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Prudential has long been our go to company for those whose weight just wouldn’t garner an approval from any other companies. It wasn’t preferred plus rates with heavier builds, but it was an approval and it was the only place to find one in so many instances.

Let me preface ripping Pru’s head off by saying that I still use them and they are still industry leaders in a lot of underwriting areas, so I won’t throw the baby out with the bath water (how old am I?). Allow me to offer kudos to Pru for offering the underwriting they did for as long as they did. No other company except for the late, great US Financial even came close. It opened doors for many of my clients to get the family protection they wanted and needed and for that I and they are grateful…….but

Prudential made the change from a build chart to a BMI chart with almost no notice to agents about the new charts and how they would impact underwriting. I understand if a company decides that they have mis-perceived a mortality risk and need to correct that. I also understand that they might want to make the change with no pre warning so that impaired risk life insurance agents like me wouldn’t send in a slew of last minute applications that met the old guidelines but not the new. But Pru was largely silent about the change which left agents like me who depend on up to date guidelines to get our clients with the right company and to give sound advice, quoting with the wrong information.

Pru contends that they did release the new BMI guidelines by putting them on their website, but I don’t have time to dig through every company website even monthly to try to detect changes. All they needed to do is email the agents and general agents and say that after reassessing the mortality experience linked to those who are morbidly obese they are changing their guidelines immediately and, oh by the way, here’s a copy of the new guidelines. My blog is full of posts about the underwriting for obesity, from the Biggest Loser and Fat March series some years ago to just ongoing mentions that, for instance, someone 6′ and 405#, as long as there were no collateral health issues, could get approved by Pru. That approval threshold has now dropped to 6′ and 368#, a cutoff at a BMI of 50 for all heights. Pru also used to have a different build chart for over 50 life insurance and they haven’t indicated what changes will be made there.

The other issue I take with this change, although I still understand Pru’s need to underwrite risk correctly, is that with BMI there is no offset for where you maintain the majority of your M (mass). A person 6′, 275# with a 40″ chest and a 50″ waist has the same BMI has their upside down mirror image with a 50″ chest and 40″ waist. From a medical risk look we know that #2 is a lot more likely to have collateral health issues primarily due to the obvious that waist size is far more likely to involve more fat than chest size. I think if BMI or height/weight  is the standard there should be offsetting credits for people that are doing their best to carry the weight in appropriate areas.

Bottom line. I’m bummed about the change and don’t like the way it was handled by Prudential, but it is what it is. If you are overweight and have been declined or treated unfairly because of that in the life insurance process, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.