance

A buildings insurance policy protects you against damage to your building. This may cover the costs of rebuilding your property from scratch or the costs of certain exceptional repairs, the alternative accommodation expenses while your property is rebuilt, and public liability if something happens in your home. “Fair wear and tear” (i.e. depreciation) isn’t covered by buildings insurance.

As for all insurance policies, it is up to you to decide how generous you want your cover to be, what the excess amounts are, which unexpected expenses are covered, etc.

You should normally check how much it costs to insure your building when you purchase property. If you are a leaseholder, the freeholder should insure the building. However, the cost may be passed on to the service charges. See Property Investment for Expats in the United Kingdom.

Typically, you cannot secure a mortgage unless you have buildings insurance. You become responsible for buildings insurance once “contracts are exchanged”, i.e. once there is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and the seller. A different timing may apply outside England.

Flood insurance

You should check how your home is at risk of being flooded. If applicable, you might wish to take out a separate flood insurance policy.

Contents insurance

A contents insurance policy covers your belongings. If you decide to cover them only partly, your insurance provider may make the corresponding apportionment when you submit a claim.

Example

Ann has personal possessions worth £50,000, but she is covered by her contents insurance policy for £10,000 only. Later on, Ann is burgled and loses £5,000 worth of possessions.

Ann will be able to claim no more than (10,000/50,000)*5,000 = £1,000.

 

Motor insurance

Under section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, you must have at least third party cover if you drive a car in the UK. You are guilty of an offence if you fail to do so. Typically, third party cover insures you against potential liabilities for car/property damage, or third party bodily injury.

If you bring your car from a foreign country, it is essential that you check the geographical cover of your insurance policy. This is particularly necessary if your car comes from outside Europe.

 

Other insurance

Private medical insurance (PMI)

Health insurance is not automatic in the UK, as healthcare is mainly provided through the National Health Service. See Health Insurance for Expats in the UK.

Life insurance

Life insurance is available in the UK. If you wish to use life insurance as an investment product, you can take out an “endowment policy”. If you already have a foreign endowment policy, you might wish to check how payouts are taxed in that country and in the UK. A qualified tax adviser or a wealth manager may help you explore this matter in greater detail. See Wealth Management for Expats in the UK.

Specialist insurance

To find a specialist insurance policy, you might wish to use a specialist insurance broker.

 

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We value input from our readers. If you spot an error on this page or have any suggestions, please let us know.

 

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