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Foreign Nationals: A Power-Packed Sales Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight

Have recent changes in estate-tax thresholds made it harder to close larger, permanent-case domestic life insurance sales? If so, now’s the time to consider selling to Foreign Nationals, a vast, lucrative and virtually untapped market hiding in plain sight.

Who is a Foreign National?

A Foreign National is a person who is a non-U.S. citizen or NRA (Non-Resident Alien). Additionally, a U.S. carrier may offer a broader definition, such as U.S. citizens living abroad or persons who do significant foreign travel. For carrier purposes, eligible prospects generally have the following attributes:

  • Have spent time in the U.S.
  • Have a financial interest in the U.S., which could include owning U.S. property; having a U.S. brokerage account; being a business owner who comes to the U.S. to transact business; or being a full-time college student living and/or working in the U.S.

How Big is the Market Opportunity? 

The Foreign National market is large, lucrative and underserved. For example:

  • Foreign born residents of the U.S. now represent in 13% of the U.S. population — about 40 million people.
  • Wealth in the Asia-Pacific region surpassed that of North America three years ago, and the margin is increasing. There are more high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients from this region as compared to North America. Further, Asia has many more millionaires.
  • Foreign investment in the U.S. is growing. Overseas investors account for over 20% of investments in U.S. stocks and 43% of investments in our debt.
  • In excess of $100 billon of U.S. residential real estate is purchased yearly by Foreign Nationals living outside of the U.S.
  • More than 10 percent of foreign buyers paid $1million and over for their property compared to less than three percent in this price range among all U.S. existing single-family home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.  

Why U.S. Life Insurance?

In today’s global economy, many high-net-worth (HNW) clients live abroad but have ties to the U.S. These cross-border arrangements create unique financial planning needs and opportunities that few financial advisors can navigate.

For example, for Foreign Nationals, only the first $60,000 of U.S. situs assets are exempt for U.S. estate taxes (for additional details please download and review our Foreign National Tax Guide below). However, Foreign Nationals can often purchase policies on themselves, and the death benefit will not be subject to U.S. income or estate taxes. This means that non-resident Foreign Nationals with a taxable U.S. estate can buy and personally own an insurance policy on themselves as opposed to a trust, without inflating the size of their taxable U.S. estates.

Once you do a deeper dive, chances are you’ll discover an endless array of planning needs, including:


Clients who are planning to move to the U.S. may want to take advantage of the tax benefits afforded to them as non-residents. Life insurance can provide a way to leverage those benefits.

International wealth transfer
Many global clients have children in the U.S. and want to help ensure a successful financial future by transferring assets from their home country into the U.S.

Business planning
Wealthy global clients are often successful business owners. Life insurance can provide liquidity for estate equalization, for business transfer, or to protect against the loss of a key person.

Estate planning
Noncitizen spouses may have a need to plan for first-death U.S. estate taxation. Other clients may be dealing with forced heirship laws. Still others may have to plan for inheritance or death taxes in other countries.

How Highland Capital Brokerage Can Help

Success in this market requires having a partner that has the knowledge and expertise you can rely on to help guide you to sales success.

Underwriting Team.  We navigate the myriad perspectives between clinical medicine and underwriting risk assessment. That gives your clients a competitive advantage in the market by:

  • Maximizing access to specialized products developed for the Foreign National market
  • Advocating for and securing the desired amount of protection
  • Negotiating competitive pricing and underwriting
  • Mitigating extra requirements
  • Packaging & preparing cases for market
  • Coordinating medical, non-medical and administrative requirements with the carriers
  • Composing cover letters to support the case for the desired outcome. This is a critical piece of the process and highly valued by our carrier partners.

Risk Assessment. Our talented team of professionally trained underwriters have priority access to insurance company medical directors and third-party medical providers. We assess mortality and morbidity risk in advance of sending your case to the insurance provider.

Jumbo & Complex Underwriting. We are experts in procuring coverage for “jumbo” cases. Our team is equipped to address the complexities of new replacement policies. We carefully manage the requirements and limitations of carrier retention and reinsurance to maximize coverage and address client goals.

Custom-Tailored Solutions. We provide custom-tailored solutions, even where your Foreign National client does not have a U.S. “Nexus” or other connection. Coverage can be provided through Manulife Bermuda, Pan-American Life, Sun Life Bermuda and other carriers.

Act Today!

While changes in U.S tax law may have reduced the domestic need for large life insurance policies, there is a growing need among Foreign Nationals. Moreover, the number of global millionaires (non-U.S.) and ultra-high-net-worth individuals has tripled over the past 20 years, far outpacing the growth of U.S.-based millionaires.

For more information about how you can take advantage of this lucrative and growing market, visit

Download Now

Complete the form below to access Highland’s Foreign National Tax Guide.

This material does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice and neither Highland Capital Brokerage nor any of its agents, employees or registered representatives are in the business of offering such advice. It was not intended or written for use and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any IRS penalty. It was written to support the marketing of the transactions or topics it addresses. Anyone interested in these transactions or topics should seek advice based on his or her particular circumstances from independent professional advisors.

This page is intended for agents and representatives only, and not to inform members of the general public. The information provided in the agents’ testimonials above may not be indicative of the experience of any end clients. The experiences and opinions are those of the financial professionals only. Securities by licensed Individuals Offered Through Investacorp, Inc. A Registered Broker/ Dealer. Member FINRA, SIPC. Advisory Services Offered Through Investacorp Advisory Services, Inc. A SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm. Highland Capital Brokerage is not affiliated with Investacorp or Investacorp Advisory Services. Not all of the individuals listed on this site are registered to offer Securities products or Advisory services through Investacorp and Investacorp Advisory Services. Investacorp and Investacorp Advisory Services does not offer tax or legal advice. This site is published for residents of the United States only. Registered Representatives and Investment Advisor Representatives of Investacorp and Investacorp Advisory Services may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

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About the Author

Michael Sapyta, Vice President, Advanced Planning, advises Highland Capital Brokerage producers on building customized wealth transfer solutions – from advanced plan design to implementation of sales concepts with integrated life insurance solutions.

He can be reached at 610.945.1235 or via email



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