RBC Denies Dentist with Parkinson’s on Private Insurance Policy

RBC Denies Dentist with Parkinson’s on Private Insurance Policy

At age 27, Jennifer Bailey became the first doctor in her family- a Doctor of Dental Surgery. Her only living grandparent, Grandma Pearl, was so pleased that she purchased a dental practice for her. Jennifer could begin treating her own patients right away.

Trembling Hands

After almost 30 years as a dentist, Jennifer had a thriving practice but suffered with chronic pain in her neck and her upper back. These were expected effects of bending over and leaning forward to practise dentistry.

Then she noticed another persistent problem only in that 30th year – one that troubled her daily: trembling hands.

Pivotal Diagnosis

Jennifer understood that trembling hands pose a serious problem in dentistry. After adopting lifestyle changes to ensure that her stress was moderate and sleep always good, she continued to have trembling hands. Then she went to a medical doctor. After examination, her doctor referred her to a neurologist. The neurologist made a tentative diagnosis that would be a turning point in Jennifer’s life: Parkinson’s Disease.

Degenerative Disease

Because accurate diagnosis is a problem with Parkinson’s, the neurologist prescribed drugs to treat the symptoms. If she responded to the drug treatment, then the diagnosis would be confirmed; Jennifer should assume that this degenerative disease would progress.

Covered (probably)

Fortunately, Jennifer had already delegated much of her work to dental assistants whom she would supervise.

Early in her career, she had also purchased private disability insurance through RBC Insurance that would provide monthly income if she could not perform at work before age 65.

Adaptive Action Taken

Despite the reassurance she found in these things, worry and stress began the day she was diagnosed. It increased when her responsiveness to the Parkinson’s drugs confirmed the diagnosis. A serious problem for a dentist, it had now given her new cause for trembling hands. Her medical doctor backed her decision to sell her practice and apply for disability benefits.

Claim Denied

Despite medical proof that she had reached the point where she must stop working, Jennifer could not believe it when RBC denied her insurance benefits. They did not accept the diagnosis and expected her to continue working.

Having secured a buyer for her practice, she found that this put her stress level high. On referral from a medical doctor, she contacted Share Lawyers.

Benefits Won

In mediation with Share Lawyers, RBC argued that Jennifer could continue part-time as a dentist while overseeing the work of dental assistants. This way, she could receive partial benefits. Share Lawyers retorted that dental surgery is delicate work – no place for tremorous hands. Share Lawyers also pointed out that Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease and that Jennifer now faced years of psychological and neurological problems.

Through negotiations at mediation a favourable settlement was reached providing financial security for Jennifer, allowing her to focus on her health, while remaining as active as possible given her chronic illness.*

*All names and identifying details have been changed for confidentiality purposes.

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