Insurers can’t see your medical records unless you give them written permission. Find out why insurers might need to access your medical history and what information they’d get.
Your medical records can only be seen by life insurance companies if you’ve given your consent. You’re protected by two acts: the Access to Medical Reports Act (1988) and the Data Protection Act (2018), which is why insurers need your permission to view them. Only a select few third parties, such as the police, courts, social services and the DVLA can access your medical history without needing your consent. But this is very strictly governed.
If you approve your insurer’s request they’ll only be given medical records that are relevant, not your entire history. Your insurer will be able to see:
The insurer will ask for your written consent. If you agree, your doctor will then provide only the records that relate to your life insurance application.
It’s possible your insurer will ask for access to your entire medical record. If they do, you’ll need to make a subject access request to get all the information. You’ll need to agree to the subject access request before your doctor can pass the information on to your insurer.
You can request to see the report before your insurer does. If you disagree with anything, you can ask for it to be changed. Your GP can refuse to make this change, but you can then request that a statement of your objections is included for your insurer to see.
They can do, yes, but only if it’s necessary for the underwriting process. They might share information in order to determine whether you’ll be accepted for the policy you’ve applied for.
Your insurer should make it clear to you on the application form, or in other correspondence, if this is a necessary step.
Insurers will only take into account information on something they judge to be relevant to their ability to risk and underwrite a specific customer
Association of British Insurers (ABI)
Generally, medical records are kept for between five and 10 years after a patient’s latest treatment, discharge or death. How far back your medical records go depends on whether you use a private medical practice or a general hospital. It also varies if the records belong to an adult or a minor.
Some insurers will request your entire medical history, but not all. Insurers are particularly interested in any medical issues that’ve occurred in the last five years – they’ll usually exclude these from your cover. They’ll also want to know if you’ve been clear of a condition for two or more years.
They can do, but only with permission from someone authorised to act on the deceased’s behalf in the event of a claim.
Most insurers will look at a variety of evidence, such as the cause and timing of death, documentation left by the deceased and any relevant medical history.
You can get them for free from your local GP practice, opticians or dentist.
The insurer could refuse to cover you as they don’t have the information they need to assess your application or claim.
You can get life insurance cover without a provider seeing your medical records.
However, the insurer can refuse to pay out for a claim if you weren’t completely honest about any details of your medical history, such as any pre-existing conditions, when you applied for the policy.