I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: May 19, 2021

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Table of Contents

Guardian Life Insurance Review 2020

How Has COVID-19 Affected Guardian Life Insurance?

During the pandemic, employees began working remotely—changing their hours or the way they do their work. Direct-care workers were able to receive COVID-19 testing through mobile units.

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New Products or Changes

Employees working fewer hours or let go still able to receive benefits or extend their payment grace periods. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)  made smaller companies pay sick leave or extensive medical leave due to COVID-19 through the end of 2020. 

Guardian Life is facing difficulty keeping up with employee leave changes due to the pandemic. Guardian is assisting Team Rubicon with distributing COVID-19 vaccines across the nation. 

62% are still working from home and love it, which leaves room in offices for those who can’t work from home. Employees who return to the office must follow guidelines by CDC, OSHA, and their employer. 

Guardian Life in the News

During COVID-19, clients were receiving assistance with getting meals and face masks. Women and minority business owners were receiving economic impact grants during the pandemic.

2021 Latest Reviews

Guardian Life Insurance ranks number 14 out of 23 companies in customer satisfaction according to J.D. Power U.S. Life Insurance Study in 2020. NerdWallet rates it five out of five stars for overall performance.

Considering Guardian Insurance?

Well then, get ready for the most in-depth Guardian Insurance review on the web. Let’s face it, if you want to get the best bang for your buck, you need to do your homework.

That’s why I’m doing a series of reviews to help you cut through the noise – to find the insurer that’s right for YOU!

I can’t stress the importance of investigating the company you’re considering and evaluating them against the top 10 life insurance companies BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.

Why?

’cause it’s gonna save you a lot of CASH!

Table of Contents:

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Brief History of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

guardian insurance logo

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I’m gonna share a little history.

Guardian Insurance was founded in 1860 in New York City.

Originally called the Germania Life Insurance Company of America, Guardian one of the oldest and most established life insurance companies in the United States.

Incredibly, the concept was created in Delmonico’s restaurant, by 21 German-American businessmen led by Hugo Wesendonck, a civil rights lawyer. True story!

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America Today

Guardian Insurance employs approximately 8,000 US employees, with 3,000 financial representatives and operates 70 agencies nationwide.

Products Offered By Guardian Insurance

They’ve got a great selection. Guardian Insurance provides a number of different kinds of products, some of which fall outside the life insurance wheelhouse.

The non-life insurance products they offer are as follows:

Guardian Disability Insurance

  • Guardian Disability Insurance will replace your income if you’re too sick or injured to work. It can also supplement long-term disability coverage that you may have through your employer.

Guardian Insurance: Dental

Guardian Dental Insurance acknowledges that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to dental plans. That’s why that have different offerings…

…but I don’t know what they are because you have to contact a Guardian Dental Insurance Agent to dig up that information.

I prefer transparency, but clearly, they want you to speak to them directly about their products. 

Guardian Vision Insurance

Guardian Vision Insurance gives you access to two of the nation’s largest eye care networks – Vision Service Plan (VSP) and Davis Vision – Guardian Vision Insurance plans make eye care affordable.

Guardian Insurance: Annuities

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company that provides a fixed sum of money annually.

This can help to provide guaranteed income for retirement!

Guardian Insurance offers: 

  • Variable annuities
  • Fixed annuities
  • Income annuities

Guardian Insurance: Wealth Management & Investment

Guardian Insurance knows the importance of managing your wealth and planning for the future. They have financial representatives that can help you with your investments and targets for retirement, including the following:

Guardian Insurance: Workplace Benefits

Guardian Insurance offers a wonderful selection of workplace-related benefits that include:

  • Employee Benefits such as: disability insurance, chronic illness insurance, accident insurance, dental and vision plans, cancer insurance, supplemental insurance or hospital indemnity.
  • Employer Benefits such as: stop-loss insurance (in case you are funding employee healthcare) and absence management insurance
  • 401K: This a great benefit employers can use to help employee retention.

Guardian Insurance clearly has a GREAT selection of workplace benefits and supplementary insurances for employers and employees alike.

