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6.0 / 10

Guardian Life Insurance Review

Guardian Life enjoys respect from financial institutions and customers alike despite a cumbersome shopping experience. But premium costs are very high, so frugal customers should consider less expensive alternatives.

Tim Torres

Tim Torres

Published May 29, 2020

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Guardian Life

OVERALL

6.0

THE GOOD

    High financial and customer ratings

    Possibility for dividends

    Online quote tool available

    Convertible options for term life

THE BAD

    Expensive premiums

    Must apply through agents only

    Lack of information on website

THE BOTTOM LINE

Guardian Life, which has been around for nearly two centuries, enjoys respect from financial institutions and customers alike despite a slightly cumbersome shopping experience. They provide little information about their policies, and potential policyholders need to call an agent to apply. Premium costs are also very high for most people.

Guardian Life is number 13 on Policygenius' list of the best life insurance companies, based on cost, financial confidence, third-party customer ratings, life insurance policy options, and ease of application.

Cost

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1.0

Confidence

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9.5

Customer Ratings

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8.5

Policy Options

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3.6

Customer Experience

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7.5

GUARDIAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

4 of 5

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J.D. Power Rating

A trusted customer satisfaction and product quality research agency

A+

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BBB Rating

A nonprofit organization focusing on marketplace trust and product quality

A++

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A.M. Best

100-year-old U.S. credit rating agency focused on the insurance industry

IN THIS ARTICLE

The Details


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The Good

High financial and customer ratings. Guardian Life has been around for over 160 years, so it’s got a sterling reputation from both credit rating agencies and customer satisfaction sites. Shoppers can expect solid financial stability—important for paying out death benefits—and top-notch customer service.

Possibility for dividends. Being the customer of a mutually owned company has its perks, namely the possibility for cash dividends at the end of the year. However, actually receiving dividends is not a guarantee since it depends upon company performance. All the same, dividends are a potential plus for prospective Guardian Life customers.

Online quote tool available. There’s not much to do on Guardian Life’s life insurance page, but you can receive a sample quote quite easily.

Convertible options for term life. Term life customers satisfied with their policy can convert to a more permanent plan if they need to continue supporting dependents after the term expires. Converting is a handy option since it usually means no further underwriting is required.

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The Bad

Expensive premiums. You’ll notice Guardian Life charges higher premiums for its insurance products than the industry average. If saving money on life insurance is your primary concern, you can find much cheaper alternatives with other carriers.

Must apply through agents only. Guardian Life doesn’t allow shoppers to apply online. Instead, you’ve got to contact a local agent or call customer service who will then refer you to a local agent. Either way, you’re using the phone.

Lack of information on website. Guardian Life is not very forthcoming when it comes to the details of its insurance products. There’s some basic information available on the website, but more details have to come from a local agent.

The Breakdown

Cost

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1.0

Life insurance costs vary. They depend on personal factors like age, gender, where you live, and your health. Whether you’re male or female, older or younger, a smoker or non-smoker, these are the determining aspects that decide how much you’ll pay for premiums.

Using Guardian Life’s online quote tool to apply for $500,000 of term life insurance on a 20-year plan for a non-smoking male, we gathered the following sample rates:

AGEGUARDIAN AVERAGEINDUSTRY AVERAGE
20s$33.00$28.02
30s$36.00$32.06
40s$80.00$60.97
50s$190.00$152.00
60s$675.00$504.29

Sample monthly premium quotes based on sample rates from 10 top life insurance companies. Current as of May 2020.

Guardian Life’s premiums are higher than the industry average, at least for $500,000, 20-year policies. For comparison, AIG offers an average rate of $25.534 for a healthy male in their 20s for a $500,000, 20-year policy. For most customers, insurance from Guardian Life Insurance Company will be an expensive proposition.

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Compare Guardian to other top-rated companies

Guardian's high monthly rates may not be the right fit for you. Compare top insurers in one place and find your best rate with Policygenius.

Confidence

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9.5

Shoppers should know the financial facts of an insurance company. That’s why we look at credit analysis firms and ratings agencies so that policyholders can tell if companies are financially stable and carry enough cash reserves to pay out death benefits.

According to financial ratings services and industry experts, Guardian Life is doing just fine, with high ratings across the board. That’s to be expected, as Guardian Life has been providing various insurance products to customers for over 160 years, with $9.3 billion in capital and $79.3 billion in assets as of the end of 2019.

  • Year founded: 1860
  • A.M. Best: A++
  • Moody’s: Aa2
  • Standard & Poor’s: AA+

Credit rating firm A.M. Best, which focuses specifically on the insurance industry, rates Guardian Life an A++, the highest rating possible. That means Guardian Life has a superior ability to meet the financial obligations of policyholders.

Financial analysis firm Moody’s gives Guardian Life an Aa2, the third-highest rating, meaning Guardian Life is of high quality and subject to very low credit risk.

