Retirement is hard to plan for when you really don’t know when you will stop work, how long you will live and how much you need to fund your lifestyle. These unanswerable questions make your finances in retirement are far from certain.
For many, the reason for saving is to set aside as much money as possible over the years to at least give yourself options in later life.
For expats, the complication is most financial services are offered within strictly regulated jurisdictions and moving between them means opening and closing accounts and often losing hard-earned money. That’s where expat savings plans like the Zurich Vista Savings Plan have an advantage
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Review of Zurich Vista Savings Plan
The Zurich Vista Savings Plan comes with several advantages for expats looking to build a nest-egg for retirement.
You are in control of your savings from the start.
Expats can decide how often, how much and for how long they want to save.
The rewards are more than seeing your money grow, as Zurich pays a welcome bonus, a loyalty bonus every five years and a maturity bonus at the end of the plan.
Along the way, you can take money out or call a halt to saving for a while by taking a payment holiday.
Expats can tailor the policy to their needs with flexible investments in a wide range of funds and choose add-ons, such as life cover and accidental death benefit.
The trend is for more people to make provision for their later years as governments can only afford to cover basic living costs and carer with state pensions and benefits.
The questions then become when is the best time to start saving and how should you save?
Where you live or how many times you move countries doesn’t matter, the plan works away in the background and allows expats to take control of their financial future.
When it comes to saving for retirement, few can afford not to start saving now
Who are Zurich?
Zurich Insurance Group is one of the world’s largest financial services companies with nearly 55,000 employees serving 210 countries.
The company specialises in property, health and life insurance for individuals, businesses and multinational corporations.
The company takes pride in putting customers at the heart of the business by meeting and exceeding expectations, improving customer relationships and investing in innovation.
What is the Zurich Vista Savings Plan?
The engine driving your savings is an international life assurance policy running over a fixed number of years, but designed for the medium to long term with a set minimum premium.
The aim is to provide a cash lump sum at the end of the term, although the value depends on how your investments are managed throughout the life of the policy.
The policy also pays out on the death of the life or lives assured.
Benefits for expats
- Provides a structure to manage regular saving
- Comes with bonuses paid along the way to encourage loyalty
- Comes with a flexible term and premium level, subject to minimums
- Available in a range of major currencies
- Allows single payments on top of regular contributions
- Access your cash through regular drawdowns, part surrender or full surrender of the policy
- Useful add-ons help in unemployment , illness or if accident or disability strike
- Offers a selection of investment funds
- Pays a cash lump sum if the life or lives insured die before the policy matures
The Zurich Vista Savings Plan comes with three optional add-ons –
- Accidental death benefit -This option must selected from the start and offered free. The payment is triggered by the life insured dying as the result of an accident, including drowning. The maximum benefit is $50,000.
- Additional life cover -Available if the policy is started before the age of 60 and must be selected from the policy start date. The level of cover depends on the premium paid on the policy, subject to a maximum of $360,000.
- Waiver of premium -Available at any time up to the life insured’s 60th The benefit kicks in if the life insured cannot work due to illness or disability until a return to work, their 70thbirthday or the policy matures.
The Zurich Vista Savings Plan lasts for a minimum five years and must start between the policy owner’s 18thand 74thbirthdays and must end no later than their 80thbirthday.
Slightly different age rules apply for lives insured or joint lives on the policy.
Some add-ons end earlier – for example, waiver of premium stops when the life insured reaches 70 years old; accidental death benefit ends at age 65 and any additional life cover stops when the life insured dies.
Expats can choose to denominate the savings plan in the following major currencies –
- US dollar (USD)
- Euro (EUR)
- GB Pounds (GBP)
- United Arab Emirates dirham (AED)
- Bahraini dinar (BHD)
- Qatari riyal (QAR)
Regular premiums are available monthly, quarterly, half yearly or annually, while single premiums are accepted to start the policy or any time within the term.
Regular premiums are collected by cheque, credit card direct debit, or standing order.
The minimum single premium to start a policy is $12,000, while additional single premiums can be $6,000 or over.
Minimum savings limit
The minimum amount you can save with the plan is US$300 a month, which adds up to $3,600 a year. Premiums are also allowed quarterly, with a $900 minimum or half yearly, with a $1,800 minimum
Zurich rewards consistent saving with several bonus payments:
- Welcome bonus -Paid in the first 12 months and based on the level of contributions
- Loyalty bonus -Paid every five years, providing no agreed premiums are missed or if the policy is marked as paid-up or lapsed.
The bonus is based on a refund of a proportion of management charges over the term of the policy.
- Maturity bonus -Paid on the same terms as the loyalty bonus at the policy maturity date.
The loyalty and maturity bonus are both calculated as a percentage of management charges less any prior bonus paid.
The Zurich Vista Savings Plan offers investors the opportunity to put money in up to 30 funds at any time.
The funds include low-risk, managed and mirror funds.
Expats can self-manage their investments or appoint an adviser to manage their funds for them.
Expats can check the value of their policy and research funds at any time online
The plan comes with an unemployment holiday, for expats who get made redundant, for up to four months.
Premiums can be decreased, but this might impact the amount of bonus paid.
The Zurich Vista Savings Plan comes with a range of charges – but how much you pay depends on how the policy is personally configured.
Besides monthly policy charges and a yearly management charge, extra costs are applied for savers who opted for add-ons, like accidental death benefit or waiver of premium.
Other charges are made for making a policy paid-up, early surrender and costs related to changing the policy or investments, such as switching currencies the policy is denominated in or asking Zurich to pay a fund manager from your premiums.
Access to cash
Withdrawals are taken in one of three ways:
- Regular drawdown -These are allowed every month, three months, half yearly or annually for a minimum $500 and providing the policy retains a minimum surrender value of $5,000.
- Part surrender -a minimum $1,000 and a maximum of the lower of the total value of accumulation units or 70% of the policy surrender value.
- Full surrender -The value depends on the term, how long the policy has run and the value of the funds.
Other Savings Plan Options
Looking for other saving plans options while living life as an expat? Read our other reviews of regular savings plans:
- Generali Vision Savings Plan
- Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan
- RL360 Quantum Savings Plan
The question is not do I need the Zurich Vista Savings Plan, but more can you afford not to take out a policy. The plan is an excellent savings vehicle for the long-term that enhances rather than replaces a pension. The plan’s portability is a great benefit for expats with a mobile lifestyle, allowing them to continue to save wherever they live, even if they are only there for the shortest of times. The plan also offers families security, knowing that in times of illness or disability, their finances are covered by extra benefits.