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MIB Medical Information Bureau

Researcher & Writer
September 16, 2017

Whether you choose to go the traditional paramedical exam route or choose simplified issue life insurance or accelerated underwriting, most carriers are going to do a background check, which includes looking at the Medical Information Bureau, or MIB.

What is the MIB (Medical Information Bureau)?

 Owned by the members, the MIB Group (Medical Information Bureau) is a membership corporation, which has been in business since the beginning of the 1902 that operates within the United States and Canada. However, they’re a non-profit entity and the underwriting services they provide have been used exclusively by all member life insurance companies for a number of years.

Available for all member health and life insurance companies, these underwriting services set the standard for assessing all risk and eligibility during the application process.

In addition to health and life policies, they also cover critical illness, long-term care, and disability income policies. With these services in place, all errors made during the application process are highlighted and can be brought to light. If the applicant made omissions or misrepresentations, this may also be discovered for the insurer.

By using this system, the risk of errors, misrepresentations, and omissions is reduced and this allows for all life and health insurance to be kept at a respectable cost. The more fraud that creeps into the system, due to those who chose to lie on their life insurance application, would cause harm to the honest applicants, skyrocketing life insurance quotes as a result.

So you can give some credit to the MIB for helping keep costs down for life insurance.

Why is the MIB Group Used?

At this stage, you might be wondering why the MIB is actually used and it all comes down to assessing risk. As we’ve said many times before, the only fact insurance companies care about is the risk you provide if a policy was to be opened.

You see, when they ask questions, and put you through a life insurance medical examination, this is all done so the company can assess your risk and whether you’re likely to die within the next few years.

Which is why carriers take blood and urine samples, they want to make sure you're as healthy as you think and say you are.

Now, while the majority of people are honest with their applications, there are a few that will lie in order to receive a better premium or to prevent being rejected from the coverage completely.

For example, knowing that tobacco use and life insurance are poor bedfellows, people tend to lie about using tobacco to pay less each month.

Furthermore, some may fail a marijuana drug test with an insurer even though the best choice would have been to admit using it.

If you’ve applied for life insurance previously, this won’t count against you because you might have decided against the policy before going ahead. However, insurance companies still need to know whether important information has been uncovered before so this old exam is available.

Ultimately, this is to limit the risk of fraud otherwise someone could consistently lie and take advantage of the system. With this shared bank of data, there’s some control over the application system.

How is the MIB Used?

With this in mind, how does the MIB actually track information? Well, a certain percentage of us could have an MIB report to our name and this shows all your life insurance applications within a period of six months. If you left medical information out of your application or didn't make it apparent, this information may be available in the MIB report.

For companies who receive an application from yourself, they’ll have access to certain information including medical impairments, dates of previous applications, any treatments of conditions, diagnosis dates of conditions, and the source of your medical history.

If you underwent surgery for prostate cancer, the underwriter would have uncovered this after an application. By taking a simple look at your medical history, this now becomes active information and it’ll sit on your Medical Information Bureau report.

When you apply for life insurance for a second time, the new underwriter can see when the surgery took place and how this information was brought to light; for example, it could be an Attending Physician Statement (APS). Once this has been combined with the medical history, a check on prescriptions, and other physician statements, the underwriter can use all information to ensure the application is accurate.

Disability Income Record Service (DIRS)

If you are applying for short term disability insurance or long term disability insurance, the DIRS works by combining a DIRS inquiry with a MIB Checking Service inquiry. This allows disability income insurance companies to get a snapshot of a potential insured's being over-insured and an applicant's health status at the same time.

Is Information Secure with the MIB?

With scammers and hackers seemingly common within society, there has been numerous concerns for the security and safety of this information in recent times. With medical records readily accessible, this information can be used in identify theft crimes and this is why the MIB only provides details in a coded format. At all times, the information is kept in coded format which means that, if anyone were to gain access to files, it would be completely useless to them.

Within the Medical Information Bureau and all member companies, only authorized personnel will have access to the information. Before requesting a report, this person must state their authorization otherwise the information simply will not be released.

And to add to this, MIB has some of the highest levels of security within the US protecting the data. Over time, these security standards have been optimized to offer the best protection possible.

Can Consumers Access Information?

If you’re like most, you’re probably wondering whether you can access your own report. Through the MIB you can view your own report which has been allowed for many years to allow a certain fairness with the system. For some reason, this has been a misconception for some time now but you can access your own report (assuming there is one, of course!).

According to MIB, you will not have a MIB Consumer File unless you have applied for an individually underwritten life or health insurance in the last seven years.

After visiting the Medical Information Bureau, you can make a request for your report and you won’t have to pay a penny. However, there is one big limit and this is the fact you can only access MIB files once a year. And once again, If you haven't applied for a fully underwritten life insurance policy, it should be noted that you won’t have a report with the MIB.

Pro tip: If you have not had a recent medical exam you might want to consider going the route of no exam vs exam coverage. Get the desired coverage in place and then take an exam if you want to try and get a cheaper life insurance rate. But the key is you will have coverage in place and avoid getting a surprise on your paramedical exam.

Over time, the MIB and their reporting system has only improved in terms of accuracy. According to a recent report, only 1-2% of reports require amendments after consumer checks.

The information is generally trustworthy and this is why it now bears huge responsibility within one of the biggest markets in world business; life and health insurance.

What to do if you spot an issue

However rare, accidents and mistakes do happen so what should you do if something in your file is wrong? Of course, this can have a massive impact on all future life insurance applications so you’ll need to inform the MIB. Since the introduction of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, this occurrence now has set rules and you’ll be put through a ‘re-investigation’ process.

Through the MIB website, you can request a reinvestigation and you’ll need to sign a Request for Reinvestigation form. Since you’ll genuinely believe there’s a mistake in your report, you won’t have to pay anything to get this process started.

This being said, you will have to provide certain information including your full name, date of birth, address, place of birth, a section of your Social Security number, and information pertaining to the false information.

Once this has been provided, the reinvestigation process can commence. Involved in the process, the reporting insurance company will be investigated to ensure correct information. If there was an error in the system, the ‘reporting’ insurance company will return with no issues and the accuracy of your report will be determined.

Soon after the reinvestigation process has come to an end, you’ll be contacted the results through mail. Although the average waiting time is around 45 days, there are certain things you can do to speed up the process and this includes providing medical records, following all instructions as provided, and always double-checking to ensure the error definitely exists.

Information Exchange

With the interesting business model the Medical Information Bureau offers, the most common descriptive term is an ‘information exchange’ because all members contribute information that proves to be important for all other members. As mentioned previously, there is heavy security guarding the data which means that safety is never really an issue. Considering the MIB has been in business for over 115 years, it’s probably time to trust their efforts in the market.

Find Lost Life Insurance

Another great service offered by MIB is helping you find a lost life insurance policy. You can go to the site and read through its checklist for locating a lost policy. You can also enroll in the company's policy locator services.

The service provided is a great help to anyone who is on a search for a lost policy. You will need to be an administrator, trustee or executor of the decedent's estate.

The service does have a few limitations

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