Understanding the Medical Information Bureau…Everything You Need To Know

The Medical information Bureau or M.I.B., as it is known in the life insurance industry,  sounds like a government organization right out of George Orwell's 1984. 

While not a government agency, there are some similarities. 

The purpose of this article is to give you an understanding of what the Medical Information Bureau is, how it operates, and why it matters to you.

What is the medical Information Bureau?

​The Medical Information Bureau is a member owned, non-profit that collects coded medical information for use in life and health insurance underwriting.

The Medical Information Bureau stores information obtained by insurance carriers for use by other carriers. So, the only way to have a MIB report is to have applied for individually underwritten life of health insurance in the last seven years.

So, in short, the insurance companies share your info with one another. The purpose of this cooperation, among competitors, is to protect against underwriting "missing" an issue that is material to the application.

Why Can They Share Your Information? 

What about your privacy?

No such luck. 

The application that you sign when applying for life insurance expressly gives the carrier the right to share your information with the M.I.B., whether you wind taking insurance from that carrier or not.

What s On The M.I.B. Report? 

 The report itself consist of codes that represent diagnosis and treatments received. This is information the original carrier would have obtained through application questions, prescription checks and attending physician statements (APS).

​You can request your free MIB report  at any time. If you have had individual health or life insurance in the last 7 years, and are planning on applying for life insurance, you should request the report.

Key Take Aways

  • The MIB  is a member owned organization that shares medical information among members.
  • You expressly authorize this information sharing when you apply for individual life or  health insurance.
  • You only have an MIB report if you have applied for individual life or health insurance in the last 7 years.

​What If There Is a Mistake on The Report?

​If you have ordered and received your MIB report and believe it to be inaccurate, There is a dispute process with MIB

Having the relevant medical documents and contact information for the providers is helpful​ both to expedite the dispute  process and state your case to a prospective insurer.

How long will The MIB report stay with you?​

underwriting time for life insurance

​Information submitted by carriers to the MIB remain on file for a period of seven years. For this reason it may be important to know when your last application for individual life or health took place.

If You Have a Condition reported on The MIB, Are You Screwed?

No, not necessarily. ​The condition being reported may well be benign to underwriting. 

For example, if you have high cholesterol- controlled with the use of a medication, it would be reported. but, it wouldn't negatively  effect underwriting.   

The information on the medical information bureau simply feeds the reality that different insurance carriers have different appetites for specific risks. 

The best way to deal with an MIB report is to request a copy and consult an independent agent.

An independent agent will have access to many different carriers with different risk appetites. the way to ensure the best possible rate is to apply with the carrier who views your individual situation most favorably. ​The ability to access  this knowledge is  a skill set  uniquely suited to the independent agent.

Key Take Aways

  • Different carriers have different appetites for individual risks. This is reflected in underwriting class. 
  • Access to more carriers will result in better pricing.
  • Only independent brokers have the freedom to offer the best deal at all times.

If you have previously been declined for life insurance or have any questions about the Medical Information Bureau, please drop us a line.

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James Tobin, CFP

Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. Over the past 10 years, Jim has used his CFP-financial planning designation to help individuals with their life insurance needs. In addition to working with life insurance clients, Jim teaches ESL classes in his spare time. He resides with his beautiful wife Nicole and the 3 cats that rule their lives..