Principal was founded more than 140 years ago and offers insurance and financial management services in more than 80 countries and territories. It is the third-largest provider of group insurance benefits, including disability insurance, in the United States. A Fortune 500 company, Principal reported more than $14 billion in total revenue in 2018.
How did Principal grow from a tiny life insurer in Des Moines, Iowa to one of the world’s largest financial management and insurance companies? While many factors come into play, the company is laser-focused on profitability, cutting costs, and shareholder dividends.
Unfortunately, this means Principal takes an aggressive stance when evaluating disability insurance claims, especially those for long-term disability.
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Principal LTD Claim
If you’re filing for disability insurance benefits with Principal, you need to be well-prepared. To give yourself a fighting chance, we encourage you to follow these five suggestions at every step of your claim or lawsuit.
1. Get Consistent Medical Care
When people ask us how to bolster their long-term disability insurance claims, our top reply is always, “Communicate with your doctor.” Insurance companies and courts rely heavily on medical records when they evaluate a claim’s validity. While your input is important, medical records provide a more complete level of insight.
- Objective tests, like MRIs and bloodwork, can help identify the cause of your pain and symptoms.
- Your doctor will track the progression of your conditions and whether they improve with treatment.
- Your providers’ suggested work restrictions can help your legal team determine whether you’re disabled under your disability insurance plan.
When your doctors’ records align with your reported limitations, you gain credibility. Furthermore, most disability insurance companies will not consider “self-reported” conditions. You need a doctor’s diagnosis to include them in your application. This means that you need to maintain open communication with your doctor. Attend every scheduled appointment, and answer their questions honestly.
2. Don’t Expect Principal to Build Your Case for You
When you complete your long-term disability application, you’ll include a detailed list of your medical providers and sign a medical release. While Principal may order some of your medical records, you should never expect them to do a thorough job.
When we review LTD files, we frequently discover that Principal’s adjusters didn’t request all of the essential information or denied the claim before they had a complete record. To avoid this, you and your disability insurance lawyer should provide Principal with as much information as possible — including your medical records, doctors’ statements, and other essential evidence.
You also need to start building your evidence right away. If your claim involves an employer-sponsored LTD plan, you have a very limited time to complete your evidentiary record.
RELATED: “Self-Reported” Symptoms: How to Fight Back With Medical Evidence
3. Prepare Yourself for Surveillance
Principal and many other disability insurance companies rely heavily on surveillance. They hire private investigators that will follow you, study your social media profiles, and look for evidence that you’re exaggerating your symptoms.
Many times, what they “uncover” isn’t that harmful. However, the insurance company might still try to argue that a Facebook picture of you at the park with your grandchild is proof that you’re capable of working.
To protect yourself, make all of your social media profiles private, and ask your friends not to “tag” or post about you. You should also do your best to follow your doctors’ restrictions. If they say you shouldn’t lift more than five pounds, don’t try to lift a 20-pound bag of dog food at the grocery store.
Finally, if Principal’s adjuster asks you for an in-person meeting at your house, politely decline. Sometimes, insurance company representatives use these meetings to scout your home and look for evidence that you’re more active than you claim. Instead of meeting with an adjuster alone, contact an ERISA lawyer and ask for assistance.
RELATED: Can Your Social Media Feed Hurt Your Disability Insurance Claim?
4. Pay Attention to Deadlines
If Principal asks you to return a form within 30 days, you should do your best to meet this deadline. Sometimes, the company’s adjusters will deny LTD claims due to “noncompliance” and missing forms. To protect yourself, schedule reminders in your phone and mark deadlines carefully on your calendar.
More importantly, both state and federal laws impose strict appeal deadlines in disability insurance claims. If your claim involves an employer-sponsored benefit plan, a federal law (ERISA) applies. In an ERISA claim, you must complete an insurance-level appeal before you can file a lawsuit — and you only have 180 days to submit your “administrative appeal.” If you miss this deadline, you could lose your right to LTD benefits.
RELATED: Do You Know the Deadline for Filing Your ERISA Claim?
5. Consult With a Disability Insurance Lawyer
If all of these details make your head spin, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced Illinois disability insurance lawyer. ERISA and other disability insurance claims require intense attention to detail, legal knowledge, and medical know-how.
A skilled and dedicated attorney will work with the insurance company, build your evidentiary record, and keep track of all the necessary deadlines. This lets you focus on your health, not your legal claims.
- Related Article: 5 FAQs About Private Disability Insurance Claims
Bryant Legal Group: Illinois’s Respected Disability Insurance Team
Bryant Legal Group helps people throughout Chicago and Illinois get the disability insurance benefits they deserve. If you have questions about a Principal long-term disability claim, please contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation. We provide our clients with aggressive legal representation and practical advice at every step of their disability journey.
To schedule an appointment, either complete our online form or call us at (312) 561-3010.