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I don't get any errors while launching the .world file

Are you running Gazebo in verbose mode? Like gazebo --verbose? Because you should be getting something like

[Err] [] EXCEPTION: Couldn't Find Parent Link[imu_base]

connect an IMU sensor to a certain link of an animated actor

I did some testing here, and it looks that when you have both <link>s and <skin>s in an actor, the <link>s are not showing on the left panel's link list, but you can see them in the 3D view. And they can't be found when creating the joint... So there's some bug somewhere there.

In any case, I'm not sure if connecting an IMU to an actor would give you the results you expect. The actor's links are animated, not simulated, so their velocities and accelerations are zero. I haven't checked the IMU code, but if it counts on these, then it may not work.