What is the MIB?

Previously known as the Medical Information Bureau, the MIB is a resource for insurance underwriters to assess risk and evaluate life insurance applications.

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By

Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

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When you apply for life insurance, one of the resources your insurance company uses to evaluate your risk during the underwriting process is called 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.” [1] It’s similar to a credit report for the life insurance process, and it helps prevent fraud and lower risk for insurance companies.

Key takeaways

  • The MIB is a resource used by life insurance underwriters to prevent application fraud.

  • Your personal medical information is coded and protected by HIPAA regulations.

  • You can request access to your MIB report for free at any time.

  • Most major insurance companies in the U.S. are part of the MIB.

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What is the Medical Information Bureau?

The MIB was founded in 1902 and works with life insurance companies to combat fraud by compiling information from previous life, health, disability, and long-term care insurance applications.

Underwriters use the MIB to verify that what you’ve disclosed on your current application is consistent with previous applications so they can set your premiums accurately. Your rates aren't solely based on your MIB report; it's mainly used to verify your medical history.

→ Learn more about buying life insurance

Who makes up the MIB?

The MIB consists of virtually every life insurance company in the United States and Canada (more than 800 companies). [2] Every insurer that belongs to the MIB can see what other underwriters already know about applicants. 

What information is in an MIB report?

An MIB report includes information about your life insurance applications over the last three to five years. Information found on an MIB report includes:

  • Date of any previous life insurance applications

  • Date of diagnosis or treatment for an illness

  • Known medical conditions

  • Types of treatment

  • Where the medical history came from

For example, if you had prostate cancer, underwent surgery, and previously applied for life insurance, your coded MIB records would show an underwriter that you had an operation, when it happened, and how that information was obtained (likely from an Attending Physician Statement).

The underwriter then uses 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.

→ Learn more about how life insurance underwriting works

How the MIB protects your privacy

To protect your personal information, the MIB doesn't keep your actual medical records on file. Instead, MIB information is coded — using the same codes as the broader medical industry, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) — and only includes "information that is significant to the underwriting process." There are no personal identifiers that could be used in identity theft. [3]

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. 

Checking your MIB Report

If you’ve previously bought or applied for insurance, you can request a copy of your MIB report online or by phone.

When you order a copy of your MIB Consumer File, it can include:

  • Medical and personal information requested, along with which insurance company requested it and when

  • 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), you have all of the rights available under the FCRA, including free copies of your MIB Consumer File.

Disputing your 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. [4]

Why life insurance companies use the MIB

Checking your application against MIB records helps your insurer combat fraud. Life insurers set your rates 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 and ask if you engage in any risky hobbies.

An MIB check ensures the insurance company isn’t giving lower rates to someone who, for example, used to smoke, but omitted that information from a current application. Properly evaluating someone helps keep costs in check, which benefits an insurer and its customers.

While independent life insurance brokers like Policygenius don’t have direct 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.

What is Human API?

If you'd like to get coverage as soon as possible, some insurance companies use Human API to speed up the underwriting process.

Human API can significantly speed up a life insurance application decision by pulling all of your medical records electronically, letting you skip the medical exam. But, only a handful of life insurance companies use Human API to underwrite applicants — and your doctors also have to use the platform for it to work.

What if my insurer or medical provider doesn’t use Human API?

Even if you’re unable to use Human API to fast track your life insurance application, you can still get quick coverage. Instant decision life insurance policies like the Brighthouse SimplySelect policy don’t require a medical exam and, similarly to Human API, pull your records while you’re on the phone applying (with your consent).

Some applications require further investigation, but if your application is approved, your life insurance coverage can go in force almost immediately after your phone call.

If you’re not eligible for an instant decision life insurance policy, you also have the option of getting a no-medical-exam life insurance policy. The application uses your previous records to evaluate your health, but doesn’t do so instantly. No-medical-exam policies tend to take the same time as traditional life insurance policies to retrieve and analyze your previous records, so you’ll still have to wait to get coverage. To make sure your loved ones are financially protected in the interim, you can get temporary coverage.

Frequently asked questions

What does the MIB do?

The MIB collects data about previous life insurance applications so insurance companies can compare information and ensure rates are accurate.

Can you request your MIB report?

Under Fair Credit Reporting Act regulations, you can request your MIB record for free directly from the MIB.

Who can access MIB information?

MIB reports are available to insurance underwriters, and your record is available to you. MIB records are coded for privacy and protected under HIPAA.

Does an MIB report delay the life insurance application process?

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 process.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. MIB

    . "

    The Facts About MIB's Underwriting Services

    ." Accessed February 22, 2022.

  2. Insurance Information Institute

    (III). "

    Facts + Statistics: Industry overview

    ." Accessed February 22, 2022.

  3. MIB

    . "

    Straight Talk About MIB's Underwriting Services

    ." Accessed February 22, 2022.

  4. MIB

    . "

    How to Dispute Your MIB Underwriting Services Consumer File

    ." Accessed February 22, 2022.

Author

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

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