Life insurance information warehouse to list leads for families of terrorist victims

The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) is offering assistance to the relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The MIB maintains a database of medical information used for disability claims and insurance applications. By allowing victims' relatives access to its data, the MIB hopes to at least help families narrow their search for possible life insurance policies.

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"A search of [MIB] databases can assist survivors in locating policies that they may not realize exist."

"There is no central database of life insurance policies," says Fran Marinelli, vice president and chief marketing officer for the MIB. "However, MIB keeps a seven-year archive of application-related information of people who have applied for life insurance."

"For people trying to determine whether a person had life insurance, a search of our databases can assist survivors in locating policies that they may not realize exist," says Marinelli. "When we find records that a [life insurance] search has been made, we will inform the victims' families or survivors and the companies involved."

It will then be up to the family to contact the insurers to determine if a policy was ever issued, says Marinelli.

Despite containing nearly 100 million records, the MIB archives aren't exhaustive, although they cover approximately 90 percent of all individual life insurance policies written in North America.

In addition, the MIB's records show only that an insurer requested a data search — usually undertaken when someone applies for a new insurance policy — not whether or not an insurance policy was ever purchased. The MIB hopes that this information will make the search for life insurance policies of the Trade Center attack victims go a little more smoothly.

The MIB is currently offering the archive search free of charge and in a streamlined form to relatives of people who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The general population also has similar access to the MIB's database. Anyone can request a search of the company's records for a fee, although they will be required to provide a death certificate and will need to fill out additional permission forms before the MIB will commence a search.

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