Smart Life Insurance Shoppers Should Know MIB

By Joe Taylor on April 19th, 2010

You've heard of a FICO score, and you probably even know that at least three independent credit reporting bureaus monitor your financial health.

But who tracks your actual health?

A little-known company called MIB Group has spent over a century tracking Americans' responses to questions on insurance applications. They're not the Men in Black, but they might know just as much about the state of your health as government agencies or your personal physician.

Unlike the major credit bureaus, MIB Group doesn't seek to make a profit by selling your personal information. MIB acts as a non-profit, industry association comprised of over 470 member companies. Members must meet strict security and ethics guidelines to gain access to MIB's database, which reports the last seven years of a consumer's specific data from life, health, disability, critical illness and long-term care insurance applications. MIB's data are stored as codes indicating medical conditions; it does not store actual medical records.

How MIB's Data Impacts Insurance Quotes

Competition to offer affordable life insurance has forced life insurance underwriters to find new ways to reduce risk. When prominent insurers first banded together to form MIB's original association in 1902, the group's database was a primary method of preventing fraudulent applicants from getting coverage. MIB Group has a carefully guarded database of records that contains only information gathered from your interactions with insurance companies --not from health care providers. And because MIB doesn't keep records of insurers' actions toward policyholders (such as whether you were accepted or rejected), insurance companies can't use the database to "blackball" customers.

However, MIB's database does help insurers identify red flags among applicants. For example, if you revealed a medical condition on a health insurance application four years ago, and now that condition is missing from your current life insurance application, the insurer will want to know why.

Also, if you've recently applied for life insurance with several companies, they'll want to why - are you trying to secure more coverage than you're eligible for?

Four Tips for Finding the Cheapest Insurance

If the idea of a personal health database makes you nervous about hunting for insurance quotes, follow these four tips to understand how to leverage MIB Group's information for your benefit:

  • Check your own MIB Group report for accuracy. Like credit bureaus, MIB Group offers consumers the ability to review their own reports and to file appeals against inaccurate information. Eliminating incorrect entries from your seven-year record can lead to more affordable insurance rates.
  • Hold on to term life insurance policies for at least a few years before changing providers. MIB Group maintains an "activity index" that tracks whether consumers have hopped too frequently between insurers. Setting up a policy is often an insurer's biggest expense, so MIB member companies discourage the practice by quoting higher life insurance rates to consumer with heavy policy activity.
  • Maintain your own personal insurance application history. Because MIB Group reports highlight inconsistencies between applications, some consumers find it helpful to keep a journal or a checklist of activities or conditions. Completing new insurance applications with this list helps prevent errors or omissions, especially when requesting insurance quotes for loved ones.
  • Request insurance quotes online without fear. Conditions you input for getting life insurance quotes don't go to MIB. However, details you put on your official application will. Make sure your application is accurate.

A health-history database run by the insurance industry might seem scary to some casual observers, but MIB Group's work has helped lower life insurance rates in recent years by weeding out fraud.


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