Ask the Life Insurance Expert

I heard there's a database of life insurance policies. Is that true?

No one has a database of all life insurance policies issued. But MIB Group Inc. maintains a database of information contained in life, health, disability and long-term care insurance applications filed in the last 14 years.

If you've applied for any of these types of policies within that timeframe, it's likely that MIB has a file on you. The information isn't as extensive as you might think because MIB doesn't maintain files of complete medical histories -- only small bits of information submitted by insurance companies.

You can order a copy of your file from MIB by calling a toll-free number and providing the requested information, including your full name, Social Security number, birth date, occupation, recent addresses and phone number. (It's against the law to request someone else's file.) MIB then mails the information to you within two weeks.

Insurance companies don't use your MIB file to base decisions on whether to insure you. Rather, the purpose of the information is to prevent fraud and misrepresentation. If, for instance, you're denied insurance because of a medical condition and then fail to mention that condition when applying to another company, the MIB report could tip off the insurer that you're lying. No one, including insurers, can take a peek at your file without your authorization.

You're entitled to one free report from MIB every year, and you can dispute errors if you think any information in the report is incorrect. Follow the instructions from MIB on how to file a dispute.

MIB also offers a Policy Locator Service for executors or administrators of estates looking for lost life insurance policies. MIB says the database contains more than 170 million records of life insurance application inquiries processed in the last 14 years.

For more, see 'What insurance companies say about you' series: Your MIB life insurance report.

Last updated: Nov. 22, 2010
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