One of the first things any new life insurance agent will learn in this industry is that regardless of how great a particular life insurance company is, one insurance company can’t be the “best” for everyone.
Which is why…
We here at IBUSA choose to work with dozens of different life insurance companies like Guardian Life. While they may not be the best fit for everyone, it’s difficult to imagine a better option in some situations.
Especially if someone isn’t sure whether they should purchase a term life insurance policy or a whole life insurance policy.
But, more on that later, for now, let us begin our discussion explaining who Guardian Life Insurance is and how they have achieved their success thus far to date.
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About Guardian Life
With a history stretching back before the Civil War, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America is a Fortune 500 mutual insurance company—one of the largest and oldest in the country.
In addition to life insurance, New York-headquartered Guardian Life also offers health, dental, vision, and disability insurance, along with retirement-planning, mutual funds, and other investment options.
Guardian Life is a well-established company, with 29 million current customers in its various product lines. Guardian also provides and helps administer a series of employee benefits.
Guardian is an exceptionally strong company financially, with a relatively conservative investment philosophy and high capital reserves.
As of 2019, Guardian had nearly $80 billion in assets under management and a whopping $700 billion worth of in-force life insurance.
The company paid nearly a billion in policyholder dividends in 2019 and brought in almost $10 billion through policyholder premiums.
Guardian markets its life insurance policies through a network of agents throughout the country.
Unlike many other insurers these days, Guardian doesn’t have an online-purchasing option or any simplified-issue (i.e., no-exam) policies.
Some of Guardian’s life insurance offerings are only available to employees through employer-sponsored plans. This review focuses on products that are available to individual consumers.
Guardian Life Financial Ratings
A.M. Best: A++
S&P Global: AA+
Comdex Ranking: 99
In terms of financial ratings, it’s possible to score better than Guardian Life, but not by much as it ranks as one of the highest rated companies in the U.S.
The company maxes out A.M. Best and S&P’s ratings and receives the second highest available scores from Moody’s and Fitch. The prospects of Guardian failing to meet its policy obligations anytime soon are very small.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Guardian receives significantly fewer consumer complaints compared to other insurers its size.
Guardian also received a well-above-average customer satisfaction score from J.D. Power and has been recognized by J.D. Power for its “outstanding customer service experience.”
Products Offered by Guardian Life:
- Term Life Insurance
- Whole Life Insurance
- Universal Life Insurance
- Long-Term Care Insurance
- Annuities, Mutual Funds, and other investment options
- Retirement Planning and Wealth Management
- Employee Benefits Administration
Life Insurance Policies Offered by Guardian Life
Guardian Level Term:
The pros and cons of Guardian Life Term Insurance is this. It is great if you want convertible term insurance that can be converted to a solid permanent life insurance policy down the road.
But the negative is that you will pay for that benefit, because Guardian’s term life insurance rates are much higher than many of its competitors.
Guardian Life’s level-term life insurance offering is available to new policyholders between ages 20 and 75. Initial policy terms are 10, 15, 20, or 30 years, though longer terms aren’t available for older applicants. The 20-year term, for instance, is only available through age 65.
After the initial term concludes, Guardian Life gives term policyholders the right to renew coverage annually until age 95. No medical exam is required for renewal, but premiums increase significantly after a policy’s initial term.
Term policies include a standard conversion option allowing policyholders to convert a term policy to whole life.
Ordinarily, the conversion option only lasts for the first five years after a policy is issued. However, applicants who want a conversion option that stays effective longer can add a rider that extends the option for a longer period but requires an additional premium.
In most cases, the minimum coverage amount is $250,000, and coverage levels can go as high as $5 million. If a policyholder opts to partially convert term coverage to whole life, the remaining term coverage must be at least $100,000.
Guardian has yet to hop on the no-exam bandwagon that has become a big factor in the life insurance industry. While a few individual applicants can qualify for an exam waiver, the majority will need to undergo a standard medical evaluation as part of the application process.
Guardian Whole Life Insurance:
Guardian offers six different premium-payment variations built around a fairly standard whole life insurance structure.
Guardian’s Whole life policies provide the benefits ordinarily associated with whole life: level premiums, guaranteed coverage for life, cash-value accumulation, and fixed-interest tax-deferred policy growth.
Participating life insurance policies are also eligible for dividend payments, which Guardian has faithfully paid out every year since 1868. Coverage levels start as low as $25,000 and go as high as $5 million.
For eligible whole life policyholders, Guardian also makes available an “index participation feature,” which allows the policyholder to tie growth of paid-up additions to an equity index, such as the S&P.
Paid-up additions allow you to buy paid up life insurance, which helps increase your cash value and death benefit. Paid-up additions can be purchased through dividends and increase a policy’s death benefit and cash value.
