Anthony Flaaen experienced an on-the-job back injury working as a truck driver in the Seattle – Tacoma, Washington area. His injury permanently disabled him. His work-sponsored long-term disability plan through Principal Life Insurance covered his injury until an overly inflated social media post led to a halt in his benefits. That’s when Anthony hired the expert attorneys at Roy Law Group. We were able to overturn the denial, settling Anthony’s case so that he could recover the income that he deserved.

Approved and then denied by Principal Life Insurance

Like many long-haul truck drivers, Anthony experienced an on-the-job injury to his back that permanently disabled him. His company, located in Texas, had a long-term disability plan in place through Principal Life Insurance to cover injuries like his. Anthony filed a long-term disability claim that was honored in January of 2007.

Anthony was deemed incapable of continuing his occupation as a truck driver. He did, however, qualify for retraining, which enabled him to get his associate degree in Art, Media, and Design.

However, replacing the income that Anthony made driving was easier said than done. Even with his new degree, it was a brand-new career he was embarking on. And Principal Life Insurance was watching and monitoring every step he took.

In December of 2014, Anthony’s benefits were terminated. With the inability to fight the case on his own, Anthony hired Roy Law Group to take on Principal Life Insurance.

Insurance companies are always watching

Like any other insurance company, Principal Life Insurance is a business first and foremost. Your livelihood is secondary to their profits.

When you file a long-term disability claim, and it is approved, it does not end there. Insurance companies have hundreds of investigators, doctors, and lawyers that are there to deny benefits.

In this case with Anthony, and like all of the cases we deal with at Roy Law Group, Principal Life Insurance did just that.

Read more: 3 Reasons Why Long-Term Disability Claims Are Denied

It all came down to Anthony’s online presence

Anthony had posted that he had a production company since 2010 on LinkedIn, including a link to his company website which showed that he had employees. This was his way of marketing himself, when in fact there were no employees, those were just classmates.

According to the law and his policy, if he could make sixty percent of his previous income as a trucker, then Principal Life Insurance had every right to halt benefits. Based on his online presence, the insurance company made an inaccurate assumption that Anthony was capable of making sixty percent of his prior income.

Principal Life Insurance made glaring mistakes

If Anthony had proceeded without a disability lawyer, the fine print could have been the end of his case. He would have been out the money he rightfully deserved.

Instead, Roy Law Group determined that Principal Life Insurance’s income data was unreasonable and inaccurate. They looked at median national wages and not local entry-level state data in order to assess salary rates. Further, they did not perform adequate outreach to companies with job postings that were similar to his title on LinkedIn.

It turned out, through Roy Law Group’s investigation, that Anthony was unemployable in four of the five occupations that were included in Principal Life Insurance’s denial. Additionally, he was re-entering the labor market after being out of work entirely for eight years.

Multiple state laws in play

To further complicate things, Anthony’s case was being managed in Washington State, where he lived – but the disability insurance plan was issued in Texas, where the trucking company was headquartered. Principal Life Insurance had a discretionary clause that stated it had the sole authority to determine the validity of Anthony’s disability claim. In Texas, that discretionary clause was legal. In Washington, discretionary clauses are prohibited.

If the Texas law applied, then Anthony would have to prove that Principal Life Insurance Company’s disability denial had no reasonable basis whatsoever, which is nearly impossible.

However, in an unprecedented win, Roy Law Group argued and established that Washington State’s ban on discretionary clauses took legal precedence over Texas law. This invalidated Principal Life Insurance Company’s discretionary clause.

This was a huge win, not only for Anthony but for any case that follows of a similar nature.

This was a huge win, not only for Anthony but for any case that follows of a similar nature.

Roy Law Group beat out Principal Life Insurance, overturning the denial. Then we won again after the insurance company appealed the ruling, eventually settling Anthony’s case so he could recover the income that he deserved.

Since this case, claimants just like Anthony who are based in Washington State have used this court ruling to invalidate discretionary clauses in disability insurance policies that are issued in other states.

Read the full court ruling for Flaaen v. Principal Life Insurance here.

Don’t go up against big insurance companies alone

If you have been denied on your long-term disability claim, don’t go at it alone. You are not an attorney, and companies like Principal Life Insurance have hundreds of attorneys ready to take you on.

Roy Law Group has a compassionate team of experts who do disability law and nothing else.

Contact Roy Law Group right away to set up your consultation.