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Disability Insurance Carrier Review: Guardian

Guardian (Berkshire Life) is one of the top disability insurance policies on the market. They focus on several types of people, including white-collar and medical professionals. The following products are reviewed to inform the public about the various options within the income protection universe. Most disability policies are very good, but what is right for you may not be right for someone else. As experts, wholly objective, and as an independent disability insurance agency, we can help you navigate the sea of carriers and their individual product features. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Who Is The Guardian?

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America is a mutual company that has been operating for 158 years (as of 2018). They’ve won awards for outstanding customer service and have even received a service excellence reward from DALBAR for disability claims.

As one they of the largest and most distinguished players in the disability insurance market, it is no wonder that they frequently receive purchases from professionals, business owners, and executives who are looking to obtain income protection.

The Guardian is the parent company of Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America. Berkshire also operates as a stand-alone insurance company domiciled in Massachusetts. Berkshire is a third-party administrator for The Guardian, and many of The Guardian’s disability products are serviced through Berkshire.

Of course, Guardian offers life insurance and a host of group plans, but since this site concentrates on personal income protection, we’ll focus in on their individual disability insurance offerings.

The Guardian/Berkshire’s Financials

Since Berkshire functions as its own company, it is responsible for its own claims and liabilities. This is an important detail however it should be noted that Berkshire alone paid over $313 million in disability benefits in 2017.

Both Berkshire and Guardian have achieved an A++ rating from A.M. Best, which is their highest possible rating. Both companies also have a 99 (out of 100) Comdex ranking, meaning they are one of the strongest companies currently in the industry that is offering individual disability insurance.

Products Offered

Guardian has two main products in the individual disability insurance markets: Provider Choice and Provider Plus. Provider Choice is available in every state except California, whereas Provider Plus is only available in California.

In addition to personal protection, Guardian has a business overhead expense policies as well as disability buyout options.

For White-Collar Workers

As one of the top players in the medical and executive fields, Guardian is a go-to product option for white-collar professionals.

Their plans are highly customizable, as they offer choices between true own occupation and modified, the option to add a social insurance supplement and the ability to pay premiums that are either level or graded (increasing over time).

For those just starting out, Guardian allows you to add a student loan rider provide loan protection if you were to become disabled while still in debt.

Some of the other features that make Guardian so attractive to white-collar professionals include features for when life takes a rough turn and those for when things are looking up.

For insurance, they offer a rider that lets you stop paying premiums if you suddenly find yourself unemployed for at least 60 days. On the other hand, they have two riders which allow you to increase your benefits (in case of the future increase option rider, substantially) should you start making much more money than previously.

Of course, they also offer a residual disability benefit that allows claims even if you’re still working but have your income and duties/hours reduced due to disability.

All of these features are typically important to white-collar professions, and Guardian really does cover all of the bases.

For example, a young medical professional could purchase a graded policy (which has lower premiums in the first few years of the policy) with a student loan rider to protect their income while they’re first getting started.

An established executive could purchase a true own-occupation disability policy with an option to purchase more coverage in the future without medical underwriting.

As you can see, no matter where you are in life, if you’re a white-collar professional, then Guardian has you covered when it comes to disability insurance.

For Blue-Collar Workers

I don’t think that I’m out of line when I say that Guardian isn’t a great carrier for the traditional blue-collar professions. Although they do have some features that can be desirable to lower the costs of their policies (social supplement, graded plans, modified own occupation), many of their occupation classes for blue-collar workers aren’t as high as some of their competitors.

If you’re a blue-collar worker who really wants to see what a Guardian policy looks like, we’d be happy to run one for you. Please don’t be surprised if the quote doesn’t look as strong as the ones you may receive from lesser-known carriers like Assurity or Illinois Mutual who specialize in this market.

For Business Owners

Back into their wheelhouse, Guardian is a great option for individuals who are looking for self-employed disability insurance.

They offer programs for both well-established business owners and to those who are just getting started. They have policies built for the simple sole proprietor to complex partnerships with a significant amount of overheads.

Provider Choice, their flagship individual disability policy, offers a business owner an advantage program for businesses that have had over one full year in operation. Since business owners often have substantial deductions, their insurable income isn’t always as high as what may be desired. This program allows the business owner to increase their insurable income by 20%.

For those who have just started a company, Guardian will allow you apply based on prior w-2 income, assuming that the business that you’re starting is in the same occupation/field. It will enable you to qualify for a monthly benefit of 50% of your prior income as an employee, up to $5,000 per month.

Business owners with high overhead will be thrilled to know that Guardian offers a competitive business overhead expense plan.

If you’re in a partnership and need to make sure that another owner’s disability doesn’t derail your succession plan, then you may consider The Guardian’s disability buy-sell plan.

New or established, simple or complex, The Guardian has a solid policy for just about any business owner’s needs.

Guardian Pros

The Guardian has great brand name recognition and holds exceptional financial ratings.

They offer top-notch policies for anyone in a white-collar profession and business owners.

Their policies offer every type of protection that a disability buyer could dream of, from true-own occupation coverage to enhanced partial disability benefits.

Finally, their pricing is in line with other major competitors, especially when it comes to the top occupation classes such as engineers and certified public accountants.

Guardian Cons

There is not a lot to mention here that hasn’t already been said.

Blue-collar workers are likely to find a better policy elsewhere that suits their needs.

If you’re basing your disability insurance policy search strictly on the price of the policy (which is not recommended), then Guardian probably isn’t your best option either.

Finally, like Ohio National, Guardian’s underwriting is strict but fair. If you have several health conditions, we may be able to find you a better policy from another company.

In Summary

The Guardian/Berkshire Life is one of the top disability insurance companies in the industry.

If you’d like to see if one of the Guardian disability insurance policies is right for your, please complete the form on the left and indicate “Guardian Quote” in the comments section.

As an independent agency, we pride ourselves on finding you the best disability insurance policy for your goals. If you’re a white-collar worker or a business owner, don’t be surprised if Guardian is one of the policies that you’re quoted.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about Guardian or any other carrier.

We’re happy to help.

About Raymer Malone, CFP®
About Raymer Malone, CFP®

Raymer Malone, CFP® is principal and owner of www.highincomeprotection.com, an online insurance agency that specializes in disability insurance.  Ray has been in financial services since 1998 and has been life and health licensed since 2004. He started his company to help consumers get access to disability insurance products online and to provide them with the proper direction in selecting a policy. Ray resides in Lake Tahoe, NV with his wife and two children.

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