Category: Life Insurance Blog
What is the Medical Information Bureau?
September 26, 2017 Richard Reich
The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) provides a collection of private medical and non-medical (hazardous avocations, hobbies, and driving violations) data. The primary purpose of the MIB is to furnish the exchange of underwriting information between its member companies. Member companies are compelled to report a coded summary of conditions and conclusions which may be important to the proposed insured’s health or life expectancy thereby helping to minimize risk and reduce costs. The MIB also warns members if the applicant has just recently applied for life insurance with other insurers – this helps protect against over-insurance.
When does the Medical Information Bureau obtain the Information?
When a prospective insured’s application is presented to one of the MIB member companies, any information that is considered significant (whether admitted on the application or discovered during underwriting), is transmitted securely to the MIB if they believe the details are pertinent to the applicant’s health or vitality.
How are codes are used by the MIB?
The insurance applicant’s information that is transmitted to the MIB is done so in a coded and encrypted format making sure that the sensitive information is completely protected. These special codes consist of the category of the impairment (such as cardiac, cancer, etc.), the origin of the critical information [such as an Attending Physician Statement (APS), inspection reports, insurance medical exam, insurance application, etc.], and the estimated date of the specific information.
A sample of a code – The applicant had a heart attack in 1980 which was listed in his medical records. A code would then be transmitted to the MIB with the appropriate information: heart history, 1980, found in APS.
Do the MIB codes Reveal the Carrier and the Underwriting Decision?
The codes in the MIB database do not identify the particular insurer that transmitted the code or what the final underwriting action (such as decline, rating, or postponement) was taken by the insurer. Medical Information Bureau guidelines state that no insurer can take underwriting action using the MIB code alone.
Codes function only as an alert to potential substantial underwriting facts – it is up to the insurance company’s underwriters to examine this important information before making the ultimate decision. MIB does not and will not preserve or hold on to any records, exams or other sensitive information.
FAQs from Consumers
Most insurance applicants aren’t even aware of the MIB (even though they consent to an MIB search) unless some negative information is returned and affects their application and rates. Therefore, the most frequent questions asked by insurance applicants are typically based on an MIB report interfering with the underwriting process.
- Is every life insurance company a member of the Medical Information Bureau?
Membership is not required, and a list of members is difficult to locate. Only member companies can use the data maintained by the MIB.
2. What if there is an error in my file, can I dispute it?
Certainly, even though computer databases are highly reliable, the data is normally entered by humans who can make mistakes. If you would like to review your information contained in the MIB database, you can request a report online by clicking here, or you can call the MIB at 1-866-692-6901.
- How long does my information remain in the database?
The MIB only keeps codes regarding your health for seven years, after that, they are purged.
- Will an insurer send codes to the MIB based on an informal application?
They do not. Only formal applications that have been signed will be coded by the member insurance company.
- Does the MIB have my actual medical records on file?
The MIB database does not contain medical records such as lab results, diagnostic testing, physician statements, or underwriting files and reasons for insurance denials.
The company does, however, keep “codes” furnished by insurers which represent information that is important to the underwriting process. The stored codes are encrypted so that they would be useless to any non-member third party.
- Do the MIB, and their member companies require my authorization to send or retrieve this information?
Yes. The insurer must provide the applicant with a MIB pre-notice that describes the MIB’s role in the underwriting process. This notice must be signed by the applicant before any information about them can be shared between the member company and the MIB.
- Does every insurance applicant have a file at the MIB?
Applicants that have a file at the MIB must have applied for an individual (not group) life, health, disability income, long-term care, or critical illness insurance within the last seven years of the current application. The companies where the application was applied for must have been a member of the MIB at the time of the application.
- Can the MIB share my information with without my consent?
No, the MIB can only release your data if your signed authorization is transmitted to the company by a member company.
- Is a fee charged by the MIB to get a copy of my file?
The MIB will provide a copy of your file (if you have one) at no charge once per year.
- Does the MIB have information regarding my application when it comes to my application being approved, denied, or rated?
The MIB’s database only contains codes regarding health conditions that may affect your insurability. They do not have the information regarding the disposition of your application,
Talk to your Independent Agent about the MIB
Your independent insurance agent will help you understand the process of your underwriting and will offer guidance if your application was rated or denied because of information in the MIB.