They also offer financial planning and wealth management for people who are looking to reach their retirement goals!

Guardian Life Insurance

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America has a pretty standard offering for Term and Permanent insurance.

This is a very important bit of information, because one of the first decisions you have to make is what TYPE of insurance you need:

Guardian Life Insurance: Term

Guardian Life Insurance provides “Level Term Insurance” which means the premiums you pay remain stable for the duration of the term of the policy.

Term lengths available are 10, 15, 20 and 30 years.

The good news is, these policies also come with a conversion feature which allows you to switch all or part of your policy to a permanent product without taking a medical exam.

Guardian Life Insurance: Whole Life

If you’re looking for lifetime protection, Guardian Whole Life Insurance will give it to you. There’s also an added accumulating cash value feature.

Your cash value is the portion of money you can use during your life to pay for certain expenses, like education or funding a more secure retirement.

Guardian Life Insurance Whole Life policies also include potential dividend payments which are dependent on the company’s profits at year’s end.

Dividend payments are not guaranteed, but historically Guardian Life Insurance has paid its policyholders every year since 1868.

Moreover, Guardian Life Insurance offers greater flexibility for policyholders who want to borrow against the cash value accumulated in their whole life insurance policies.

The result? You can now choose between fixed or variable loan interest rates if you borrow against the cash value on the policies’ 10th anniversary.

Remember as with any loan, there is interest attached to your withdrawal. So be sure to speak to your life insurance agent about all the details before you select a whole life policy.

Another offering provided by Guardian Life Insurance is the “Index Participation Feature,” which enables whole life policyholders to link a portion of their cash value to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

Guardian Life Insurance: Universal Life

Guardian Life Insurance provides Universal life,  which is another type of permanent insurance designed to cover you ’til death.

It also has a cash value accumulation feature, but thankfully, Universal life allows for a higher degree of flexibility – which is why we recommend it over Whole Life Insurance.

Guardian Life Insurance: Variable Universal Life

Guardian Life Insurance offers another form of permanent life insurance. Its features are similar to universal life, but it offers one big difference: market participation.

The cash value may be invested in the market through a separate account. If the markets rise, you reap the rewards but you also assume the risks associated with investing in the market – including the risk of losing the principal.

NOTE: This product is offered by prospectus only, which contains very important information about expenses and fees that will be charged to your policy.

Wow looks like a good selection of products – but I have no idea what would work best for ME.

This choice is a VERY important part of the equation:

Now that you know what Guardian Life Insurance Company of America has to offer, it’s time to sit down and figure out what suits your lifestyle.

My agents know that picking the right type of policy will save time, energy and potential frustration.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it 1,000,000 times more – life insurance is NOT a one size fits all deal.

You need to weigh your options before you sign on the dotted line and this holds true for Guardian Life Insurance.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, Term Life Insurance is the right fit for people 9 times out of 10.

Yep! This is something I feel so strongly about that I started the whole life rebellion to keep people from purchasing whole life insurance who don’t need it.

….and Guardian Life Insurance specializes in whole life – so if Term fits you best this may NOT be the company for you.

However, if you are in the position to purchase a whole life policy, I would definitely check out Guardian Life Insurance.

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Why Do We Typically Recommend Term Life Insurance?

Because it’s less expensive and does the job, without the risks involved in an investment aspect of your policy.

Don’t get me wrong. Whole Life Insurance absolutely does work in some circumstances.

If you have a business, an estate to pass on to future generations or have exhausted all of your tax shelters, a Guardian Insurance whole life policy may be your best bet.

If not – BUY Term or Guaranteed Universal Life!

Using permanent life insurance as an investment might make sense for some people in some situations—usually high net-worth individuals looking for a way to minimize estate taxes. For the average person, the odds are poor that permanent life insurance will be a good investment compared with buying term and investing the difference. Investopedia, Is Life Insurance a Smart Investment?

“I want to be covered ’til the day I die. Term seems like too big of a risk.  That’s why I am interested in Guardian Life Insurance…

Yes, there’s that too! I don’t blame you. In that case, we recommend Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance.

