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Guardian Life Insurance Review

Very few customer complaints and A++ financial strength

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Guardian Life Insurance

 Guardian

Investopedia’s Rating
4.4
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Our Take

If customer experience and financial stability are top priorities, you’ll appreciate that Guardian receives very few complaints relative to other insurers and has an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best (the highest possible grade). Plus, the company offers dividend-eligible policies and no-medical-exam life insurance for up to $3 million in coverage. However, you can’t apply for life insurance without the help of an agent, and policy specifics are hard to find online.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Company Overview
  • specifications
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No-medical-exam life insurance up to $3 million

  • Excellent financial stability

  • Very few customer complaints

  • Policies available up to age 90

  • Whole life policies are eligible for dividends

Cons
  • Policy information online is vague

  • No online application

Company Overview

Guardian Life Insurance has been providing insurance policies since 1860. It’s a mutual company, which means it’s customer-owned. As such, it shares profits with policyholders via dividends. In 2022, Guardian Life Insurance paid out $1.13B in dividends to customers and they have paid out dividends to policyholders annually since 1868.

While some insurance providers are only licensed to do business in certain states, Guardian Life Insurance is licensed in all 50 states. That being said, some products and services are only available in select states. When it comes to life insurance, this provider offers whole life, term, universal, and variable policies.

  • Year Founded 1860
  • Kinds of Policies Whole life, term, universal life (UL), variable UL
  • Payment Options Bank draft, check
  • Customer Service Phone: 1-888-482-7342; Email: il_solutions@glic.com
  • Official Website www.guardianlife.com
specifications
AM Best Rating
A++
NAIC Score (avg.)
N/A
Years In Business
162 Years
Policy Types
Term, Universal (UL), Whole
Accepts Credit Cards
No
Why Trust Us We collected over 5,000 data points from 91 life insurance companies to measure financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, and the overall buying experience. We then evaluated each company based on 55 metrics to develop unbiased, comprehensive reviews. Read our Full Methodology
91 Companies reviewed
55 Features considered
5,005 Data points analyzed

Pros Explained

  • No-medical-exam life insurance up to $3 million: Not all insurance companies offer policies without requiring a medical exam, but Guardian Life Insurance does. And it offers relatively high coverage amounts as well. Many companies cap no-med-exam life insurance at $1 million or less, but Guardian offers up to $3 million in coverage to healthy applicants up to age 50.
  • Excellent financial stability: Guardian Life Insurance received an A++ AM Best rating for financial strength. This rating looks at an insurer's relative creditworthiness to determine how well it can meet its ongoing insurance obligation, which means, in part, how well it can pay insurance claims. Only nine of the 91 insurers we reviewed received an A++ from AM Best.
  • Very few customer complaints: Out of the 91 insurers we reviewed, Guardian received the sixth lowest National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index score, averaged over three years. This means the company received very few complaints for a company of its size and outclassed all but five of its competitors, which is why it’s our pick for best overall life insurance company for fewest complaints.
  • Policies available up to age 90: You can be eligible for a life insurance policy up to 90 years old. Guardian Life Insurance is one of only five insurers of the 91 reviewed that offer policies up to age 90.
  • Whole life policies are eligible for dividends: In 2022, Guardian Life Insurance issued $1.13B in dividends to eligible whole life policy holders. These dividends offer a return of a portion of the premiums customers pay on their whole life policy.

Cons Explained

  • Policy information online is vague: It’s hard to glean much from the company's website regarding policy offerings, pricing, and coverage limits.
  • No online application: Guardian Life Insurance does not offer an online application which some consumers may find inconvenient.

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides insight into the customer experience of many different insurance companies by tracking the complaints they receive . From this data, the NAIC derives a complaint index with a baseline score of 1.0. 

If a company has a complaint index over 1.0, the insurance company received more complaints than expected for a company of its size. If the company’s ratio is below 1.0, then the company received fewer complaints than expected. Guardian Life Insurance received a score of 0.110 which means they received significantly fewer complaints than expected. 

