Do I Have to Attend an IME in Person?:
A Case Study

Under many disability insurance policies, insurers can require an insured to attend an independent medical examination (IME) in order to remain eligible for benefits. While some policies may explicitly state that an IME must be in person, other are silent on this. So, what happens if you are worried about attending an in-person IME due to potential health risks and/or the COVID-19 pandemic?

One example of this scenario is the case of Masevice v. Life Ins. Co. of North America[1]. Ms. Rebecca Masevice was a marketing manager who became unable to work due to migraine headaches, cluster headaches and POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and brain fog. She filed a disability claim with her insurer, Life Insurance Company of North America (LINA).

LINA requested that Masevice undergo an IME, and scheduled one.  Masevice requested that this IME be held via “telemed.”  LINA denied this request and re-scheduled the IME multiple times and ultimately denied her claim. Masevice pointed to the “extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic” and disputed that she didn’t cooperate with the scheduling of an IME.  On appeal, Masevice provided updated records, letters/reports from her treating provider, an FCE, a list of medications, and a vocational report.  In their decision noted that “Plaintiff’s concerns about attending the IME in person were valid, given her symptoms and her compromised immune system.”

However, the Court further ruled that more fact-finding was needed in order to determine whether Masevice was eligible for benefits. The Court remanded the case, indicating that Masevice be given the opportunity to submit additional, current medical evidence and that LINA may require that Masevice undergo an in-person IME “now that the COVID-19 crisis has been alleviated.”

This case highlights the importance of understanding the terms and requirements of your individual policy.  If you are facing an IME and have questions, please feel free to reach out to one of our attorneys directly.

Every claim is unique and the discussion above is only a limited summary of the court’s ruling in this case. If you are concerned that your insurer is not evaluating your claim under the proper standard, an experienced disability insurance attorney can help you assess the situation and determine what options, if any, are available.

[1] Masevice v. Life Ins. Co. of North America, Case No. 1:22CV223, 2023 WL 2534042 (N.D. Ohio March 16, 2023).


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