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Guardian Life Insurance Review 2021

Bottom line: With much lower than expected complaints and options including coverage for HIV-positive buyers, Guardian is one of NerdWallet's highest-rated life insurance providers.
Insurance, Life Insurance
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Guardian Life Insurance

  • Rated 5 stars out of 5 by NerdWallet.
  • Ranks below average for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power study.
  • Offers a full menu of term and permanent life insurance.

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 will pay a record $1.05 billion to policyholders.

» MORE: Compare life insurance quotes

Guardian Life insurance

5.0 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 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 for 2021.

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 insures 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.

» MORE: Find the best life insurance for your family

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.

» MORE: How to get life insurance with pre-existing conditions

Guardian Life insurance customer complaints and satisfaction

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

Guardian Life ranked 14th out of 23 companies in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study on customer satisfaction.

More about Guardian Life

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.

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.

Methodology: Life insurance ratings

NerdWallet’s life insurance ratings are based on weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims, and complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance. 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.

Methodology: Insurer complaints

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. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.