In fact, of the 91 companies we reviewed, Guardian received the 6th fewest number of complaints relative to its size, averaged over three years. The following other providers also did well: Nationwide (0.263), New York Life (0.279), MassMutual (0.133), and State Farm (0.295). 

Third-Party Ratings

Guardian received an AM Best rating of A++. AM Best ratings measure how strong and stable an insurance company is and how likely they are to meet their contractual insurance obligations. A++ is the highest rating that AM Best gives. 

When it comes to the 2021 J.D. Power Individual Life Insurance Study, Guardian Life Insurance scored a 775 (which is slightly below the industry average of 776) out of a 1,000-point scale. This study measured how well customers think the largest life insurance companies did in the areas of communication, interaction, price, product offerings, and billing statements.

Competition

  Guardian Life Insurance Nationwide  Pacific Life Insurance 
Types of Coverage Whole life, term life, universal life, variable life Indexed universal life, variable universal life, universal life, whole life, term life  Indexed universal life,  variable universal life,  universal life, whole life, term life
Dividends for 2022  $1.13B  N/A  N/A 
Online Application  Not Available  Available Not Available 
AM Best Rating  A++  A+  A+ 
Price for Term Policies  Average  Average  Excellent 
NAIC-Derived Complaint Index  0.110  0.263  0.056 
J.D. Power Ranking (if available for all three companies)  11 

The NAIC complaint index indicates how many complaints a company receives relative to its size. A score lower than 1.0 indicates fewer customer complaints than expected; a score greater than 1.0 indicates more complaints than expected. The closer the index is to 0, the better.

Policies Available 

Term Life Insurance

When you purchase a term life insurance policy, you agree to pay a premium for a set period of time. Usually, this term is between 10 and 30 years. In return for making those premium payments, your beneficiaries will be paid the death benefit if you die during the term. Term life insurance death benefits are almost always paid out in a lump sum of cash that is income tax-free. Because term life insurance policies only last for a set period of time, they are less expensive than permanent life insurance policies which come with life-long protection. 

When you apply for a quote with Guardian, you’ll get a quote for medically underwritten Guardian Level Term policy with rates that will remain the same for the length of the policy. When it comes time to apply for a policy, you’ll be asked questions about your health and will need to take a paramedical exam

Some health issues can disqualify applicants from coverage or increase the rate they need to pay. 

With the Guardian Level Term policy you’ll have the option of choosing 10, 15, 20, or 30 years of coverage. You can also choose to convert this policy to any Guardian whole life policy. You can convert during the first five years at no cost, or purchase an extended conversion rider if you want the option to convert until the end of the level term period. 

Whole Life Insurance

A Guardian whole life insurance policy provides coverage for the policyholder’s entire life, not just a set period of time. The money the policyholder contributes to their whole life insurance premium contributes to the cash value of their policy. Guardian’s Paid-Up at 99 whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance—as is universal life insurance. When you have a whole life insurance policy, you pay a fixed premium throughout the entire length of your policy. 

Universal Life Insurance

Like whole life, a universal life (UL) insurance policy is designed to last your entire lifetime. However, the cash value is credited based on current interest rates and the death benefit and premium payments are flexible. For example, you may be able to skip a premium payment or pay late without causing the policy to lapse. 

Variable Universal Life Insurance

Variable universal life (VUL) policies combine permanent life insurance coverage with an investment element. The cash value in these policies is invested in your choice of subaccounts—which are essentially mutual funds within your VUL policy. But unlike other types of permanent coverage, you can lose cash value if the investments perform poorly or gains aren’t sufficient to keep up with policy expenses. VUL policies may not be advisable if you need guaranteed death benefit protection.

Available Riders

Guaranteed Insurability Rider 

You have the option to add Guardian’s guaranteed insurability rider—Guaranteed Insurability Option (GIO) rider—to your whole life policy in order to later increase the amount of life insurance coverage you have. You can do this for up to eight “option” dates without having to provide evidence of insurability. Option dates are based on your age or a special event, such as marriage, buying a home, having a child. On each date, you can purchase additional coverage of up to $350,000 per election for a total of $2,800,000 in extra coverage.

