Medical Information Bureau
What Do They Know About You?

By Michael Horbal - Updated on 07/06/2023

If you’ve applied for life insurance, you may have heard about the Medical Information Bureau (MIB).

However, you may also not know the MIB’s role in the life insurance application.

So we clear it up here, with all the FACTS!

Who Makes up the Medical Information Bureau?

The Medical Information Bureau is a member-owned non-profit corporation that has been around since 1902.

The members are the leading life insurance companies in North America.

The MIB has been a leader in providing insurance companies with risk assessment and fraud detection services for over 100 years.

The life insurance statistics show that 99% of individual life insurance policies issued in the U.S. come from MIB member companies.

How Does the MIB Work?

The MIB operates an information exchange on behalf of its members.

Life insurance companies want to know as much about you as possible before they give you coverage.

Information such as:

The info is used to create an underwriting file for the company to review.

When you apply for life insurance, you will sign a disclosure/authorization form (Pre-Notice).

If a paramed exam is required, the examiner will have you sign the authorization form again.

This authorization allows the insurance company to obtain and disclose your information to the Medical Information Bureau.

What happens if you don’t sign the authorization form? Life insurers decline your application if you refuse to sign the authorization form.

It’s part of the application for all companies that medically underwrite applications, including for no-exam life insurance.

The MIB does not receive your medical records.

Member companies use a proprietary coding system to report underwriting issues.

For example, if you had a heart attack, the insurance company you applied to would provide MIB with a code to indicate that.

If you applied to another company, that company would see the code indicating the health issue.

This system protects life insurance companies from individuals trying to hide significant medical conditions.

Companies report codes for tobacco use, including cigars, chewing tobacco, cigarettes, marijuana, pipe tobacco, etc.

It’s essential to indicate your tobacco use on the application.

What Information Does a MIB Report Include?

To have a MIB Underwriting Services Consumer File (the official name of the file), you would have applied for individual term life insurance, universal or whole life within the past seven years.

If you are converting a life insurance policy, the MIB is not checked unless you were also looking to increase coverage or add life riders that require additional underwriting.

Life insurers provide codes to the MIB to protect information. Companies may then translate those codes into medical information.

How specific are MIB codes?

A code reported to the MIB would tell another life insurer that you had:

“Electrocardiogram. Premature contractions. Ventricular. Current or within the first year before application.”

With the above information obtained from your medical records, the new life insurance company would want to see a copy of that electrocardiogram.

If it’s been over seven years since you applied, or you have a group, accidental death, or guaranteed issue policy, there may not be a file on you.

Examples of the information reported to the MIB include:

The MIB will inevitably be providing additional information to member companies in the future as accelerated underwriting programs and no exam life insurance increase.

When you or your spouse apply for life insurance, the application will ask if you are replacing coverage, if you’ve applied to other companies, and what that outcome was.

You want to disclose application activity as the MIB file will tell life insurers that you have applied elsewhere.

Even if you applied through niche programs like Costo Life or AICPA term life as the insurance companies behind these programs are MIB members.

How to Get a Copy of Your MIB Report

It’s straightforward to get a report for yourself.

There is no charge to get a copy of your MIB report, and you can do so by following this link.

Your MIB report will include:

  1. Any medical and personal information the MIB has on file for you.
  2. Names of all insurance companies reporting info to the MIB
  3. The name of any life insurer who received your report in the past three years
  4. Inquiries made by life insurance companies within the past two years

You’ll receive a hard copy of your report in the mail within a few weeks.

What Should You Do if Your MIB Report is Wrong?

It’s infrequent for errors on a MIB report, but it occasionally happens.

I’ve heard of 2-3 reports having errors over 24+ years and thousands of files.

Whenever there was a problem, it was due to the insured’s physician’s office making mistakes.

Examples include:

  1. Putting another patient’s medical test results in your file
  2. Checking the box that you smoke when you don’t

If this happens during underwriting, we can usually help you to get it corrected with your physician first. We then update it with underwriting, resubmitting information to MIB to correct.

If it’s been a few years since you applied and you just discovered the problem, MIB has a formal process to correct mistakes.

Does Having a MIB File Affect Underwriting Negatively?

No, the fact that the MIB has a file on you does not negatively affect your underwriting.

Many insureds apply to multiple life insurance companies, so they may have a file already.

What matters is what your MIB file contains, if anything.

Remember that the primary source of information used in underwriting comes from:

  1. Your answers to your application
  2. Medical records from physicians
  3. Lab results if a paramed exam is required

Life insurers use the MIB to see if you previously applied for life insurance and make their underwriting decisions.

Final Words

So what does all of this mean for you?

If you’re in the market for life insurance, the MIB is just a normal part of the application process.

It’s not there to hurt or help your application. It is simply a tool used by life insurers to protect themselves from people who try to mislead life insurance companies.

Get a life insurance quote now and see how much you can save with RiskQuoter!

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