Company Denies Man Life Insurance Due to Weight Loss

A North Texas man has dedicated the last year to getting healthy, so imagine his surprise when an insurance company denied him life insurance because of his weight loss.

Gary Roberts said he lost 40 pounds by walking more and eating less. He'd been walking by his wife's side for nearly 54 years and wanted to continue supporting her even when he's not around.

"If something did happen to me, I wanted my wife, Kathy, to be comfortable," he said. "I didn't want her to have to worry about anything."

So Roberts started shopping for an additional life insurance policy. At 73-years-old, he expected to pay a lot. One company did offer him a $50,000 policy, but he didn't take it because he thought the prices were too high.

"I really had gone in just asking for a $100,000 policy, which I didn't think was out of line," he said.

Roberts and his doctor never expected the next company's response, though.

"He was as flabbergasted as I was," Roberts said.

After an in-home medical exam in August, Prudential sent Roberts a denial letter last month that stated "I'm sorry to inform you that we will not be able to offer you a policy because of your weight loss over the last year."

In November of 2014, Roberts said he weighed 278 pounds.

"I now weigh 239 pounds," he said. "So nearly 40 pounds. And that's in about 10 months."

Doctors are telling Roberts he's healthier than ever, including a doctor in his family.

"You can look at those labs and see that that's a healthy individual," Roberts' son Dr. Stockton Roberts said. "You don't need to know his age. You need to look at those labs and say those labs show no tendency at all of a person that has cancer or metabolic problem that's going on that's caused that weight loss."

But the Texas Association of Life and Health Insurers said life insurance products can vary depending on the person's needs. And the Insurance Information Institute said it seems reasonable to reconsider him when they are certain the weight loss can be sustained and not related to a problematic health condition.

"It said in sixth months we will reconsider if your weight loss is not continuing," Roberts said of the denial letter.

So if Roberts doesn't lose any more weight by April, Prudential wrote they will reconsider his application. But for Roberts' family who've watched him change his bad habits, that option is frustrating. Roberts said he has no plans to change his new lifestyle.

"I'll be satisfied with myself that I know that I'm going to be better off whether they say I am or not," he said.

NBC 5's Ellen Bryan reached out to Prudential more than two weeks ago and they said they would look into Roberts' case. Prudential contacted Roberts Wednesday to say he's been approved for life insurance at a rate lower than he was originally quoted.

Contact Us