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Guardian Life Insurance Review 2024

Guardian Life Insurance has been helping people protect their loved ones since 1860. Its affordable rates and broad selection of riders earned it spots on our lists of both top term life providers and most affordable life insurance.

We also love that Guardian offers whole life policies up to age 90, making it a great choice for seniors.

You’ll have to work with an agent to buy a policy, though, which could be a turn-off if you prefer a digital-first experience. And since Guardian doesn’t offer auto or home insurance, there are no bundling discounts.

Guardian Life Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • App available

  • Policy highlights

    Guardian offers a variety of policies, including term, whole and universal. Term life insurance can be converted into whole or universal life policies. 

  • Has paid dividends since 1868
  • Whole life insurance policies up to age 90
  • Available in all 50 states 

  • Can’t get rate quotes or apply online
  • Customer service not available 24/7
  • Doesn’t offer auto or home insurance

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Guardian life insurance review

The key benefits and drawbacks to Guardian Life Insurance.

Pros

  • Policies available up to age 90: Most life insurance providers cap new policies at 75 or 80.
  • No-medical-exam policies: Guardian offers policies for up to $3 million to healthy applicants age 50 and younger without an exam.
  • Whole life policies eligible for dividends: Guardian has paid dividends annually since 1868 and is paying out nearly $1.4 billion to policyholders in 2024.

Cons

  • Can’t apply online: While you can get a term life quote on the website, you’ll need to speak to a Guardian agent to purchase a policy.
  • Limited customer service: Agents are only available weekdays during normal business hours, which can make it difficult to get answers or file claims.
  • No auto or home insurance: While some providers lower rates if you buy two or more types of insurance, Guardian does not offer bundling discounts for life insurance.

Compare rates for life insurance

Guardian offers term and permanent life insurance policies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Availability of individual products may vary, however. 

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is only valid for a set period before coverage expires, typically between 10 and 30 years. Guardian Life offers term life policies to adults ages 18 to 75 in terms of 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. The death benefit can range from $100,000 to $5 million.

If you’re 50 or under and healthy, you can get a policy with a death benefit of up to $3 million without a medical exam. Many competitors cap no-exam coverage at $1 million or less.

Guardian’s term insurance policies do have age restrictions. Policies require a minimum age of 18 and are available up to age 55 for 30-year term policies and 75 for 10-year policies.

A standout feature of Guardian policies is convertibility privilege: Policyholders can convert a term life policy into a permanent policy in the first five years without a medical exam and for no extra charge.

Whole life insurance

Unlike term life, whole life insurance policies remain in place as long as you pay your premiums. They also build cash value that can be accessed during your lifetime, either as a withdrawal or as payment for monthly premiums. You can also borrow against the cash value of your policy.

Policies start at $25,000 of coverage and, while most insurers will only issue new whole life insurance to people under 75 or 80, Guardian’s age limit is 90 for certain whole life policies.

Guardian is one of a few insurers that offer joint life insurance, which covers two individuals and can protect assets from taxes or cover a spouse who otherwise can’t qualify for a policy. The cash value of Guardian’s EstateGuard plan increases after the first person dies and policyholders can add coverage in the policy’s early years. 

Customers with whole life policies are eligible for annual dividends. While there is no guarantee, Guardian has paid dividends every year since 1868 and is paying out nearly $1.4 billion to policyholders in 2024.

Universal life insurance

Like whole life, universal life insurance stays in place for your entire life and can build cash value. Premiums and payouts are flexible, however, and the cash value growth is tied to interest rates and the market, so you’ll need to closely monitor your policy to ensure it stays in good standing.

Guardian offers both standard and variable universal life insurance, which allows you to invest the cash value in subaccounts tied to the stock market. Universal life policies from Guardian are available to applicants from age 18 up to age 85.

Guardian offers several riders, which can modify your coverage to meet your needs and address individual concerns.

Term life insurance riders

  • Accelerated terminal illness: Also known as an accelerated death benefit, this benefit makes some of your death benefits available while you’re still alive if you have a terminal illness.
  • Accidental death: Increases cash benefit to beneficiaries in the event of accidental death or dismemberment. 
  • Charitable benefit: Adds 1% to your death benefit (up to $100,000) to be donated to a charity of your choice.
  • Guaranteed renewability: Ensures coverage as long as you continue paying premiums. Can be useful if you have a serious illness and no other coverage options.
  • Term conversion: Lets you turn a term life policy into whole life insurance in the first five years for no extra charge and without a medical exam. An optional extended conversion rider lets you extend that timeframe by as much as 30 years. 
  • Waiver of premium rider: For a flat fee, your premiums are covered if you become disabled while the policy is in force. If you convert your policy, an optional Waiver Plus rider can cover whole life premiums.

Whole life insurance riders

  • Accelerated terminal illness: If you have a chronic or terminal illness, you can access a portion of your death benefit during your lifetime at no extra charge. 
  • Accidental death: A cash benefit to beneficiaries in the event of accidental death or dismemberment. 
  • Charitable benefit: Adds 1% to your death benefit (up to $100,000)  to be donated to a charity of your choice.
  • Index participation: You can allocate all or some paid-up additions to receive a dividend adjustment based on the S&P 500 Price Return Index. (Subject to a cap and floor).
  • Guaranteed insurability: Ensures continued coverage as long as your premiums are paid on time. Can be helpful if you have a life-threatening or terminal illness and no other coverage options. 
  • Paid-up additions: Additional coverage that can increase your whole life policy’s death benefit and cash value.
  • Waiver of premium: Your policy remains in effect if illness or injury make you unable to work and keep paying premiums.

