Guardian Life Summary
Guardian Life Insurance Company of America was founded in 1860 as a mutual firm selling life and supplemental health insurance products. The company also sells some group medical and dental benefits as well as financial products like 401(k)s and annuities.
The company was founded in New York City, where it continues to be headquartered. It is today one of the largest mutual life insurers in the country as well as one of the largest dental networks nationwide. Altogether, Guardian employs around 5,400 people and operates more than 80 agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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Here are the primary life insurance products sold by Guardian:
- Term Life – The simplest and most affordable policy. It’s sold in terms of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. If the policyholder dies at any point during that time, the full value of the death benefit is given to the beneficiaries. Otherwise, the policy must be renewed at the end of the term. These policies have no cash value and do not act as investments.
- Whole Life – Lasts until the insured dies, stops paying premiums or decides to change coverage. A portion of each premium is invested, allowing the policy to grow a cash value that can be borrowed against. Premiums are steady throughout the insured’s life, but much more expensive than term policies.
- Universal Life – A permanent policy with an investment component. Policies last for the duration of the insured’s life as long as premiums continue to be made. Unlike whole life, however, universal life payments are flexible, and can be changed during the duration of the insured’s lifetime.
Aside from life insurance, Guardian also sells disability insurance, which provides alternative income to individuals who are rendered disabled by an accident or illness.
Guardian is a provider of group benefits plans for employers to offer their workers. Several group plans are available, including dental, disability, critical illness and life insurance. These plans are meant to work alongside major medical insurance, acting as a supplement. Group policies offer an attractive rate, and the premiums are withdrawn directly from the paychecks of enrolled employees.
Aside from the supplemental protection coverages mentioned above, Guardian also offers a Section 125 reimbursement plan for employers to reimburse certain qualified medical expenses of their workers. Finally, companies with self-funded insurance can purchase stop-loss coverage from Guardian to protect against potentially costly medical claims.
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While going over their website, it is clear that they try and push clients towards expensive products like whole life insurance and away from affordable ones like term life insurance. Their sales copy on their life insurance pages weighs heavily in favor of the expensive products while downplaying the benefits of term. They even have a table that outlines the benefits of whole life over term, but neglects to show the benefits of term.
In general, whole life insurance is very expensive. Read our write up about why we believe term life is better than whole life.
The claims process for Guardian depends on the policy the claim will be filed against. Different forms are used by individual or group coverage members, and each policy will have its own claims form and process.
In general, it’s best to route all claims questions through a Guardian agent to ensure that the appropriate form is filled out for a given type of claim. This will reduce delays in processing.
Guardian Life Insurance has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 1957, and it has an “A+” rating on the site. In the last three years, just 19 complaints have been closed against the company, with 10 having been closed in the last 12 months. The lack of consumer complaints is likely due in part to the bulk of its business being done in group policies.
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People in the insurance industry understand there is a lot more money to be made by selling expensive permanent life insurance products over term insurance. In fact, companies and agents can often make upwards of 10 times the commission by putting someone in whole life vs. term. There are many scenarios where term would be the better choice, but companies and agents chase the dollars instead. It is disturbing that Guardian makes such a public attempt at steering people in one direction before even finding out their personal situation.
If you are planning on buying a life insurance policy from Guardian, make sure you understand what you are looking for. There is evidence that they may try and steer you towards a more expensive product. We see this far too often in the insurance business.
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About the Author
I am a former insurance agent turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.