Getting a loan from the bank is already a complicated business, but a Maltese woman’s attempt to do so was rendered impossible after she was turned down for being overweight.
Two years after the case, former X Factor Malta singer Celine Agius took to Facebook to describe her experience.
“Like many Maltese, I needed a bank loan to buy a house. It was stressful enough, but I wanted to do it because owning your own home in Malta… it’s practically “a must”.
Her journey began the same as most, liaising with bank officials, notaries and architects, all of whom she had to pay for their respective services at just 24 years old.
“The whole process was already a big problem. But we were almost there. The promise of sale was ready, all that remained was to settle the life insurance contract from the bank since I was taking out a fairly large loan. .
But when Celine got to the business end of the life insurance deal arrangements, she was slapped with a medical exam. A standard procedure used by banks before issuing a loan.
The exam includes blood tests, blood pressure and blood sugar checks, and other things, but at its core, it means having a “healthy weight.”
“I went from insurance to insurance, physically speaking with many doctors along the way, and everyone turned me down because of my weight. Because I had an obesity problem.
“According to their risk assessment, anyone who is obese is ‘discriminated against’ and cannot get the loan. As if an obese person didn’t need a roof over his head.
At the time, Celine weighed 180kg. But she had already started correcting the problem, working alongside a nutritionist to lose weight. Eventually, she burned a staggering 50 kg.
After losing so much weight, she made a second attempt to settle her life insurance policy, but was again turned down because she was still ‘classified as obese’.
Additionally, she alleged that the insurance company gave her two months to lose another 20kg, so that she fell into “a healthy weight range”.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Celine shared how the continued rejections led her down a different path. Towards depression, and inevitable weight gain.
“I got depressed and regained all the weight I had lost. All of my hard work, it all backfired.
“I was losing weight and feeling better, but it still wasn’t enough for the insurance company. They refused me again and again.
Eventually, Celine had to stop her pursuit of the dead loan in its tracks. But that did not prevent him from remunerating his notary for his services until then.
She also lost a deposit she had paid for a kitchen she planned to install in her new home.
“I wanted to get my story across because it’s not a story that’s ‘out in the open’. And it’s an unpleasant experience that anyone who is overweight can have to deal with.
“It’s important for people to be aware of this hurdle before committing to a loan.”
“I don’t feel like the banks and insurance companies really recognize the effort that goes into trying to be healthier, they just call you ‘overweight’ and send you on your way .”
No matter how you slice it, obesity can reduce life expectancy by years. Up to three years in moderate cases and up to 10 years in severe cases.
It does this because, in an obese person, there is a higher chance of developing serious diseases like cancer, diabetes or heart disease.
With Malta officially being the most obese country in the European Union, the problem Celine faced could be one faced by many others in the country.
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