Life Insurance and Medical Records
If you’re looking to get life insurance coverage you may have heard that insurance companies request your medical history.
It’s true and this is a very common practice of all life insurance companies.
When you apply for life insurance the application has questions about your health and your family health history.
Why Do Insurers Request Medical Records?
In order to verify the accuracy of your answers on the application for coverage, the insurance company asks for your medical records and contacts the Medical Information Bureau to review any information available regarding your health history.
The insurance company uses the medical records to determine your health, if they will insure you for life insurance, and what they will charge for your policy.
Health Risk for Life Insurance
One of the main factors an insurance company considers when you apply for coverage is your Health.
The status of your health, and your health history, assist the insurance company in determining the following:
Reviewing your health records helps the insurer determine your longevity – how long you are expected to live.
The longer your life expectancy, the lower your cost for life insurance coverage.
Medical Information Release Form
Insurance companies can request your permission for a health care provider to release your personal medical records to them.
When you sign the application, there is often a separate signature page that the company asks you to sign.
This is a medical information release form giving the insurance company authorization to access your medical records from your health care providers.
If you fail to comply with the request for your medical records, an insurance company is not likely to write the insurance policy to insure you for life insurance.
Although you may give a life insurance carrier the right to request your medical records from your doctors, the insurance company is bound by privacy laws, which control how that information is accessed, used and disclosed.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule regulates how health plans and health care providers use and disclose certain individually identifiable health information that is maintained or transmitted electronically, verbally or on paper.
HIPAA protects health information released by doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and health plans — it does not apply to life insurance companies.
Your medical information is protected under the insurer's own privacy standards and your state's privacy laws.
Medical Information Bureau
The Medical Information Bureau is a clearinghouse of medical information that insurance companies share regarding applicants for insurance coverage.
A central database provides insurers with information pertaining to applicants who apply for individual life insurance or health insurance policies.
A standard MIB record contains codes relating to specific medical conditions and lifestyle choices. Your MIB file, if you have one, does not contain your complete medical history.
The MIB is not subject to HIPAA, but is a consumer-reporting agency subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. This entitles you to certain rights if you are denied life insurance based on your MIB report.
If your application for life insurance is denied, contact the insurance agent and request the results of your medical exam.
Depending on your medical background, the insurance company may offer you a rated insurance policy at a higher premium.
You have the right to dispute the ratings, although the company can order additional medical tests or request more records from your doctor.
It may be worth it if you get a better rate in the end.
In the event that you are uninsurable, a company that deals with high or impaired risk policies may be willing to offer you guaranteed issue life insurance coverage.
Death benefits are smaller, but offer some financial assistance to your family if you die prematurely.
Underwriting of Medical Records
Life insurance underwriters view medical records as a factual representation of your medical history. The problem is that, not unlike credit reports, the majority of medical records are strewn with errors.
People apply for insurance and only then do they find out what doctors have said in their records.Make sure you get a copy of your medical records and know what’s in them.
Errors in medical records can cause you to be declined for life insurance or pay far more than you need to.
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