I was in a car accident recently. My auto insurance covers my medical bills for the $20,000 I pay my monthly premium for right?
Wrong. In Minnesota, every auto insurance policy contains a clause that states, in some form or another, your insurance company has a right to have you examined by a doctor of their choice. The purpose of this independent medical examination (IME) is the way for the no-fault insurance company to stop paying the $20,000 in protection you thought you were paying for every month. Nearly every company schedules them (usually within 2-6 months of your accident), and you must comply or your medical benefits can be denied for a "failure to cooperate," which you agreed to do when you purchased your auto policy.
But I'm an honest guy/gal, I've got nothing to hide, the doctor will see how banged up I am right?
Wrong. Typically around 1% of people who attend IMEs receive a report from the doctor that allows additional treatment after the examination. That is, 99% of people who attend IMEs receive a report from the doctor stating they are perfectly healthy and treatment will no longer be paid for. One report recently found that 50% of people who attend IMEs seek no further treatment. This examination process saves auto insurance companies millions of dollars.
What type of doctor will I see?
You may see an neurologist, orthopedist, or chiropractor, depending on the type of treatment you have already incurred. The "independent" doctor who will do the examination gets paid very well, typically over $1000 dollars to spend 20 minutes with you and write the insurance company a report. The doctors that do these exams usually will do several exams that day. Some doctors will do up to 8 "IMEs" per day. For the doctor willing to use his or her medical degree for this, that money must certainly add up quickly. Unfortunately this means the insurance company will no longer voluntarily cover your medical bills.
So what can I do after my medical benefits have been denied?
Just because you attend the exam and receive a letter from the insurance company cutting off your treatment doesn't mean its the end of the story. In fact, with an attorney involved the odds of getting additional treatment paid for after the IME are quite high. You do have options, and the insurance company may not tell you about these. Who your insurance company is also matters. If you have been in a car accident in Minnesota, whether the accident was your fault or not, I am happy to discuss your options after the auto insurance cutoff for free.
Additional resources provided by the author
Attending an IME soon? Want to know more? I offer a free download about IMEs courtesy of the Minnesota Association of Justice on my website.
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