One of the biggest drawbacks of Whole Life Insurance is that it is EXPENSIVE and this is no different for Guardian Life Insurance.  

Yes indeed. This has to do with commissions and administrative fees. They inflate your premiums. Not to mention the added risk…

The toughest pill to swallow is that the cash value accumulation feature doesn’t even kick in for YEARS after you pay your initial premiums.

If you are looking for lifetime coverage through Guardian Life Insurance, I would suggest getting a Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance policy.

**NOTE: Please note if you opt for a Guardian Life Insurance Variable Universal Policy and participate in the market, you could get bitten if there is a downturn. BUYER BEWARE!

Life Insurance Riders

Life insurance riders offer protection that is not found in a basic life insurance policy.

These benefits may be provided to the owner of the policy or the beneficiaries and they are something you need to consider if you are shopping for a life insurance policy.

Typically riders are tacked on to the policy for an additional charge although some are free.

Most riders must be purchased when you buy your policy, but some can be purchased after the fact.

Offerings vary greatly from company to company. Let’s see what Guardian Life Insurance offers right now!

Riders: Whole Life

In a nutshell, Guardian life insurance has a variety of riders, but it’s not that easy to find information about them.

While perusing the web, this is what you could find about Guardian Life Insurance riders connected to whole life policies:

  1. DuoGuard: Allows your beneficiary to purchase a new life insurance policy if the original insured dies.
  2. Guaranteed Insurability Option: Guarantees that you may increase coverage on up to eight specific dates without having to prove insurability.
  3. Simplified Insurability Option: You can purchase more coverage using simplified underwriting rules.
  4. Waiver of Premium: If you are total disabled this will pay the premiums on your policy.
  5. Disability: The primary life insurance rider which Guardian sells is Individual Disability Insurance.  The White Coat Investor has a great series on Disability Insurance. Be sure to check it out! Should you become ill or disabled, this rider replaces a percentage of your base salary and supplements the long term disability coverage which you may have through your employer. Furthermore, funds received can be used to pay financial obligations such as student loans and living expenses at a time when your earnings may be diminished.This policy covers you from job to job, consequently, portability is of no concern.
  6. Accelerated Death Benefit for Long Term Care Services Rider: This rider allows you access money from a part of your life insurance policy during your lifetime if you are receiving long term care services due to a chronic illness.

Riders: Universal Life

There are also a number of riders available for Guardian Life Insurance, Universal Life Policies:

  1. Cash Value Enhancement
  2. Waiver of Specified Amount
  3. Waiver of Monthly Deductions
  4. Enhanced Accelerated Benefit
  5. Accelerated Death Benefit
  6. Accidental Death Benefit
  7. Disability Benefit Rider
  8. Guaranteed Insurability Option

The following is available for Guardian Life Insurance Variable Universal Life:

  •  Guaranteed Insurability Option

OK! Well, Guardian Life Insurance sounds pretty good. Sign me up!

Your Health Rating Affects Your Premiums

I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH…

Not all insurance companies are created equal!

If you’ve read any of my reviews you’ll see some common threads and this is probably THE most important.

Insurers vary GREATLY in terms of underwriting and Guardian Life Insurance is no exception.

Some companies are more lenient than others for medical conditions – which can make or break your premiums.

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The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America Underwriting

Your lifestyle also has an effect on the cost of your life insurance premium. Lead a healthy lifestyle, quit smoking, maintain a healthy diet, exercise daily, and undergo regular medical tests to keep abreast of your health condition. How to save money on life and non-life insurance premiums?, Zee News

So what does that mean to someone searching for Guardian Life Insurance Reviews? I’ll give you an example to clarify…

Some companies are MORE lenient for smokers and others are more strict.

The rates you see online all depend on you attaining the rating they used to come up with those figures.

If you apply to the company that’s strict for smoking they’re going to automatically ding your health rating and charge you more than the company that is lenient. 

This is the MAIN reason you should use one of our seasoned independent agents.