These are Guardian’s rates for a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy for healthy male and female non-smokers. Your quote may vary significantly, however, based on your age, health, lifestyle and other factors.

Guardian monthly estimate (male) National average (male) Guardian monthly estimate (female) National average (female)
$33 $30.20 $27 $22.65
$35 $29.32 $27 $22.98
$51 $42.94 $40 $35.27
$124 $102.50 $86 $78.29
$333 $268.04 $224 $194.16

Guardian is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to customer service. It landed just below the average on J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, which surveys customers about product offerings, price, communication, interactions and statements. At the same time, it receives considerably fewer complaints than other insurers, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The Better Business Bureau gave Guardian an A rating, using customer complaints and other public information to determine how it’s likely to interact with policyholders.

Guardian also earned a financial strength rating of A++ from A.M. Best, the agency’s highest rating and a good indicator of its ability to pay out benefits to policyholders.

While Guardian doesn’t sell homeowners or auto insurance, it does offer many other financial products:

  • Disability insurance: Provides income if you’re unable to work due to injury or illness. Guardian earned a top spot in our list of the best disability insurance companies.
  • Dental insurance: Offers individual and employer dental insurance policies.
  • Vision insurance: Offers individual and employer vision insurance policies.
  • Accident insurance: Pays out in the event of injury or death due to an accident. Can also cover transportation, lodging and other costs not covered by health insurance.
  • Critical illness insurance: A lump-sum cash benefit to cover expenses associated with a stroke, cancer or other qualifying medical conditions.
  • Hospital indemnity insurance: Supplemental policy that covers out-of-pocket costs related to a hospital stay, including out-of-network care, transportation and child care.

Guardian Life Nationwide State Farm
Term life, whole life, universal life, variable universal life Term life, whole life, universal life, variable universal life, indexed universal, final expense Term life, whole life, universal life, final expense
$35 month (male), $27 (female) $24.18 (male), $19.61 (female) $28.29 (male or female)
$100,000 (term) $100,000 (term) $50,000 (term)
Average Superior Superior
$1.398 billion N/A $725 million
Flexibility, options for seniors Bundling discounts Customer satisfaction

Guardian vs. State Farm

State Farm Life Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • App available

  • Policy highlights

    State Farm offers a variety of term, whole, and universal life insurance products to choose from, alongside other types of insurance. It’s rated highly for both financial stability and customer service.

While Guardian is available in all 50 states, State Farm is not issuing new policies in Massachusetts or Rhode Island. The two offer many of the same options, however, including joint life insurance, and you’ll need to work with an agent to buy any policy from either company.

The two are also about on par with pricing: Guardian gave a quote of $35 a month for a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy for a 30-year-old male nonsmoker in excellent health and $27 for a female nonsmoker. The same policy from State Farm is $28.29 for either a man or a woman. But since State Farm also sells auto and homeowners insurance, you can earn a bundling discount.

State Farm offers final expense coverage, which can take care of funeral costs and other end-of-life expenses. And in 2023, State Farm ranked highest on J.D. Power’s customer service survey for the fourth year in a row.

Guardian vs. Nationwide

Nationwide Life Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • App available

  • Policy highlights

    Life insurance policies through Nationwide can come with several benefits, including the ability to keep all of your insurance policies in one place. Nationwide offers term, whole and universal life insurance, and offers a no-exam term life insurance option that can be bought online with coverage up to $1.5 million.

If robust coverage without a medical examination is your priority, Guardian offers no-exam policies up to $3 million — twice Nationwide’s limit. But, while you can buy Nationwide’s Life Essential plan online, you’ll have to work with a Guardian agent to get a policy.

On price, Nationwide comes out slightly ahead: A 20-year term rate policy with $500,000 coverage costs about $24.18 a month for a 30-year-old male nonsmoker and $19.61 for a female nonsmoker. The same policy with Guardian would cost about $35 a month for a man and $27 for a woman. Nationwide also offers a multipolicy discount if you bundle life insurance with a home or auto policy.

Nationwide tops Guardian on customer service, too. It came in second in J.D. Power’s customer survey in 2023.

Nationwide offers life insurance in 47 states

Shop for the best life insurance

To purchase life insurance, you can enter your contact info on the Guardian website and a representative will reach out to you. You can also locate a financial professional in your area by entering your zip code.

Guardian customer service representatives can be reached at 888-482-7342, Mondays to Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

While rate quotes are available online, you can’t buy a life insurance policy on the Guardian website—not even for term life insurance. You can submit claims online, however, as well as view your bill and make payments.

You can manage payments and chat with a representative on the Guardian app.

If you prioritize customer service, higher age limits and annual dividends, Guardian is definitely worth considering. It also offers no-medical-exam coverage up to $3 million, which is higher than almost all of the companies we’ve reviewed.

Guardian might not be a good fit if you like handling business online, however, or want to keep your home, auto and life insurance with one company.

FAQs

How long does Guardian life insurance take to pay out?

According to Guardian, most life insurance claims are decided within 15 calendar days if all the necessary information is supplied promptly. Claims involving an accident are usually resolved within three to four weeks, however.

Who took over Guardian Life Insurance?

Guardian Life Insurance merged with Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America in 2001.

What is the age limit for a whole life insurance policy with Guardian?

Whole life insurance policies are available through Guardian up to age 90.

Does Guardian Life Insurance require a medical exam?

Guardian offers a no-medical exam term life insurance policy for those up to age 50 and up to $3 million of coverage.

Can I buy a Guardian life insurance policy online?

No, you’ll need to work with a financial professional to purchase a term, whole or universal life insurance policy from Guardian.

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At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every insurance review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of insurance products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.