With high consumer satisfaction and financial strength ratings, Guardian Life provides reliable life insurance coverage for consumers in all 50 states. Though the term life policies offered are pretty standard, there is a range of whole and universal life plans with a healthy list of features.
- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
Term protection is available up to age 75
Whole life coverage is available to those living with HIV
Dividends have been paid out to whole life customers every year since 1868
Online policy information is a bit vague (it’s difficult to find exact coverage limits)
Policies must be purchased through an agent
No immediate coverage
- Guardian Life offers term, whole, and universal life coverage to consumers in all 50 states, which includes some survivorship and estate protection options.
- The company has provided dividends to whole life policyholders every single year since 1868.
- While the online calculator can give consumers an idea of their term life policy pricing, policies can only be finalized and purchased through agents.
- Guardian Life boasts highest-possible ratings from AM Best and an exceptional complaint index through NAIC.
Founded in New York in 1860, Guardian has been providing trusted insurance products for over 160 years. The company began by offering life insurance policies and has since expanded into disability, dental, vision, and hearing insurance coverage.
Guardian Life is licensed to do business in all 50 states, though not all products and services are available in all states. The company currently boasts over 9,500 employees, of which 2,700 are financial representatives (essentially agents) who can help you build the right policy for your specific needs.
- Year Founded 1860
- Kinds of Plans Term, whole, universal life
- Number of Plans 14
- Payment Plan Options Speak with your agent to learn which options are available to you
- Customer Service 888-GUARDIAN or by calling your agent directly
- Official Website www.guardianlife.com
- Term protection is available up to age 75: Standard term life policies can be purchased with coverage that lasts as long as age 75.
- Whole life coverage is available to those living with HIV: Though many insurers offer whole life coverage without the need for a medical exam or to applicants with certain health conditions (such as a history of cancer or heart disease), there are still certain diagnoses that make buying coverage very difficult (and expensive). One such diagnosis is HIV, and there are still many insurers that exclude this condition in their underwriting process. With Guardian, however, those living with HIV can purchase permanent, whole life coverage that protects those they love.
- Dividends have been paid out to whole life customers every year since 1868: Many life insurance companies offer dividends when the company has a fruitful year; however, these “bonus” payouts to policyholders are neither guaranteed nor predictable. Guardian, on the other hand, offers dividends to its whole life policyholders and the company has paid out dividends every single year since 1868.
- Online policy information is a bit vague (it’s difficult to find exact coverage limits): Though Guardian does offer a robust website, specific policy information can be difficult—if not impossible—to find. For instance, it’s hard to find exact coverage limits for specific policies online, and the site doesn’t make it easy to see which plans and features are available to you based on location. To learn more, get specific coverage questions answered, or personalize your quote, you’ll need to contact a financial representative.
- Policies must be purchased through an agent: While you can get an idea of your term policy options and pricing through Guardian’s online calculator tool, you’ll need to contact an agent in order to actually purchase said coverage. If you’re looking for whole or universal life policies, you’ll need an agent to get a quote and buy coverage.
- No immediate coverage: Some term life insurers today offer online buying options that can start protecting you in just minutes. This isn’t the case with Guardian; regardless of the type of coverage you’re looking for, you’ll need to work with an agent to build your policy.
You can purchase a term life policy from Guardian Life if you’re between the ages of 18 and 75. (Annual renewability may be available after that point.) These policies can be purchased with a term of 10, 15, 20, or 30 years.
This policy automatically allows for whole life conversion during the first five years, meaning that you can convert your coverage from temporary term to permanent whole life. Beyond those first five years, though, you can only convert your term life policy if you chose to add an extended conversion rider.
Though you can get an idea of your term life pricing through Guardian’s online calculator—even seeing how certain riders affect the cost—policies can only be purchased through financial representatives (agents).
Level Premium Whole Life
Guardian Life offers a basic, permanent life insurance product called level premium whole life. While this policy can cost quite a bit more than the same amount of term life coverage, it allows you to purchase coverage that lasts to the end of your life. For as long as you’re required to pay premiums, those payments will remain the same and never increase.