Our Agents will sift through your options to target the BEST life insurance company for your particular circumstances…

…and that may not be Guardian Life Insurance!

In other words, what works for your athletic neighbor in their 30’s won’t necessarily work for you if you have diabetes in your 40’s. 

…and we know which ones provide the best fit. DON’T rely on the fairytale! Glass slippers don’t always fit just because you want them too.

Underwriting Comparisons Guardian Life Insurance, Principal & Banner

To give you an idea of how this works, I’ll show you how Guardian Life Insurance compares to 2 other well-known companies, which include Principal Life Insurance and Banner Life Insurance:

Using a “Preferred Plus” rating as the bar, my analysis will take into consideration the following 4 factors:

  • Smoking
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol Levels
  • Family History

We are going to compare Banner, Principal, and Guardian.

Banner Life Insurance

Tobacco

  • No use of nicotine or nicotine based products based in the last 36 months
  • One cigar allowed per month with HO specimen negative for cotinine

Maximum Blood Pressure

  • Blood pressure must be well controlled with or without treatment with the average readings in the past 2 years not greater than 136/86.

Maximum Cholesterol

  • Cholesterol must be 120-300 with or without treatment
  • Ratio may not exceed 4.5 with or without treatment

Family History

  • Must be no cardiovascular disease in either parent or siblings before age 60
  • CAD is disregarded for applicants over age 70 that do not use tobacco
  • Cancer is no longer a factor preventing consideration for preferred class

Principal Life Insurance

Tobacco Use

  • No tobacco use for 2 years ages 20 – 70
  • No tobacco use for 3 years ages 71 – 85
  • The exception is 12 or fewer cigars per year with negative urine 

Maximum Blood Pressure

  • Cannot exceed 140/85 for ages 20 – 44
  • Cannot exceed 140/90 for ages 45 – 64
  • Cannot exceed 145/90 for ages 65 -85

Maximum Cholesterol

  • Ages 20 – 64 Total cholesterol cannot exceed 270 or cholesterol/HDL of 5.5
  • Ages 65 – 85 Total cholesterol cannot exceed 280 or cholesterol/HDL of 6.0

Family History

  • No death of family member prior to age 60 due to breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes
  • Family history is not considered for applicants over age 71

Guardian Life Insurance

  • No tobacco for 48 months

Maximum Blood Pressure

  • Untreated: Age 20-39 130/90
  • Untreated: Age 40-54 140/90
  • Untreated: Age 55-69 150/90
  • Untreated: Age 70+ 150/90

Maximum Cholesterol

  • Age 20-39 (220)
  • Age 40-54 (230)
  • Age 55-69 (240)
  • Age 70+ 260 Tchol/HDL 5.0 except 70+ 6.0

Family History

  • No family history of death from cardiovascular disease or cancer prior to age 60
  • For age 70+; at least one parent survived to age 60

How Much Coverage Do You Need?

If you’re considering buying a policy from Guardian life insurance it’s very important to do a financial analysis of your needs

In my experience, this is a pretty eye-opening session for most clients.

When you hear $250K for 30 years it seems like a lot of coverage for a LONG time.

But this really depends on your circumstances.

Some people are financially stable with little to no debt and substantial assets.

If this is the case, maybe you only need 20 years of coverage for a $200K loan taken to finance a business. In this situation, $500k for 30 years would be overkill.

Then again maybe you owe more than $500k on your mortgage, have debt and are the main breadwinner. In this case, $250K for 30 years would be woefully inadequate. 

The key is to figure out what your family needs to maintain their current lifestyle. Which means you need to take a cold hard look at the bottom line.

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Summary of Guardian Insurance

Insurance is more complicated than most people know.

If nothing else, this Guardian Insurance review illustrates just how many factors you need to consider before you purchase ANY kind of insurance policy – not to mention life insurance.

Sure, Guardian Insurance is a GREAT company.

…BUT there are pros and cons for EACH insurer and Guardian Insurance is no exception.

