Importance of the Medical Information Bureau

As a source of medical information to insurance companies, the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) serves as the clearinghouse for confidential medical data on applicants for life insurance.

MIB’s underwriting services are used exclusively by MIB’s member life and health insurance companies to assess an individual’s risk and eligibility during the underwriting of life, health, disability income, critical illness and long-term care policies.

The information is reported and maintained in code symbols to help preserve its confidentiality.

Companies that are members of the Bureau are expected to report any impairments designated on the official list. These impairments are related primarily to the applicant’s physical condition but also include hereditary characteristics and addiction to alcohol and narcotics.

All impairments must be reported whether the company accepts, postpones, or declines the risk, or offers a modified plan of insurance.

Normally, a company will screen all of its applicants against the MIB file of reported impairments. If the company finds an impairment and wants further details, it must submit its requests through the MIB, but only after it first conducts its own complete investigation from all known sources.

It should be noted that there is not basis for the widespread belief that a person who is recorded in the MIB files cannot obtain insurance at standard rates.

The information contained is treated like any other underwriting data from any other source, and in the final analysis, may be outweighed by favorable factors.

In any case, the rules of the MIB stipulate that a company cannot take unfavorable underwriting action solely based off the information in the MIB files. This means that the company needs to possess supplementary unfavorable underwriting facts to warrant an application unacceptable.

Since its establishment in 1902, the MIB has been committed to providing consumers with the right to obtain their MIB Consumer File, if one exists, in order to ensure its accuracy and completeness.

Consumers can request their own MIB file either electronically or over the phone. This a complimentary service that the MIB provides to consumers under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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