Guardian Life has three level premium coverage options: paid-up at 95, paid-up at 99, and paid-up at 121. This means that equal premiums will be required from day one all the way until you reach the “paid-up” age of your policy. At that time, your coverage will be considered paid in full, and you won’t have to worry about premiums again.
So, if you have a paid-up at 95 policy, you’ll pay level premiums from the day you buy coverage until you reach age 95. At that time, you’ll stop paying premiums but will continue to hold the coverage until you die, whether that’s at age 97 or 120. If you have a paid-up at 99 policy, however, you’ll continue making level premium payments until age 99. At that point, you will no longer be required to pay anything else for the coverage.
EstateGuard (Survivorship) Whole Life
If you and your spouse have a sizable estate to protect, Guardian Life’s EstateGuard policy could help you protect it. This coverage is intended to insure two people under the same policy, combining a survivorship plan with features like the ability to increase your death benefit by as much as 100% in the first four years.
After the first covered individual passes away, the policy’s cash value increases; this serves to help with retirement expenses or even cover remaining policy premiums.
Though Guardian’s universal life plans don’t pay dividends as their whole life plans do, these policies offer another way to accumulate tax-deferred cash value while permanently protecting those you love. In fact, policies through Guardian offer a guaranteed annual interest rate of 2.5% or higher.
If needed, you can adjust your premium payments over time with the universal life plan, as well as borrow against your policy’s cash value or use it to cover premiums in the future.
Variable Universal Life
If you want to take your universal coverage up a notch, the variable universal life plan can do so. It offers the same policy benefits and protections, but with the option to invest your cash value in the stock market. Though doing so does add risk, you are able to choose the investment(s) that best fit your risk tolerance so you can grow this asset as you see fit.
Survivorship Universal Life
Lastly, there is the survivorship universal life plan, which offers permanent life insurance protection and benefits in addition to providing for the surviving spouse. After one spouse passes away, the other is able to access the cash value of this policy without penalty; when they are also gone, the remaining cash value will pass to your designated beneficiaries.
Depending on the type of policy you buy, you may be able to add a handful of riders to your coverage. These riders—which may come at an additional cost or be included in your policy—can provide you with special features or added protection while you hold valid life insurance coverage.
Be sure to check with your financial representative to find out which of these riders and benefits are available to you based on your policy and location.
Waiver of Premium Rider
With this rider, you can waive your requirement to make regular premium payments if you are deemed totally disabled for six consecutive months or more.
Accelerated Terminal Illness Benefit
If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, this accelerated benefit rider will allow you to access a percentage of your policy’s death benefit before your passing. The early payout can be used to cover medical or personal expenses or to enjoy the time you have left with your loved ones.
Extended Conversion Rider
The extended conversion rider allows you to convert your temporary term life insurance policy into permanent, whole life coverage. You will not need to go through the application process again in order to convert your policy.
Charitable Benefit Rider
This benefit automatically adds 1% onto your term policy’s death benefit (up to $100,000) and gives it to the charitable cause of your choosing after you pass. This donation does not cut into your beneficiaries’ benefit in any way.
Long-Term Care Rider
This indemnity-style rider allows you to access up to 90% of your life insurance policy’s death benefit if you need to receive long-term care services due to a chronic illness or condition. To qualify for disbursement, you’ll need to be diagnosed with a covered cognitive condition—such as Alzheimer’s—or be unable to perform at least two of the Six Activities of Daily Living (bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring).
Guardian Index Participation Feature (IPF)
With this rider, policyholders are able to tie a portion of their policy’s cash value to the performance of an index. This can potentially allow for even greater growth of the policy’s value.
While Guardian Life doesn’t guarantee that eligible policyholders will receive annual dividends, the company has paid them out every year since 1868.
If you have questions or are interested in purchasing a life insurance policy through Guardian Life, their customer service department is available by calling 888-GUARDIAN (888-482-7342). Once you have coverage, you can also reach out to your local financial representative with questions or if you need to make changes to your policy.
Each insurer is expected to receive a certain number of complaints each year, based on its size and market share. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) collects this data and uses it to calculate what’s called a complaint index.
