Guardian Life Insurance Review 2022

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Guardian Life Insurance
NerdWallet rating 

Bottom line: Guardian stands out for lower than expected consumer complaints and coverage for buyers living with HIV.

Policies offered: Term & permanent.

Financial strength: Exceptional.

Complaints: Far fewer than expected.

Buy online? No.

In our life insurance reviews, our editorial team considers both the customer and the insurer. These are some of the factors we take into account:

Policies offered. There are many types of life insurance on the market, and they fall into three key categories:

  • Term life insurance offers temporary coverage and a guaranteed payout if the policyholder dies during the term.

  • Permanent life insurance typically lasts a lifetime and builds cash value that can be borrowed against in the future.

  • No-exam life insurance issues coverage without the need for a medical exam.

Financial strength. We use A.M. Best ratings to confirm an insurer’s long-term financial stability and ability to pay claims. For life insurance, NerdWallet typically recommends considering insurers with ratings of A- or higher. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Exceptional: A+, A++

  • Strong: A, A-

  • Moderate: B+, B

Complaints. These ratings are based on complaints to state regulators relative to a company’s size, according to three years’ worth of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The best life insurance companies have fewer than the expected number of complaints.

Buy online. This indicates whether an insurer allows you to apply for and buy a policy completely online.

Guardian Life Insurance Co. is a mutual insurance company, meaning it’s owned by its policyholders. Customers who buy whole life insurance can share in annual dividends. The company has paid dividends every year since 1868, and in 2021 paid $1.05 billion to policyholders


Guardian Life insurance


NerdWallet rating 

Guardian Life earned 5 stars out of 5 for overall performance. NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account consumer experience, complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and financial strength ratings.

Based on these ratings, Guardian Life is among NerdWallet’s Best Life Insurance Companies.

Guardian Life insurance pros and cons



Drew significantly fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company its size.

Scored below average in J.D. Power’s 2021 customer satisfaction study for life insurance.

Offers unique coverage options, such as survivorship insurance and policies for HIV-positive applicants.

Guardian Life insurance policies

Life insurance options from Guardian Life include:

Term life insurance: Guardian Life offers policies with terms of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. You can get an estimated quote for term life insurance on the company’s website, but you must contact a company advisor to buy a policy.

Permanent life insurance: Guardian Life offers universal and whole life insurance, including a whole life survivorship policy called Guardian EstateGuard. Survivorship life insurance covers two people — typically a married couple — on one policy. The death benefit is paid to the beneficiary after the second person dies. With the EstateGuard policy, the cash value increases after the first person dies. Another unique feature is that policyholders can add more coverage in the early years of the policy.

Guardian Life also offers whole life policies to healthy people living with HIV. To qualify, an applicant must be:

  • Between 20 and 60 years old.

  • On highly active antiretroviral therapy for two or more years with favorable lab results.

  • Free of any AIDS-defining illnesses.

  • Under the care of a doctor specializing in HIV.

Guardian Life insurance customer complaints and satisfaction

Over three years, Guardian Life has drawn significantly fewer complaints to state regulators than expected for a company of its size, according to a NerdWallet analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Additionally, Guardian Life ranked 11th out of 21 companies in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Life Insurance Study for overall customer satisfaction


More about Guardian Life insurance

Guardian Life’s website offers plenty of general information about life insurance, though it lacks specifics on the company’s own offerings. You can use the company’s term life insurance calculator to see how much coverage you need and get a quote.

Policyholders can make payments and view documents on the company’s website or mobile app.

In addition to life insurance, Guardian offers other financial products and services, including:

  • Disability income insurance.

  • Annuities.

  • Wealth management and investments.

  • Individual dental and vision insurance.

  • Critical illness and accident insurance.

  • Workplace benefits, including a college tuition benefit.

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Life insurance buying guide

Before you start comparing companies, choose the type of life insurance you want, such as term or whole life. Decide which life insurance riders, if any, you want the policy to include. Calculate how much life insurance you need and how long you want the coverage to last. Check that the insurers you’re considering offer the coverage you’re looking for.

When comparing rates, be sure the quotes are for the same amount of coverage over the same period of time. It’s also important to make sure the policy’s medical requirements match your needs. For example, if you want to skip the life insurance medical exam but don’t mind answering health questions, confirm that the application process for each policy you're comparing aligns with that.

Price may not be the biggest driver behind your decision to buy. Look at the number of consumer complaints each company receives, as high numbers can be a red flag about the quality of service.

For more guidance, see our life insurance buying guide.

Life insurance ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s life insurance ratings are based on consumer experience, complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance, and weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims. Within the consumer experience category, we consider ease of communication and website transparency, which looks at the depth of policy details available online. To calculate each insurer’s rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale.

These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

Insurer complaints methodology

NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2018-2020. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. NerdWallet conducts its data analysis and reaches conclusions independently and without the endorsement of the NAIC. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

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