Financial Stability

Hey Chris, you always talk about stability…how does Guardian Life Insurance fare?

Excellent question! Let’s take a look.

The nation’s top financial rating companies provide a detailed analysis of the current and future stability of life insurers that every policyholder should be aware of.

A high rating means the insurer has sufficient cash reserves to honor all commitments to policyholders, which is especially important for people deciding which insurer to select.

Guardian Insurance is extremely stable financially and as a result, AM Best and others have rewarded their excellence with top ratings.

Check out all the accolades below!

  • A.M. Best Company – A++ (Superior – highest of 15 ratings)
  • Fitch – AA+ (Very Strong – 2nd highest of 21 ratings)
  • Moody’s Investors Service – Aa2 (Excellent – 3rd highest of 21 ratings)
  • Standard & Poor’s – AA+ (Very Strong – 2nd highest of 22 ratings)
  • Comdex Ranking: 98

Well as you can see, Guardian Insurance has not only been around for a long time, but they run a tight ship.

This is one of their biggest strong points. 

If financial stability is your concern, you can’t go wrong with a Guardian Insurance policy, they are about as stable as they come.

Guardian performed well in 2016, ending the year with $7.4 billion in capital and $66.5 billion in assets under management.

Furthermore, operating income, before tax and dividends, was recorded at $1.5 billion.

Wow!

Guardian Insurance Provides a Good Selection of Products

Guardian Insurance offers a wide variety of products.

Whether you are looking to plan for your retirement or want a dental plan, vision plan or workplace benefits, Guardian Insurance has something for you.  

As for Guardian Life Insurance, they have a standard offering which includes Term, Whole Life, Guaranteed Universal Life, and Variable Universal Life.

Cost of Guardian Life Insurance

The word on the internet is that there are definitely cheaper alternatives than Guardian Insurance.

It’s tough to come up with a definitive comment about pricing because Guardian Insurance doesn’t provide quick quotes for people looking for information on any of their products.

In my opinion, if you have any medical conditions, you may be able to qualify for a better life insurance rating with another insurer.

If you are talking about Term Life Insurance, that would be HUGE savings over 10, 20 or 30 year terms.

Once again this compels me to remind you to obtain a quote from an independent agent, such as Huntley Wealth.

Guardian Insurance Customer Service

Unfortunately, it seems that there are a number of people who aren’t satisfied with the customer service they received at Guardian Insurance Company. 

Although I will note that most of the complaints I found on Yelp were connected to dental and disability insurance.

Some good news for people looking for Guardian Life Insurance? I’m not sure.

In terms of official consumer complaints filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Guardian Insurance did better than average.

A median score is 1, and anything less than this figure means that few complaints were received.

Guardian Life Insurance got a .05 as of 2016.

Guardian Life Insurance is Committed to Permanent Insurance

Another issue I would like to mention in connection with Guardian Life Insurance is their agents tend to promote Permanent policies over Term.

This is especially relevant because we remain firmly committed to the belief that most Americans are better off buying term and investing the difference.

In conclusion, with a little elbow grease and the right agent, you may be able to come up with a policy that better suits your personal needs.

Guardian Insurance Quotes

So first and foremost, if you are looking for some real-time rates for any products, you’re out of luck. 

From what I have been able to ascertain, you have to contact Guardian Insurance directly to get that information.

Sigh…

I really like it when a company is transparent when it comes to that information. When I looked for quotes for Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, this is what I found.

You plug in your zip code…..

….and voila! Up comes a list of captive agents for you to contact.

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Guardian Life Insurance Agents vs. Independent Agents

Which inevitably brings me to using captive agents. 

All Guardian Insurance Agents have ONE goal and that’s to sell you Guardian Insurance products – whether it’s a Life Insurance product, or one of their other offerings.

Hey, this is great – IF Guardian Insurance’s underwriting guidelines fit your personal situation. If not, you could be paying thousands of dollars more over the course of your policy.

That’s why I say – run – don’t walk to your nearest independent life insurance agent. An independent agent, like us, can help target the best insurer for YOU.