When you apply for life insurance, you go through the underwriting process. This is when the insurance company determines how risky you are to insure based on things like your age, your current health, your medical history, your driving record, and more.
One of their resources? The MIB.
Formerly known as the “Medical Information Bureau,” MIB Group, Inc. (or simply MIB) checks records to uncover "errors, omissions or misrepresentations made on insurance applications." It’s similar to a credit report for the life insurance process, and it helps prevent fraud, risk, and increased costs.
The MIB is a resource used by life insurance underwriters to prevent application fraud
You can request access to your MIB report for free at any time
Most major insurers in the U.S. are part of the MIB
Your personal medical information is coded and protected by HIPAA regulations
The MIB was founded in 1902 to work with life insurance companies to combat fraud. They do this by compiling information from previous life, health, disability, or long-term care insurance applications. So if you’ve never previously applied for these types of insurance, there won’t be any records for you in the MIB.
For those concerned about privacy, there’s no need for alarm. Instead of keeping actual medical records on file, the MIB information is coded in a way that "represents medical and avocational information that is significant to the underwriting process" and there are no personal identifiers that could be used in identity theft. The MIB codes used are the same as the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes used in the broader medical industry.
Your information isn’t submitted to the underwriter without your permission, and everything falls under HIPAA regulations. You have to sign a HIPAA waiver for insurers to access your information and they cannot sell or share any personal information.
Underwriters use the MIB to verify information so that when they’re setting your premium rates, they can be sure that what you’ve disclosed on your current application is consistent with previous applications.
It’s important to note that MIB information is just one part of the larger picture. Underwriters don’t make any decisions based solely on the MIB report; instead, they use it to verify your medical history so their final assessment is as accurate as possible.
The MIB consists of virtually every life insurance company in the United States and Canada (close to 800 companies). Every insurer that belongs to the MIB can see what other underwriters already know about applicants.
An MIB report covers your life insurance applications over the previous three to five years. It also compiles health information that you either left out of your application or wasn’t made apparent to the underwriter via other means (like the medical exam).
The type of information that comes through an MIB report request includes:
The date of any previous life insurance applications
When medical conditions were diagnosed and/or treated
Types of treatment
Where the medical history came from
For example, if you’ve had prostate cancer, underwent surgery, and previously applied for life insurance, that information would be in your MIB record.
If you’re applying for life insurance again, the current underwriter would learn from the coded MIB records that you’ve had a previous operation, when it happened, and how that information was obtained (likely from an Attending Physician Statement (APS)).
The underwriter can then use that in conjunction with other information – the medical exam, additional physician statements, a prescription check – to make sure that everything matches up and the current application isn’t missing any pertinent pieces of your health history.
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Life insurers and underwriters determine how much your insurance premiums will cost based on how risky you are to insure – how likely you are to die during your coverage period. That’s why they pull documents like motor vehicle reports and health records from your doctor; they want to see what your health has looked like and if you engage in any risky hobbies.
Of course, applying for life insurance previously isn’t necessarily a bad thing; maybe you decided after applying that it wasn’t in your budget, or you decided to go with a different insurance company.
MIB records don’t even show if you were previously declined coverage. Rather they show pertinent information from previous applications that the current insurer needs to know when determining your risk.
By doing this, the insurer helps combat fraud. This ensures the insurance company isn’t giving lower rates to someone who, for example, used to smoke tobacco and put that on a previous application, but omitted that information from a current application. Properly rating someone helps keep costs in check – which is good for the insurers and good for their customers.
Wondering what’s on your MIB report? Much like a free annual credit report, if you’ve previously bought or applied for insurance, you can request your own copy here or call 866-692-6901 so you can take a look and not be surprised by anything the next time you apply.
When you order a copy of your MIB Consumer File, it may include:
Medical and personal information requested, along with which insurance company requested it, and when.
The name of any insurance company that made an inquiry or received a copy of your file.
Information in the MIB’s Disability Insurance Record System (“DIRS”) for anyone who has applied for disability income insurance.
Because the MIB falls under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) , users have all of the same rights available under the FCRA, including free copies of their MIB Consumer File.
FCRA protections also allow you to dispute your file if you feel anything is misrepresented. You can request a free “reinvestigation” from the MIB noting anything that you think is inaccurate or incomplete. This can take up to 45 days to complete.
Note that while independent life insurance brokers like Policygenius don’t have access to your MIB file, we can advocate for you and work with multiple insurance companies to make sure you get the best rates possible when you apply for life insurance.
The MIB’s purpose is to protect insurance underwriters against fraud. It helps keep premium costs in check for insurance companies and consumers.
The MIB collects data about previous life insurance applications so insurance companies can compare information and ensure rates are accurate.
Depending on the information in your report, the insurance company might need further details from you to clarify any medical conditions. This can delay your application underwriting process.