How do life insurance companies obtain your medical information?

There are few things more personal to you than your health, so it’s understandable that many people want to know how life insurance companies obtain your medical information. To help put your mind at rest, we’ll explain how insurers do this and your rights as a consumer during the process.

Do insurers need permission to obtain a medical report?

Yes, insurance companies need to obtain your consent before they can obtain a medical report. As a consumer you are protected by the Access to Medical Records Act 1988, the Access to Personal Files and Medical Reports (Northern Ireland) and the Isle of Man Access to Health Records and Reports Act 1993 which allows access to your health records for insurance purposes.

When you apply for insurance you will be asked to give your consent for Legal & General to request a medical report. This consent allows you to tell us that you would like to see a copy of the report before it is sent. If a medical report is requested, you will be notified and you will then have 21 days to arrange to see the report with your doctor.

How will your doctor use your medical records?

So once you’ve given permission, how do life insurance companies obtain your medical information? In short, they request a medical report from your General Practitioner. The medical report could include details of consultations with any doctor or healthcare professional. If you don’t wish to read it, your doctor can forward this straight to the insurance company.

Alternatively, you can view the report at your GP’s surgery within 21 days of the request. At this stage, you can ask your doctor to make amendments, deny them permission to send it, or agree to the report being sent without any changes. Your doctor can refuse to make amendments, in which case you’re allowed to include your own personal statements in the report. Under the Access to Medical Records Act, your doctor doesn’t have to tell you any information they believe will cause harm to you or someone else’s physical or mental health.

How else do life insurance companies check your medical information?

When you apply for insurance, you’ll be asked medical questions so your insurer can assess if the insurance can be offered, what the premium rates will be and whether any restrictions will apply. To make the assessment it may mean a medical report is required. A medical report may also be necessary due to the amount of cover requested. But remember, they will need your written permission first. 

Do life insurance companies check medical records after death?

In terms of whether life insurance companies check medical records after death, Legal & General will consider a variety of evidence, including the method and timing of death, documentation left by the deceased and any medical history that can be reasonably obtained.