September 20, 2018
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Information is Power

What exactly does your insurance company know about you?

Think of all the ways businesses attempt to catch your eye.

They advertise, promote, and cross-promote. They use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Name recognition means everything. And then there’s the antithesis — the Medical Information Bureau. If there’s a marketing department at MIB, it must be less busy than the Maytag repairman.

MIB is a privately run corporation established in 1902 by, and for the benefit of, insurance companies. MIB quietly goes about its job of collecting data on us — credit history, medical history, even our eating, smoking, and recreational habits, and our driving records. The information becomes available to insurance companies when we apply for life, health, disability, or long-term care insurance. This is not necessarily bad; MIB contends its primary purpose is to “alert underwriters to errors, omissions, or misrepresentations made on insurance applications,” thus keeping our rates lower than they would be otherwise. But does MIB really need to know that you’re a 5’5”, 137-pound, 48-year-old female who rides a Harley, quit smoking in 2008, has $17,000 in credit card debt, and had your appendix removed in 2010? If you have applied for life, health, disability, or long-term care insurance in the past seven years, that kind of information is likely in their hands.

“Let’s face it, people are not always truthful when completing insurance applications, and the MIB allows for a checking mechanism,” says Steven B. Theising, CLU, ChFC, a partner at Insurance & Business Planning Inc. in Evansville. “I have heard once or twice from other agents that information they received back from the MIB was incorrect, but in my 33 years in the business, the information has been remarkably accurate. The MIB does serve a purpose: to make sure people don’t make misstatements on their insurance applications to acquire coverage and then file claims based on those false statements.”

You are the only one who can be sure that MIB’s file on you is correct. If the female Harley enthusiast described above sold her bike last year and now drives a Ford Fusion, her insurance premiums might drop considerably. Is she positive that MIB is aware? Fortunately, the government requires MIB to provide all consumers with a free annual report, but only if we ask. You can get yours by calling MIB at 866-692-6901 or going to the organization’s website at mib.com. If for no other reason, it’s good to find out just how much the insurance world knows about you.

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