Independent Medical Assessments

If you’ve ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident or have been off work on disability insurance, there’s a good chance your insurance provider required an independent medical assessment (IMA) by a physician or specialist of some kind. 
Usually, they request these assessments to have an objective professional give their opinion as to the medical status of the insurance claimant. I give these assessments on a regular basis and have noticed a few details about the process that could be made a bit clearer for people.

Typically, your insurance company will look for an outside opinion as your regular family doctor or psychiatrist would respond as your advocate. Sometimes, the insurer will take your doctor’s information but still seek an IMA for a second opinion or for more detailed documentation of the problems, assessments and treatment plans involved in a particular case. 

In all cases, the person conducting the IMA is not the decision maker. They don’t decide whether the individual qualifies for disability payments and are also not the person who requires the assessment in the first place. All of those fall on the insurance company itself.

If your insurance provider has requested an IMA, here are some tips to consider: 

If you have concerns with the requirements of the IMA, these should be brought up with the insurance company before the assessment rather than with the doctor completing the IMA.

Before the IMA begins, you will have to sign a form giving your consent. If you object to this requirement, you should discuss it with your insurance company before arriving for the assessment.

As with any medical appointment, it is important to arrive on time. Plan to be cooperative and honest – don’t try to give answers you think are expected but simply respond as clearly and honestly as you can. 

Be prepared – bring photo ID, know your medications, doctors’ names, and what treatments you have tried. Call ahead to find out where the office is and how long the assessment is likely to take. 

Don’t bring children or pets with you. You will most likely have to be seen on your own with no family, friends or advocates.

The medical professional conducting the assessment will probably begin the process from an unbiased perspective. They are hired for their honest professional opinion and not to give a judgment against you. If you arrive late, angry, argumentative or uncooperative, these will be observed and documented and may not help your case. 

Finally, although it is called an examination, an IMA is not a skill-testing situation. All you have to do is know your own story – and you know it better than anyone else. Don’t try to skew the facts or make a good story better. Let the facts speak for themselves and the result will likely be more positive.


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