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In a Nutshell - Disclosing patients' details to insurers

The MDU's Dr Jacqueline Phillips guides you through the dos and don'ts.

Disclosing patients' details to insurers needs to be done very carefully
Disclosing patients' details to insurers needs to be done very carefully

The GMC requires you to have explicit patient consent to provide a report for an insurance company, and you must always be satisfied that the patient understands the reason for the disclosure, how much information will be disclosed and that you cannot omit relevant information.

What to disclose
The Association of British Insurers and the BMA provide joint guidance on reports. This advises using the General Practitioner's Report form and not printouts of records.

Insurers may sometimes request the entire medical record (for example, for a large life policy claim).

You must not disclose any information for which the patient has not given consent or confidential information about relatives and third parties.

Life insurers may ask for reports about dead patients or want copies of records. Unless the patient gave consent for disclosure after their death, you should not agree without the written authority of the personal representatives of the deceased's estate.

Patient access to reports
Patients have a statutory right under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 to view reports for insurance purposes before they are sent.

If patients ask you to amend/withhold data because it is misleading or incorrect, you can correct the report. Otherwise, you should only comply with the patient's request if you can do so without compromising the report's completeness and accuracy. If you cannot agree, the patient can add a dissenting statement. If, after seeing the report, the patient asks you not to send it to the insurer, you must respect this.

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