The national complaint index—which demonstrates the average number of complaints that a company is expected to receive according to its size–essentially has a baseline set at 1.00. If a specific company scores a complaint index below 1.00, it means that they received fewer complaints in a given year than expected; a complaint index above 1.00 would indicate more complaints than expected.
In 2020, Guardian Life received a complaint index of only 0.06 in terms of individual life insurance services (that’s less than a tenth of the complaints they might have received on average). In 2019, they performed just as well with an index of only 0.11, and in 2018 they scored a 0.08. This shows that Guardian Life consistently performs well in terms of consumer complaints, far exceeding expectations.
When it comes to gauging an insurer’s performance and stability, few things are as telling as third-party ratings. These ratings, provided by trusted and authoritative companies in the industry, can give you a good idea of whether an insurance company will be there when you need them most.
In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, Guardian Life scored 743 out of 1,000 points. This earned them a 14th-place ranking among 25 rated companies. This study was based on a number of factors including overall customer satisfaction ratings, price, availability, products, and communication.
In terms of financial stability and strength ratings, AM Best is arguably the best barometer. When it comes to Guardian Life, AM Best has awarded an A++ (Superior) score, which is the highest possible rating. This shows strong confidence in Guardian Life’s ability to back the policies they have issued and pay claims as needed.
Guardian Life doesn't have clear disclosure on its website about policy cancellations, so if you decide that your Guardian Life insurance policy isn’t the right product for your needs or simply want to cancel before your coverage ends, you’ll need to reach out to your agent. It’s important to read the fine print of your specific policy before doing so, however, as there may be penalties imposed that would decrease your policy’s cash surrender value.
The price you will pay for life insurance coverage will vary greatly depending on any number of personal factors. The type of policy and coverage amount you choose will obviously impact cost, as will things like your age, location, medical history, whether or not you use tobacco products, and gender. (Note that for non-binary applicants, most insurers will go by your birth gender).
While you’ll need to go through a Guardian agent in order to finalize your policy features and price, the company does offer an online calculator for term life coverage. There, you’re able to see how your monthly cost changes based on the terms of your policy and the coverage limits chosen.
The best way to find the right life insurance coverage for you is to compare a few different companies and quotes. That way, you can be sure that you are not only buying a policy that best suits your needs but that you’re also paying the right price.
We put Guardian Life up against New York Life to see how the two insurers compare. These companies are two of the largest insurers in the country, both offering highly rated service to consumers in all 50 states, with a healthy variety of insurance plans to choose from.
|Guardian Life||New York Life|
|Market Share||Tenth-largest in U.S., 2.7%||Second-largest in U.S., 6.0%|
|Number of Plans||8||9|
|Dividends for 2020||$1.05 billion||$1.8 billion|
|AM Best Rating||A++ Superior||A++ Superior|
|Price Rank||Average||Above Average|
|Complaints Trend||0.06 Exceptional||0.14 Excellent|
Each of these two companies received the highest possible rating from AM Best and have an excellent complaint index per the NAIC. Both offer service through agents, rather than being able to buy online, and each company provides dividends to certain policyholders each year. Additionally, both companies have a long history of paying dividends. Where Guardian gets a little bit of an edge is they have a lower complaint index. This means you are less likely to be displeased with the service or the process.
Guardian Life is a reputable life insurance company that delivers on its promise of protection. It has ample products with riders available to handle just about any life insurance need. Prices are about average, but the company remains financially solvent and has paid policyholder dividends regularly since 1868. For consumers looking for flexible life insurance options up to the high age of 85, Guardian Life is a good pick.
Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative approach that analyzes each insurer on their stability and reliability, customer service, claims experience, diversity of product lines, and cost. We compare the terms of each type of policy offered—including available coverage amounts, optional riders, and premium payment options—with that of other major life insurance companies. Lastly, we look at how the company is rated by third-party organizations to determine its reliability and overall reputation.
NAIC. "Guardian Life." Accessed August 12, 2021.
J.D. Power. "Life Insurance Customer Satisfaction Flatlines Despite Pandemic Fears, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed August 12, 2021.
AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and Its Subsidiaries." Accessed August 12, 2021.