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Not a terribly cheery subject this one but something that all expats really should consider and make provision for to save additional stress for your loved ones down the line if a terrible event should occur. Unfortunately death does not take your location or finances into account when it strikes. According to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), 6,000 Britons die abroad each year. While many of these will be tourists, some will be expats living away from home on a long term basis.
Different countries have very different attitudes to death both culturally and from a legal point of view, and the processes involved when someone passes away will vary accordingly. In certain Islamic countries, a body must be buried within 24 hours whereas this is not the case in many western nations. Embalming is the norm in many parts of the world but rare in others and standards will vary considerably. The EU has largely standardised the procedures for cross-border transportation of bodies but there are many obstacles to be faced by the families of those who die on other continents where different rules may apply to the transportation of cadavers.
The first port of call if someone close to you dies abroad is your consulate. They have individuals dedicated to assisting in these situations and can put you in touch with companies who specialise in the repatriation of mortal remains. The consulate can also advise you on the necessary paperwork you will need to repatriate a body including a death certificate, an embalming certificate, a “sealing of the coffin” certificate and a “free from infection” certificate.
Of course should you meet your maker when abroad, your consulate will sadly not bear the cost associated with getting your body home. Transporting mortal remains in a hermetically sealed coffin is significantly more expensive than transporting a living, breathing human being and may take weeks rather than days. Two women went to the extremes of trying to fly their dead husband/father home to Germany from the UK as a passenger to avoid paying these fees!
Expats can spare their loved ones from having to resort to such extreme measures by having a comprehensive health insurance policy in place which covers repatriation in the event of death. When someone passes away, the paperwork, medical costs, mortuary fees and embalming costs can add up and it is reassuring for both you and your family to know that these will be covered should the unexpected happen to you. You can discuss a suitable policy for you and your family with any of our advisors.
To find out more about expat insurance needs click on the image above or get in touch to speak with a qualified consultant.