Policyholders can schedule premiums so that a policy is paid-up when the insured reaches age 65 (“Life Paid-Up at 65”), 95 (“Life Paid-Up at 95”), 99 (“Life Paid-Up at 99”), or 121 (“Life Paid-Up at 95,” effectively for life). When a policy is “paid-up,” the coverage remains in place, but no additional premium payments are required. 10 Pay Whole Life and 20 Pay Whole Life options, where premiums are scheduled to last ten or twenty years, respectively, are also available.
Guardian is one of the very few life insurance companies who will issue whole life coverage to HIV-positive applicants. If an applicant with HIV is under age 60, responding favorably to treatment from a specialist for two years or more, and does not have any complicating conditions, he or she may be able to obtain permanent coverage.
EstateGuard Whole Life
This is a whole life policy covering two insureds (usually spouses) that includes a survivorship feature. The second-to-die whole life policy is designed to facilitate efficient transfer of wealth as part of an estate plan and allows increases to the coverage amount within the first few years after a policy is issued.
The death benefit pays out to the named beneficiary upon the death of the second spouse, though cash value increases upon the first spouse’s death. The increase protects the surviving spouse in the event additional resources are needed for support late in life.
EstateGuard’s minimum coverage amount is $100,000, and coverage goes as high as $5 million, which can be further increased through an optional survivorship insurance purchase option. New insureds can be anywhere from 20 to 90 years old.
A long-term care rider is available for an additional premium. If selected, either insured can accelerate up to half of the policy’s death benefit to cover costs associated with long-term care.
Final Expense (whole life):
Guardian Life is not currently offering a final expense insurance policy option. National Guardian Life Insurance Company, an insurer that specializes in final-expense policies, is not affiliated with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.
Guardian Current Assumption Universal Life:
Guardian’s standard UL policy is available for new insureds aged 18 through 85, in coverage amounts from $100,000 to $5 million.
As universal life coverage, policies divide premiums between cost of insurance (COI) and a cash-value account. The COI, which can increase over time, is effectively a policy’s minimum required premium to keep lifetime UL coverage in place.
Policyholders can choose to pay more to increase cash value, which is why UL is often said to have a flexible premium structure.
Cash value earns guaranteed growth at return rates tied to the performance of Guardian’s general account assets, but guaranteed to be at least 2.5% annually.
Guardian’s universal life policies are also eligible for an index participation rider, which allows policyholders to link part of a policy’s cash value growth to an equity index, such as the S&P 500.
Unlike whole life policies, Guardian UL policies are not eligible for dividends.
Variable Universal Life:
Guardian Life’s variable UL policy is designed as a means of providing both a permanent death benefit and cash value with legitimate potential for growth.
Policy growth is measured based on the performance of market-linked investments the policyholder selects from among a basket of investment options provided by Guardian.
The investment options are comparable to mutual funds, allowing a policy’s cash value to benefit from strong market performance. However, variable growth is not guaranteed, and policies can lose value if investments perform poorly.
Guardian’s variable UL policies are issued by a wholly-owned subsidiary, The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, Inc.
Survivorship Universal Life:
Like the whole-life survivorship policy, Guardian’s survivorship UL policy covers two insureds between ages 20 and 90 (usually spouses or business partners) and is designed principally for estate planning.
Upon the first insured’s death, the surviving insured has unrestricted access to the policy’s cash value.
When the second insured dies, the policy’s death benefit is paid to beneficiaries tax-free.
Amounts withdrawn from cash value can potentially reduce the death benefit.
The minimum coverage amount for Survivorship UL is $250,000
Available Life Insurance Riders
Waiver of Premium for Disability: If the insured becomes disabled for at least six months prior to reaching age 60, premium obligations are waived for the period while the insured remains disabled. If disability occurs after age 60, the waiver lasts for two years or until the insured reaches age 65 (whichever is later). The waiver of premium rider expires when the insured is 65.
Enhanced Accelerated Benefit Rider: If an insured is diagnosed by a healthcare profession as having less than 12 months to live or a chronic illness with little prospect of recovery, a portion of the policy’s proceeds may be accelerated. Any accelerated amounts are deducted from the future death benefit.
Long Term Care Services Rider: If the insured requires long-term care, the rider accelerates part of the death benefit as a monthly payment intended help defray the associated costs.
Paid-Up Additions Rider: If purchased, the policyholder has the right to buy fully paid-up supplements to the principle coverage.
Guaranteed-Insurability Option Rider: When purchased, this rider gives the policyholder the right to purchase additional coverage at eight specific dates without any additional underwriting.
Charitable Benefit Rider: If purchased, this rider increases a policy’s death benefit by 1%. A charity selected by the policyholder is the beneficiary for the additional benefit amount.