Waiver of Premium 

A waiver of premium rider makes it so you don’t have to pay your premium if you become totally disabled for at least six months. This rider allows you to keep your policy in force during this time of economic hardship. 

Accidental Death Benefit 

An accidental death benefit can be added as an extra benefit to the standard death benefit. This rider provides an additional death benefit if your death is accidental.

Accelerated Death Benefit Riders

Guardian offers a few accelerated death benefit (ADB) riders that let you access the death benefit early (before death) if you experience certain health events. These riders reduce the death benefit your beneficiaries receive.

  • Terminal illness rider: Guardian’s no-cost terminal illness rider gives policy holders who are diagnosed with a terminal illness the ability to receive a portion of their death benefit while they are still alive. 
  • Long-term care rider: It’s possible to add a Guardian Long term Care rider when you purchase certain types of life insurance. This long-term care rider gives you the chance to access money from your policy if you are receiving long term care services due to a chronic illness.
  • Chronic illness rider: A chronic illness rider provides you with a portion of the death benefit if you are diagnosed as having a chronic illness and are unable to perform at least two activities of daily living. Unlike a terminal illness rider, the diagnosed illness or impairment doesn’t have to be terminal. 

Paid-Up Additions 

You can choose to buy a paid-up additions (PUAs) rider if you have a Guardian whole life policy. PUAs are like tiny packets of insurance, with a cash value and death benefit, that you can purchase to build your policy over time . It can be especially fruitful to spend dividends on PUAs for your whole life policy. 

The compounding accumulation of PUAs can work to offset inflation by providing you with a higher death benefit and cash value over time. Guardian Life Insurance offers policyholders the options to use dividends to receive cash, to reduce their premium, to purchase additional term insurance, to apply to outstanding policy loans, or to not use the dividends and allow them to accumulate interest. 

Customer Service

It’s possible to connect with Guardian Life Insurance over the phone or via email. 

  • Customer support: Call 1-888-Guardian
  • Guardian Anytime (for employee benefits through an employer or broker): Call 1-877-500-2386 or email cru@glic.com.
  • Accounts and Policies (through financial advisor or agent): Call 1-888-482-7342 or email il_solutions@glic.com. 
  • Coverage bought directly online: Call 1-866-569-9900

Price

When compared to other companies’ term life insurance quotes, Guardian’s term policies costs were average. That said, the price of any term policy (or other type of coverage) can vary greatly depending on your age, health, and habits. We gathered premium information for 30-year $250,000 term policies for males and females in excellent health aged 25, 40, and 55 living in either the 90666 or 94027 zip code. 

While Guardian Life Insurance doesn’t specify how the handle the application process for transgendered people, on their website they do advise shopping around to find an insurance company that will recognize your gender appropriately.

Is Guardian Life Insurance Right for Me?

There’s a good chance it is. If you agree that top-tier financial stability and exceptionally few customer complaints make an excellent life insurance company, check out Guardian. And if you’re in the market for a dividend-paying whole life policy, they should be at the top of your list, along with MassMutual, New York Life, and Northwestern Mutual (which all also receive A++ AM Best ratings). The company also offers high no-medical-exam life insurance coverage to healthy applicants—up to $3 million, which is the second-highest no-medical-exam life insurance limit we’ve seen.

But in spite of all the great perks, if you want an indexed universal life policy or prefer an online application process, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers

We designed a comprehensive ranking methodology based on consumer priorities and life insurance company fundamentals to rank more than 90 insurers across five general categories: financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, the overall buying experience, and cost.

In order to do this, we collected over 5,000 data points and scored each company based on 55 metrics. We grouped metrics by category to see how insurers performed in each; we then weighted category scores to determine how companies performed overall.

To learn more, read our full Life Insurance Methodology.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Guardian. “About our company.”

  2. Guardian. “Guardian Life Announces $1.13 Billion Dividend Payment to Policyholders.”

  3. J.D. Power. “2021 US Individual Life Insurance Study | JD Power.”