When you apply for insurance like life, health, or disability, you usually sign a form titled “Authorization to Obtain and Disclose Information.” This signifies that your data may be shared securely with certain organizations, but not sold for marketing purposes.
The MIB, which stands for the Medical Information Bureau not the Men in Black, is one such organization. The MIB is a resource for insurance underwriters to check and verify specific information provided by applicants.
Understanding the MIB
The MIB is a non-profit database owned by insurance companies in the United States and Canada, collecting medical and some non-medical information to detect fraud. It was established over 95 years ago by physicians and insurance companies to combat false claims, which were increasing insurance costs for honest policyholders.
Today, the MIB has over 600 member insurance companies and aims to uncover inaccuracies and misrepresentations on insurance applications. This helps in risk assessment and consequently reduces fraud, benefiting consumers with lower insurance costs.
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Here’s a simple breakdown of how the MIB works:
- Submit an Insurance Application: When you apply for insurance with a company that’s part of the MIB network, you’ll be informed that your data will be shared with the MIB.
- Give Permission: You’ll need to sign a form that allows the MIB and insurance companies to exchange your personal information.
- Data Gets Encoded: Your health information is turned into specific codes—for instance, a particular code could signify “history of alcohol abuse.” This helps to keep your medical records secure.
- Applying with a Different Company: If you apply for insurance with another MIB-member company, they can request your MIB report to cross-check the information you provide.
- Checking for Inconsistencies: If the new insurance company finds any differences between your MIB report and your new application, they may ask you additional questions to clarify.
Privacy and Security Measures
MIB uses confidential codes and robust security standards to protect individual privacy.
However, the database doesn’t contain actual medical records. Instead, it gathers information from:
- The applicant’s medical questionnaire
- Relevant information from the applicant’s doctor
- Adverse lab test results
- DMV information
What the MIB doesn’t collect:
- Auto and home insurance application data
- Information from non-member insurers or group-based policies
- Data from Affordable Care Act applications
- Information older than seven years
- Details of accepted or declined applications
- Information from applicants in good health approved by the insurer
Accessing Your MIB Consumer File
You can request a free copy of your MIB file annually. Be ready to provide personal details like your Social Security number, names, date and place of birth, occupation, recent addresses, and phone number.
|Note: You may not have a file if your application was more than seven years ago, for non-individually underwritten insurance, or to a non-member company.
If you notice anything on your Consumer File that seems inaccurate or incomplete, you can dispute these at no charge. However, the MIB states only 1-2% of files have been amended for this reason.
MIB’s Life Insurance Policy Finder Service
If you need to find a deceased relative’s lost life insurance policy, MIB offers a Policy Locator Service. Only estate executors or administrators will be provided information.
Information about the Policy Locator Service (PLS):
- Availability: PLS is not accessible to residents of California, or if the decedent (the person about whom a search is requested) was a resident of California.
- Search Results: While the service can find life insurance applications, it does not provide information on whether a policy was issued, inforce at the time of the insured’s death, or if any benefits are payable. Data also will not include details about the beneficiary.
- Date Range: The service only covers underwritten life insurance applications at MIB member companies from January 1, 1996, to the present.
- Types Not Covered: The PLS does not include information about:
- Policies with lower face amounts ($100,000 and below).
- Guaranteed issue and employer-based life insurance that is not individually underwritten.
- Military-issued life insurance.
Understanding the MIB can seem complex, but its mission is crucial in maintaining the integrity of the insurance industry and helping consumers. Whether you’re applying for new insurance or managing existing policies, being aware of how the MIB operates can help you stay informed.