What Is the Medical Information Bureau (MIB)?

MIB Explained in Less Than 5 Minutes

Definition
MIB, formerly known as the Medical Information Bureau, is a company that insurers use to look at the health history of potential customers.
Man and woman reviewing paperwork and calculating figures
Photo:

FatCamera / Getty Images

MIB, formerly known as the Medical Information Bureau, is a company that insurers use to look at the health history of potential customers. MIB keeps a database of things that may affect whether or not you can get insurance. Members can see your health conditions and other details using MIB services.

Learn more about what MIB does and why it matters when you’re buying health insurance.

Definition and Examples of MIB

MIB gathers and shares information to help life and health insurance companies evaluate the risk of insuring customers. MIB is an information exchange. Insurance companies provide information for the database. Other insurers can then use it to cross-check applications from new customers.

MIB matters if you’re thinking of buying insurance. Before offering you coverage, insurers want to know about any health issues you may have, problems in your motor vehicle history, your prescription drug use, and more. This lets them decide how much risk it will be to insure you. One of the tools insurers use to research those topics is MIB.

For example, when you apply for life insurance, the insurance company might check with MIB to see if you have any health conditions that you did not put on your application. If MIB reports that your application might be missing important details, the insurance company will do more research to make sure that your application is correct.

Note

Companies cannot submit data to MIB without your consent. They also cannot check your MIB record unless you agree to it. When you apply for insurance, you should receive a disclosure that explains how your data will be used.

How MIB Works

MIB is a member-owned organization that collects information and shares it with members. The membership consists of life and health insurance companies, and information in the MIB database comes from members. The concept is similar to a credit bureau that tracks your credit history with lender-provided information.

Insurers use MIB for several types of insurance:

  • Life
  • Health
  • Disability income
  • Critical illness
  • Long-term care

When you apply for life or health insurance, insurance companies may ask about your health conditions. They want to know about any issues that increase the risk that they will have to pay benefits. For example, insurers want to know if you have a life-threatening health condition or dangerous hobbies you frequently engage in.

Note

Some guaranteed issue policies do not ask any questions about your health, making these policies easy to qualify for. However, you may have to pay relatively high premiums or have limitations on your coverage.

If you get insurance through an employer, the coverage doesn’t typically require underwriting. You’re automatically covered. When you apply for individual insurance, though, you usually have to fill out an application and be approved. The information from your application may go to MIB.

MIB doesn’t store your actual medical records, such as lab results or prescriptions. Instead, members send codes to MIB. Each code stands for a broad category of medical information that is important for insurance underwriting, most often things that would impact your health and life expectancy. Insurers then compare these codes to your application.

When you answer questions on a life insurance application, it’s important to respond accurately and honestly. Insurance companies double-check your answers with any information available to them. MIB is one of the data sources they might use. If MIB reports that your application is missing information about a health condition, for example, the insurance company will investigate further. They may ask you to provide more information until the issue gets cleared up.

You will only have an MIB file if you’ve applied for individually underwritten insurance with an MIB member in the last seven years. And if you’re in good health and there are no known risk factors in your history, you might not be in the MIB database.

Doctors and hospitals do not provide information directly to MIB. Your insurance company, though, might ask to access medical records from doctors you’ve seen in the past. Those records can be used along with your application and MIB data to arrive at an approval decision.

What It Means for Your Insurance Application

MIB helps insurance companies gather accurate information about new customers. According to MIB, this results in better risk management for insurers, which means lower premiums for customers. And by simplifying the underwriting process, these types of databases make it possible to buy insurance online quickly with no medical exam.

This also means that it’s best to be honest when you apply for insurance. Any mismatches can lead to additional paperwork and delays in processing your application.

You might not like the thought of your health information in a database. As with credit reporting and other consumer data, you have the right to view your MIB reports and dispute inaccurate information.

When it comes to approval and pricing decisions, MIB does not approve or deny coverage. Instead, your insurer uses MIB to detect anything missing in your application. You might have forgotten to include that information or left out important details on purpose. Ultimately, the insurance company is the one that reviews your application and makes the decision.

Key Takeaways

  • MIB gathers health-related information from life and health insurance applications into one database.
  • Insurance companies that are members of MIB can compare information on your applications to the MIB database to help the insurance underwriting process.
  • You might not have an MIB file if you’re in good health or you have not applied for individually underwritten insurance for seven years.
  • MIB does not decide if you get approved or how much you pay for insurance.
  • You have the right to review your MIB file and dispute any errors.
Was this page helpful?
Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MIB. "The Facts About MIB's Underwriting Services." Accessed Jan. 3, 2022.

  2. MIB. "Underwriting Life and Health Insurance and MIB." Accessed Jan. 3, 2022.

  3. MIB. "Straight Talk About MIB's Underwriting Services." Accessed Jan. 3, 2022.

  4. Society of Actuaries. "Simplified Issue Underwriting," Page 25. Accessed Jan. 3, 2022.

  5. MIB. "How To Dispute Your MIB Underwriting Services Consumer File." Accessed Jan. 3, 2022.

Related Articles