Hartford Insurance Has Asked for an IME: Do You Need a Disability Claims Lawyer?
The Hartford has requested you undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME) and threatened you by saying that if you refuse, your disability benefits will be denied or terminated.
Should you contact an attorney at this point? Yes. Here’s why.
Complaints Mount Against the Hartford by Dissatisfied Disability Insurance Policyholders
Founded more than 200 years ago, The Hartford is one of America’s largest and longest-running insurance companies. The Hartford offers a wide range of insurance products, including disability insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, and homeowners insurance. On the surface, they seem like a solid and reputable company that treats their policyholders fairly, but recent data suggests otherwise.
Hartford Insurance Denied Disability Claims Leads to Poor Reviews and Ratings
The Hartford (as of July 2017) has received a poor one-star rating on a scale of one to five (highest rating) possible based on consumer reviews. by ConsumerAffairs.com. Out of 248 customer reviews, only 6 reviews were positive. Below is an example of the many complaints posted by unhappy policyholders whose disability benefits were delayed or denied by The Hartford:
“My husband has been paying for short-term disability with The Hartford for over 15 years. In March he had surgery and just received a payment for less than $300, this week for one week. Not to mention he has to pay them out of it weekly. We were told the 30-day waiting period is not payable. Bills are piling up, as they request more documentation in order to pay for weeks coming up. This is information that they’ve already received. I feel this company is scamming individuals for money. I would never recommend them to anyone. Has anyone sued this company before?.” — Deshonna, Thomasville, GA, May 4, 2017
What is an IME and Why Do Insurers Require Them?
An independent medical examination (IME) is when a doctor/ physical therapist/ chiropractor/ psychologist/ neuropsychologist who has not previously been involved in a person’s care examines an individual. Insurance companies work with medical professionals who they think may favor the interest of the insurance company, however, an IME doctor is required to be objective based on the information they have and not show favor to one party or the other. The best way to “steer” a doctor towards a decision in favor of The Hartford is to only provide information to the IME doctor that they want to be considered.
Insurers require IMEs to keep down their own costs. Although the majority of those who file disability claims have legitimate claims, there are those who take advantage of insurers and file false claims. Insurance fraud is an expensive crime, and deceives insurance companies making it more challenging for those with real disabling conditions to get their benefits. Because of fraud, and the need to make a profit, insurance companies generally work from the “not disabled until proven otherwise to us” approach for the majority of claims.
What to Expect if The Hartford Asks for an Independent Medical Exam
An IME doctor may not receive all the necessary medical information from The Hartford in order to make an objective decisions about your case. An attorney can make sure the IME doctor knows about all your medical records including, CT scans, x-rays, MRIs, the medications you take or have taken and their side effects, as well as any important notes your own physician may have made about your health status. Incomplete records can lead to a denial of benefits or a discontinuation of benefits.
Although you may be allowed to choose a doctor for the IME, it will be from a list of doctors that The Hartford provides. The chance that you will know anything about their doctors is slim, but assuming the doctor is objective and qualified, remember that he/she can only make a recommendation based on the information they:
(1) get from your records,
(2) their understanding and knowledge about your particular type of illness or injury, and
(3) what they see as most important.
To protect yourself, insist that a third-party witness (of your choice) be present during the entire IME, or that you, your witness, or an independent videographer of your choice, be allowed to video with audio record the exam. Unfortunately, The Hartford is not likely to permit this unless you have an attorney because it documents the thoroughness or lack of thoroughness by the IME doctor. It is likely, however, that someone working for, or on behalf of The Hartford will be watching you when you arrive to see how your disability affects you. They are looking for inconsistencies as simple as walking in with a cane, and not using one on the way out.
Also, bear in mind that The Hartford, like all disability insurance product companies, does monitor claimants. If you have been requested to submit to an IME, The Hartford most likely has, or will soon, photograph, video, and/or otherwise attempt to document that your disability is not sufficient to pay benefits to you.
Protect Yourself Against Any Potential Confusion About Your Disability That Could Lead to a Denied Claim
It may help to see your own treating physician before and after you have your IME. Your doctor can add any notes that may be important and updates about your condition. If the IME doctor recommends disability benefits, The Hartford will still look at its own surveillance and data records to try and prove that you are exaggerating or even faking your claim. An attorney can advise you how to prepare for the IME, what to expect, how to protect your rights and your benefits, and advise you as to what to do after the IME is over.
A Denied Claim Is Not the End of the Road
The reason you chose The Hartford may very well have been because of their longstanding reputation as a trustworthy insurance provider. If your claim has been denied, you may be tempted to trust that the insurance company has made the right decision. Insurance companies can make mistakes and it is possible that the insurance company is acting in bad faith by denying your claim. We encourage you to let our lawyers review your case. We may be able to help you get insurance benefits even after a denial.
Hartford Disability Claim Disputes and Insurance Bad Faith Attorneys, Serving All California
Are You Involved in an Insurance Dispute With The Hartford?
If you have had an insurance claim denied, delayed or underpaid by The Hartford, the lawyers at Donahue & Horrow, LLP, can help. We have more than 50 years of experience standing up for the rights of insurance policyholders in the Los Angeles area and throughout California.
It is possible that your claim was denied due to The Hartford Insurance Company acting to simply protect its own bottom line. If this is the case, an unreasonable denial of disability benefits can be considered insurance bad faith. Our attorneys can file a lawsuit against the insurance company if it acted in bad faith when denying your disability benefits claim. You might be entitled to additional money through a bad faith lawsuit. This additional compensation might include attorneys fees or damages for emotional distress caused by the denial and subsequent lawsuits. You can trust our Los Angeles-area lawyers to guide you through the process.
All cases are taken on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing and we receive nothing unless you win your case by way of settlement or verdict. Call us toll free at 877-664-5407 or e-mail us to schedule a consultation with our The Hartford claim denial attorneys in California.