Why do life insurance companies need your Social Security number?

Insurers use sensitive information, including your Social Security number and driver's license, to confirm your identity and prevent fraud.

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Rebecca ShoenthalEditor & Licensed Life Insurance ExpertRebecca 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.&Tory CrowleyAssociate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentTory Crowley is an associate editor and a former licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

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Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Updated|3 min read

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When you apply for life insurance, you’ll be asked to share private details about your health, finances, and overall background, including your Social Security number (SSN) and driver’s license number. An underwriter uses this personal information to assign you a risk classification and verify your identity before offering you a policy.

Since identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) [1] , it can naturally be alarming when you're asked to share your SSN with anyone.

In order for life insurance companies to properly identify you, sharing your SSN and driver’s license numbers is necessary.

Insurers and brokers like Policygenius take information security very seriously and take rigid measures to protect your privacy and keep your information secure.

Key takeaways

  • Most insurance companies require a Social Security number to apply, but some companies will accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead. You’ll also need a driver’s license or state issued identification.

  • An insurer can legally decline your application if you refuse to provide identification.

  • Make sure you’re working with a licensed insurance broker or agent to prevent fraud or identity theft.

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Why do life insurance companies need your Social Security number?

There are five main reasons life insurance companies require your SSN.

  1. To confirm your identity and prevent fraud Insurance companies need to make sure you are who you say you are.

  2. To check the MIB The MIB (formerly the Medical Information Bureau) keeps records of all of your life insurance applications. Its a cost-effective way to weed out bad actors — like those who misrepresented themselves to another life insurance company — early on. The MIB uses Social Security numbers to track this information.

  3. To check with any prescription drug databases in your state It’s not uncommon for an applicant to underestimate how a previous or managed health condition can affect the risk profile that the insurer uses to price a policy. Checking a prescription drug database is a quick way for the insurer to look for this sort of data that an applicant might honestly forget to mention on the application.

  4. To check your credit report Insurance companies may also check your credit report for any recent bankruptcies or other anomalies to help them estimate the level of risk.

  5. To check your criminal record If you’ve indicated that you have a criminal record in your past, the insurer might use your SSN to check whether theres anything recent that could affect the risk profile.

SSNs are a reliable and universal way to verify your identity. Underwriters also use your SSN to check if you’ve recently applied for life insurance elsewhere.

Your number is tied to your identity across industries and can be used for everything from confirming your GPA from college to checking your credit score to verifying court records.

Why do life insurance companies need your driver’s license number?

Insurers use your driver’s license number to verify your driving record through motor vehicle reports, or MVRs.

Insurers will use these reports to check for things like speeding tickets, DUIs, at-fault accidents, and license suspensions in your driving history.

Because insurers want to see how risky you are to insure, they’ll use this information to help determine your final life insurance rates — but you won’t need to provide any of this information to get free life insurance quotes online.

Your driver’s license number may also be used along with your SSN to help verify your identity since most states require your SSN before issuing you a driver’s license.

→ Learn more about the average cost of life insurance per month

How to prevent fraud and identity theft when applying for insurance

If someone asks for your SSN or other sensitive information, have them verify their phone number or email address with your records.

If the phone number is different from the insurance company or broker’s main number, hang up and call their office to ensure a secure connection.

Always check before clicking on any suspicious links over email. Most insurers will ask for identification over the phone or in-person during the medical exam that’s a standard component of the life insurance application process.

If you suspect fraudulent activity, you can file a complaint or report with any of the following entities:

Can the insurance company legally require that I share my SSN and driver’s license number?

Yes, life insurance companies can legally require your driver’s license and Social Security numbers before extending a policy offer.

You always have the option to refuse their request, in which case, the insurance company can decline to sell you a policy.

In other words, it’s legal for the insurer to ask for sensitive information and it’s legal for you to refuse to oblige. Just know you might be forfeiting your ability to get insurance coverage.

→ Learn more about how to buy life insurance

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What if I don’t have an SSN or driver’s license?

Though many life insurance companies require a Social Security number to apply, there are some that will accept other forms of identification.

For example, most visa and green card holders may apply for life insurance and alternative forms of identification during the application process. Each company has its own requirements for acceptance.

Alternative forms of identification include:

  • A visa or green card

  • A state ID card or non-driver photo ID card 

  • Employment authorization document (EAD)

  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

  • W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting)

If you don’t have a driver’s license because you don’t drive, then you can still apply for life insurance with another form of identification, like a state I.D. or passport.

But if you don’t have a driver’s license because it was suspended or revoked, then there’s a higher chance your application will be postponed until your driver’s license is reinstated.

More about the life insurance application process

Frequently asked questions

Do you need a Social Security number for life insurance?

Most insurance companies require a Social Security number to help verify your identity. If you don’t have a SSN, some companies may accept other forms of identification, such as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

How will my beneficiary know to claim the death benefit?

It’s in your best interest to make sure the beneficiary on your life insurance policy knows they have been named. You should also share the name of the insurance company with them and your policy number. We also recommend listing out your beneficiary’s middle name and SSN to help them claim the death benefit more easily.

If you think you’re the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, you can check online tools, such as NAIC’s Life Insurance Policy Locator Service. Having the deceased’s SSN can help speed up this process.

How can I report suspected life insurance fraud or identity theft?

If you suspect you’re the victim of life insurance fraud, you should contact your local FBI office, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), or the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF).

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 oureditorial standards.

  1. Identity Theft

    . "

    Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number SSA.gov

    ." Accessed March 27, 2023.

Authors

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.

Tory Crowley is an associate editor and a former licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

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