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Guardian Life Insurance Review 2018

Insurance, Life Insurance

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Guardian Life Insurance

  • NerdWallet ranking: No. 3 life insurance company (out of 18)
  • Customer satisfaction scores are about average
  • Offers a full menu of term and permanent life insurance

Overview

Guardian Life Insurance Co. is a mutual insurance company, meaning it’s owned by its policyholders. Customers who buy certain products, such as whole life insurance, can share in annual dividends. The company has paid a dividend every year since 1868, and in 2018 will pay a record dividend of $911 million to its policyholders.

NerdWallet rank: 3rd

Guardian ranked No. 3 out of 18 large companies scored by NerdWallet. NerdWallet’s life insurance company rankings combine its A.M. Best rating, consumer complaints and J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction score.

» MORE: The best life insurance companies

A.M. Best financial strength rating: A++ (superior)

Guardian’s financial strength is “superior,” according to ratings agency A.M. Best.

Financial strength is important because it indicates how well an insurer can pay claims. It’s especially important when choosing a life insurance company because claims might not be made until many decades after a policy is purchased.

Consumer complaints: Better than the median

Guardian drew far significantly than the median number of complaints to state regulators in 2016 for a company of its size, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The association assigns a complaint ratio score to insurance companies, based on the number of complaints to state insurance commissioners, adjusted for market share. The median score is 1. A score less than 1 means fewer complaints. Guardian’s score for individual life insurance in 2016 was 0.05.

J.D. Power ratings: Generally AVERAGE

Guardian scored “about average” in four categories and “better than most” in one category of a 2017 J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey. The insurer ranked No. 6 overall out of 24 companies included in the survey.

Guardian customer satisfaction scores
Overall satisfaction About average
Billing and payment About average
Price About average
Policy offerings Better than most
Interaction About average
Source: J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Life Insurance Study

Guardian Life Insurance coverage options

Types of life insurance soldOther products and services
  • Term life
  • Whole life
  • Universal life
  • Variable universal life
  • Survivorship life
     
     
  • Disability income insurance
  • Annuities
  • Wealth management and investments
  • Individual dental insurance
  • Workplace benefits, including 401(k) plans
  • The company added new features in the recent years to its term and whole life insurance products. They include:

    • An “Index Participation Feature,” which lets whole life policyholders link a portion of their cash value growth to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.
    • A “Lifetime Protection Builder,” designed for people who want to convert term life to whole life insurance in intervals. Policies with this feature provide 15 years of temporary insurance coverage, which is reduced on the fifth, 10th and 15th anniversaries. Policyholders have opportunities at each of those intervals to purchase whole life coverage.
    • Greater flexibility for policyholders who want to borrow against the cash value in their whole life insurance policies. They can choose between fixed or variable loan interest rates when they take out loans on the policies’ 10th anniversaries.

    In 2017 the company introduced 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 policyholders can add more coverage in the early years of the policy.