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Can a Life Insurance Company Access My Medical Records?

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Before even the best life insurance company will issue you a policy, they need to understand who you are and certain aspects of your lifestyle, such as your age, occupation, etc. But does that include sensitive, personal information like your health history? This post will explore when a life insurance company can access your medical records and some alternatives if you want to avoid this.


Can a Life Insurance Company See My Medical History?

The short answer is “yes,” but only because you’ll agree to it as part of the application process. Most life insurance policies are issued after an extensive underwriting process which includes a great deal of inputs, mostly centered around certain aspects of your health and lifestyle.

Typically, the application process for life insurance will include the following medical-related components:

  • A lengthy questionnaire that asks questions about your health as well as any past family health history.
  • A medical exam to assess the current state of your health.
  • A HIPAA-compliant consent form that you’ll be asked to sign. This gives the insurance company the ability to access your electronic health records.

Additionally, life insurance companies have other ways of finding out about your medical history, such as through previous life insurance applications. If you’ve ever applied or had coverage before, then the insurance company can access those applications along with any medical information that was provided. They can also see if you were ever denied coverage for any reason.


How Your Medical History Can Work to Your Advantage

If you’re in reasonably good health, then you can use this to your advantage to lock into a great premium before getting older when conditions may change. Many young adults in their 20s and 30s will buy low-cost term policies to protect them for the next 30 years, regardless of any health changes. If you opt for a permanent policy, then you’ll have coverage for life at the same premium rate as long as your payments stay up to date.


What If I Don’t Want to Share My Medical Records?

Understandably, not everyone is comfortable sharing their medical history with insurance companies. For many, it can feel like an invasion of privacy to have someone comb through your health records and make judgments about your eligibility. Additionally, if underwriting finds something in your history or the medical exam that they deem as being too risky, then you may be asked to pay substantially higher premiums or be denied altogether.

For these reasons, alternative “no medical” life insurance options exist.

  • Simplified issue – This is a type of life insurance policy that does not include a medical exam. There is, however, a health questionnaire that you are expected to answer truthfully.
  • Guaranteed issue life insurance – This policy has neither a medical exam nor a health questionnaire. As the name implies, you can’t be denied coverage.

While both policies can be much easier to get than a regular life insurance policy, the tradeoff is that they will also have higher premiums. Additionally, the death benefit may also be capped at a lower level.


The Bottom Line

Traditionally, life insurance companies need your approval to access your medical records and determine your eligibility for coverage. While this can help a healthy person qualify for low-cost premiums, there may be times when someone does not want to share this information. In these circumstances, check out a no-medical option such as simplified issue or guaranteed issue life insurance instead.

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