What is the Medical Information Bureau you may ask?
When applying for life insurance coverage, there is a variety of information that the insurance carrier will require. In addition to your name, age, and gender, the company also needs to know about your health and health history, such as do you have diabetes or is there a history of diabetes in your family, as well as any other potential risks that you may pose in terms of the company having to pay out a claim.
While life insurance companies will typically ask for a great deal of information via the application for coverage, it may also go out to other sources to obtain additional details on your background. One such source is the Medical Information Bureau or MIB.
What is the Medical Information Bureau?
In addition to the information that is provided on your life insurance application for coverage, as well as the medical examination that you may be required to take, many life insurance companies will also obtain additional details about you via the Medical Information Bureau.
The Medical Information Bureau – also referred to as MIB Group today – is a member-owned corporation that has operated as a non-profit entity for over 100 years in the United States and Canada. The MIB Group’s underwriting services are often used in assessing an applicant’s risk and eligibility during the underwriting of life, as well as health insurance coverage.
The primary goal of the Medical Information Bureau is to help in ensuring that insurance companies can offer and that consumers can obtain – more affordable life and health insurance coverage. This, then, can help with maintaining a more equitable marketplace for insurance carriers.
The Medical Information Bureau also has affiliate businesses that offer other services to its members and consumers. For instance, MIB Solutions, Inc., offers consumers a Policy Locator Service. This can help to identify either lost or unknown life insurance policies of individuals who are deceased.
The information that is obtained from the Medical Information Bureau, in conjunction with the insurance application for coverage, the agent’s statement, and the medical examination report can typically provide insurance underwriters with a sufficient amount of details so that a proper applicant selection and premium rate classification can be made.
How the Medical Information Bureau Helps Life Insurance Underwriters and Consumers
Through the services that are offered by the Medical Information Bureau, insurance underwriters can be alerted to errors, omissions, and / or misrepresentations that are made on applications for insurance coverage.
In turn, by mitigating the risk of such applicant errors, omissions, and / or misrepresentations, the Medical Information Bureau can essentially help to lower the risk for insurance companies in approving “risky” applicants. This can ultimately help in lowering the cost of life and health insurance for consumers, as well.
The Medical Information Bureau, by helping to mitigate high-risk applicants, can ultimately also help insurance companies to stay strong from a financial standpoint. It is estimated that the MIB Group has saved its member companies more than $1 billion annually due in large part to helping companies to better assess and select risks more accurately.
Is Consumer Information Safe via the MIB?
Today, many consumers are worried about identity theft and the keeping of personal information safe. This includes an individual’s medical records – which can reveal a great deal about an individual, and can also be used in identity theft crimes. For that reason, it can be concerning to many people whether or not their information is safe.
Therefore, when sharing medical information with an insurance company, the Medical Information Bureau provides the details in a coded format. Consumers’ information is also maintained by the MIB in this coded format so as to help protect privacy.
In addition, the information that is maintained by the Medical Information Bureau is only able to be accessed by certain authorized personnel of an MIB member company to which an applicant has applied for life or health insurance coverage. Also, a consumer must first provide his or her authorization to use the Medical Information Bureau as a source of information.
To provide even more security concerning the privacy of consumers’ information, the Medical Information Bureau also both implements and enforces a high level of security standards that have been developed to protect the safety and security of any “individually identifiable” information in its database.
How the MIB’s Information is Used by Insurance Carriers
The coded reports that are provided to insurance carriers by the Medical Information Bureau provide information such as medical conditions, as well as details on risky hobbies – such as skydiving or rock climbing – that an applicant may have. These reports may also contain details about an applicant’s adverse driving record, as this too can be considered risky by a life or health insurance carrier.
If the MIB’s coded report is not consistent with the information that is given by an applicant for insurance, then the insurance company’s underwriters will be required to conduct a further investigation. That way, the underwriters will be able to obtain additional details about the risks, conditions, and / or medical history of the applicant before making their coverage decision.
Can a Consumer Access their MIB Information?
For many years, the Medical Information Bureau has allowed consumers to access their files (if there is one). One reason for doing so is to provide consumers with the ability to ensure both the completeness and the accuracy of the information. This information may be requested directly on the Medical Information Bureau’s website, and there is no charge for obtaining it. A consumer is allowed to access his or her MIB file once each year.
It is important to note that an individual may or may not have an MIB file. These files are only created if a person has applied for individually underwritten life, health, long-term care, disability, and / or critical illness insurance coverage.
Throughout its time in operation, out of all the free disclosures that the Medical Information Bureau has provided to consumers, it is estimated that only between 1 and 2 percent of their consumer files need to be amended because of either inaccurate or incomplete information.
What If a Consumer’s Medical Information Bureau Information is Incorrect?
In accordance with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Medical Information Bureau provides a process of “reinvestigation” if a consumer’s information is not accurate or complete. Consumers may request this reinvestigation directly through the MIB.
In disputing the details in a consumer’s file, an individual may request a reinvestigation online through the MIB’s website. The MIB will ask that the consumer submit a signed Request for Reinvestigation form. A consumer may also request the reinvestigation via a signed letter. There is no charge for a consumer to submit a dispute to the MIB.
All of the following information will be required from the consumer:
- His or her full name – including the middle initial, as well as any name suffix such as Jr., Sr., etc. which would distinguish the person from another family member.
- Date and place of birth
- Last four digits of the person’s Social Security number (if from the United States), or their Social Identification Number (if they are from Canada)
- A list of each item on their MIB Consumer File that is believed to be incomplete or incorrect.
After the Medical Information Bureau has received a sufficient amount of information to begin a consumer’s dispute, the organization will initiate the reinvestigation with any of the member insurance companies that reported the information. This will help in confirming the information’s accuracy, as well as to determine whether or not a mistake has been made.
Once the investigation has been completed, the Medical Information Bureau will then send the results to the consumer via mail. The process can often take up to 45 days to complete. However, in order to help make the reinvestigation process go more smoothly, there are several things that a consumer can do.
First, obtaining a free copy of his or her MIB Consumer File before starting the dispute process can be helpful. This is because any and all of the inaccurate and / or incomplete details can be taken care of in just one single reinvestigation.
It is also important that a consumer be as specific as possible when describing the information that is believed to be either incomplete and / or incorrect. This includes providing the exact extent and nature of the incompleteness or inaccuracy.
A consumer can also provide the Medical Information Bureau with his or her medical records from their health care provider that are relevant to the disputed information or conditions that they are disputing. Such information that can be helpful to the MIB during a reinvestigation may include treatment records, as well as any lab test results. Also, providing any additional supporting documents can be helpful.
If these records are not readily available to the consumer, then a consumer may also provide the name and contact information of any of their health care providers that may have the necessary information.