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Medical records

All you need to know about life insurance and medical records

Medical information is a sensitive area so it’s understandable that you want to know the answers

By Emily Sullivan

Published: 01 September 2020

Looking for life insurance?

Insurers want to assess the risk of offering you a life insurance policy and viewing your medical records could give them insight as to whether a claim is more likely.

However, your insurers do require your consent to request a medical report from your GP. They will also ask other questions, such as your age, weight and lifestyle to gain an overall picture of your health before providing you with a price for your policy.

Do insurers need permission to get a medical report?

Yes, they need your consent to request a medical report from your doctor. It’s typically asked for when you apply for the policy.

If they choose to look at the medical report, you will be notified and have 21 days to arrange an appointment with your GP to view it beforehand.

Once in receipt of a medical report, insurers can share it with each other so long as it’s relevant, but you can see what is being passed on and refuse to disclose it.

How will the doctor handle my medical records?

On request from the insurance company, your doctor will write a medical report that details your consultations with healthcare professionals.

It won’t provide your entire medical history, but relevant visits to your GP, treatments, prescribed medication and details of referrals to specialists.

If you don’t wish to read it, it can be sent straight on to your insurance company.

If you’re not happy with it, you can ask your doctor to make changes. If your doctor refuses to amend it, you can still include your own personal statement in the report or withdraw permission to send it.

Occasionally your insurer might ask for access to your entire medical records. If they do, you’ll need to make a ‘subject access request’. This is simply a written request under the Data Protection Act asking to release your medical records.

How far back will my medical records go?

Medical records are generally kept for between five and 10 years after a patient’s final treatment, but this varies depending on the age of the patient and if you use a private medical practice or a general hospital.

Insurers tend to be more interested in medical issues of the past five years and if you are clear of any conditions, they’ll also want to know how long you have been free of symptoms.

Do life insurance companies check medical records after death?

It’s possible, but they first need permission from someone authorised to act on the deceased’s behalf in the event of a claim.

Life insurance companies also look at other evidence such as the method and timing of death and documentation left by the deceased before deciding on a claim.

Who else can access my medical records?

Under certain circumstances, public bodies such as the police, social services and the DVLA are legally able to access your medical records without your consent.

Where can I get a copy of my medical records?

At your local GP practice, opticians or dentists. Healthcare professionals have a legal requirement to show you your records if you ask.

Will my medical records show my pre-existing medical conditions?

Yes. Your medical record will show details of any pre-existing medical conditions, which include illnesses, injury or disease.

You should still tell your insurer about any pre-existing conditions. Just granting them permission to receive a medical report may not be sufficient in the event of a claim.

Having a pre-existing condition can make a life insurance policy more expensive and some insurers may not offer a policy.

Can I get a life insurance policy without an insurance provider seeing my medical records?

Yes. Often providers won’t ask to see your medical records when you apply for life insurance.

But if you withhold any important information about pre-existing conditions, they could refuse to pay out on a claim.

How can I find a cheaper life insurance policy?

You can search for life insurance from a panel of leading providers and compare quotes within minutes with MoneySuperMarket. You’ll always see the guaranteed price you’ll pay for your life cover.