Standard & Poor’s, another financial research company, grades Guardian Life an AA+, the second-highest rating the firm can give. Overall, shoppers can expect the financially sound Guardian Life to have the cash reserves to pay its debts.

Customer Ratings

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8.5

Financial firms are confident in Guardian Life. Customers seem mostly satisfied with the carrier’s services, too, according to the review sites and consumer assessment firms we use to gauge overall shopper satisfaction.

Here’s what customers and customer rating agencies think of Guardian Life:

  • BBB: A+
  • Consumers Advocate: 4.5 / 5
  • Consumer Affairs: N/A
  • J.D. Power: 4 / 5
  • NAIC complaint index: 0.10

The Better Business Bureau grades companies based on advertising claims and customer complaints. They award Guardian Life an A+. There is a 1-star customer rating based on 26 reviews, but they’re mainly about the company’s other products.

Consumers Advocate, which focuses on a company’s reputation, policies, and stability, gives Guardian Life an “excellent” 4.5 out of 5.

Consumer Affairs lets customers directly review and rate companies. As of May 2020, they do not have a page dedicated to Guardian Life.

J.D. Power ranks insurance companies based on policy offerings, pricing, and the clarity of billing and policy information. They rate Guardian Life at 770, based on a 1000-scale. That translates to a “better than most” 4 out of 5 Power Circles, based on their 2019 life insurance study.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks complaints submitted to state insurance departments. Based on their complaint index, Guardian Life has a 0.10 rating. A score of 1 represents the baseline average, and a zero means there weren’t enough customer complaints to count. Guardian Life barely has any complaints to count.

Policy Options

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3.6

Guardian Life offers term, whole, and universal life insurance products. Unfortunately, all policies require speaking to an agent directly to apply. Plus, there’s a serious lack of information available on the Guardian Life website. You’ll have to call an agent for that information as well.

Term Life Insurance

For applicants aged 18 to 45, term lengths are 10, 15, 20, or 30 years long. For ages 55 and above, term lengths are 10, 15, 20 years. Coverage lasts for that fixed period time. Coverage amounts range from $250,000 to $5 million.

That’s all the information available on Guardian Life’s website. To find out more you need to contact an agent, and to apply, you need to contact a Guardian Life representative.

Policy conversion
Policyholders can convert to a permanent plan if they add the appropriate rider to their coverage.

Available riders

  • Waiver of premium for disability. For an extra cost, this rider waives your monthly costs if you become totally disabled through illness or injury for six continuous months.
  • Extra conversion rider. Also for an additional fee, this will convert your term policy to permanent coverage, without going through the application process again.

Whole life insurance

Guardian Life’s whole life plan provides fully underwritten lifetime coverage and builds cash value, which you can use to pay towards your premiums. However, doing so can affect the amount of your death benefit and any potential dividends you may receive.

Since Guardian Life is a mutually owned company, whole life policyholders are eligible to receive dividends, although like all mutually owned companies that’s not a guarantee.

To apply and find out more information, you need to contact an agent.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance provides permanent coverage but with flexible monthly premiums, meaning you can adjust how much you pay depending on your finances.

This policy may also build cash value which you can use as a savings vehicle or borrow from at any time to use for retirement costs or other expenses.

To apply and find out more information, you have to contact a Guardian Life agent.

Customer Experience

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7.5

There is barely any policy information on Guardian Life’s website, which is surprising given the high score from J.D. Power and other customer ratings services.

There is no live online chat available on the website, but you can call or email customer service through an online submission form.

When we called customer service we were greeted immediately with swift help, no wait times or confusing automated menus got in the way. However, they wouldn’t share specific policy details and we were instead referred to a local agent.

State availability

Guardian Life is available nationwide.

Application length

You’ll have to speak with a Guardian Life agent to learn more about and apply for policies. Calls with insurance agents usually take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.

Turnaround time

Customers will likely wait up to two weeks for most policies.

Policy delivery

Policies are delivered electronically or in the mail.

Change method

Major changes, such as policy cancellation, name change, and beneficiary change, must be done by printing and sending back forms. Simpler adjustments, like change of address, can be made online.

Payment methods

Guardian Life has a customer access portal where policyholders can set up automatic payments. You can pay annually, semiannually, quarterly, or monthly.

  • Autopay. Set up online automatic payments with a bank account
  • Phone. Use a checking account to pay over the phone
  • Mail. Pay your bill with a check

Digital tools

Besides the online quote tool and an access portal where policyholders can pay their bills, there’s not much here to use.

Claims documentation

To claim a death benefit, Guardian Life requires filling out and sending back a claim form.

Policygenius offers insurance policies from many of the nation's top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.

About the author

Reviews Expert

Tim Torres

Reviews Expert

Tim Torres is the reviews editor at Policygenius. His work has appeared in Computer Shopper, Tom's Guide, and numerous other outlets over the last ten years.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.