Limited Conditions Provisions: A Case Study
Musculoskeletal conditions, including back pain, of all different types can be debilitating and seriously impede your ability to practice. However, newer disability policies may exclude or limit recovery for conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and diseases or disorders of the cervical, thoracic, or lumbosacral back and its surrounding soft tissue, or sprains or strains of joints or muscles. If your policy contains this type of exclusion, your benefits may be limited to a shorter payout. For example, 24 months, instead of to age 65 or lifetime benefits.
One such example of this situation is the case of Zall v. Standard. Dr. Zall was the co-owner of a dental practice when he began experiencing pain and numbness in his neck and in his thumb, and two fingers in his right hand. Symptoms of neck pain and numbness began in 2011 and he was evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon and an MRI showed disc herniation at C5-C6 that was contributing to severe foraminal narrowing. In 2013 the same doctor found Dr. Zall’s symptoms consistent with a herniated disc and intermittent radiculopathy. Dr. Zall shortly thereafter filed a claim with his insurer, Standard.
In Dr. Zall’s case, his policy contained an “other limited conditions” exclusion that limited recovery for musculoskeletal conditions. Benefits could only be secured if the claim was based on a herniated disc or radiculopathy verifiable with tests (EMGs and MRIs). Standard initially approved Dr. Zall’s claim; however, upon later review Standard determined that the “other limited conditions” exclusion did apply, and stopped paying benefits.
Standard argued that later medical records did not establish that Dr. Zall’s symptoms were any longer attributable to either radiculopathy or a herniated disc. They based this decision on reviews by opinions of four board-certified physicians they had had review the file. The Court agreed with Standard, indicating that it was neither arbitrary or capricious for Standard to conclude that Dr. Zall’s disability was caused or contributed something else, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or degenerative disc disease.
If you are wondering whether your policy has an “other limited conditions” provision, and how it might affect your claim, please feel free to reach out to one of our attorneys directly.
 Zall v. Standard Ins. Co., 21-CV-19-slc, 2021 WL 6112638 (W.D. Wisc. Dec. 27, 2021).
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 using any of the tactics above to evaluate your claim, an experienced disability insurance attorney can help you assess the situation and determine what options, if any, are available.