Insurance companies will request injured parties to provide medical records substantiating their injuries; however, insurance companies cannot require a full medical history. The insurance company will do everything it can to reduce its potential exposure, including trying to access more medical information than it is entitled to in order to find other possible explanations for the extent of the person’s injuries. 

General Medical Releases

After an accident, insurance companies will often reach out to the injured party to explore a possible settlement. Often in these initial discussions, the insurance company will provide the injured person with a general medical records release. The medical record’s release allows the insurance company to access the injured party’s medical history, including prior injuries, illnesses, and surgeries. The insurance company is entitled to medical records substantiating the injuries, prognosis, and treatment. However, the insurance company cannot access the injured party’s medical history.

Dangers of Giving Too Much Information

The insurance company often requests more information because they will use it to try to reduce the claim. The insurance company will comb through these medical records to find an explanation for the injuries, or perhaps a cause that made the injuries more severe. Medical history and injuries are complicated issues. There could be many explanations for the extent of harm stemming from a particular injury. The insurance company will marshal as many arguments as possible to connect the severity to prior injuries or surgeries.

Privacy Rights

The insurance company is not permitted to access medical records. It can only do so if the injured party grants the insurer permission by signing a medical release. The insurance company might also demand the injured party provide a recorded statement describing his or her injuries and a medical report from the treating doctor or specialists. However, the insurer is not entitled to either of these documents. The injured party can generally describe what he or she remembers and where he or she feels pain or restricted movement, but the recorded statement’s purpose is usually to find inconsistencies. Moreover, the injured party can also prohibit the insurer from directly contacting his or her doctor; rather, all communications should go through the injured party’s attorney. Insurers sometimes demand injured parties submit to an independent medical examination. However, again, the insurer cannot compel the injured party to go to any specific doctor or treatment.