Guardian Life Insurance Company of America keeps a sharp
eye on the investments of its policyholders. Guardian and its
subsidiaries offer life insurance, disability income insurance, and
retirement programs to individuals, business owners, and their
employees. Its employee health indemnity plans provide HMO,
PPO, and dental and vision plans, as well as disability
plans. Its Guardian Insurance & Annuity subsidiary
offers retirement options that include mutual funds and
annuity products, which its Guardian Investor
Services manages. Guardian also offers estate planning
and education savings programs. The firm is a mutual company
owned by its policyholders.
Like other bread-and-butter life insurance companies, Guardian
took advantage of the deregulated financial services market
and built up its wealth management capabilities to target baby
boomers readying for retirement. Over the years it created
broker-dealer Park Avenue Securities and launched Guardian Trust
Company to offer trust and investment management services.
Guardian also added subsidiaries in complementary
fields through acquisitions, such as disability insurance
specialist Berkshire Life Insurance and investment management
firm RS Investments.
Guardian Life's employee benefits programs cover some 6 million
members at some 115,000 companies. The benefits division also
operates one of the largest dental networks in the US through its
DentalGuard plan, including more than 88,000 dentists across the
Guardian Life's largest operating markets (by number of
associates) include New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts,
Wisconsin, and Washington State. The company offers its products in
all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Sales and Marketing
Some 3,200 financial representatives (including general agents,
brokers, and wholesalers) in more than 80 agencies throughout
the US distribute the company's products.
Guardian has taken advantage of its
stability by building up its distribution force. It
added several hundred field agents in anticipation of future
growth during 2012. It is also investing in technology to
support its services, and it is focusing on building up its sales
to small businesses and individuals.
Through these measures, Guardian continued to achieve solid
financial results in fiscal 2013, with revenues increasing 37%
to $10.9 billion due to higher premiums, annuity
considerations, and fund deposits, as well as growth in investment
and other income earnings.
Net income also rose in 2013, rising 13% to $286 million due to
higher revenues and net realized capital gains.
To achieve growth, Guardian takes a long view of things in
setting its strategic goals. Those goals include improving its
products, expanding its distribution, and enhancing its service
capabilities. The company selectively invests in opportunities that
support its financial stability and strength in order
to heighten its ability to pay competitive policyholder
dividends over time. Guardian also forms strategic partnerships and
has widened options for its investment customers by adding new
funding vehicle options.
The company has also positioned itself for future growth
and bolstered its competitive edge by preparing its group
employee benefits business for post-health care reform
changes. Steps taken included adding new products, enhancing
support services, customizing worksite and voluntary benefit
offerings, and expanding the benefit distribution
networks. Additionally, Guardian added new life insurance
policy options and individual disability products to expand
Like most mutual life insurers, Guardian only experienced
minor losses during the economic crisis of 2008. Its conservative
investment practices, which may have seemed dowdy in headier times,
protected the company's holdings.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2012, Guardian expanded its dental PPO operations through the
acquisition of MasterCare DENTS. The purchase added members and
providers in the southwestern US. In addition, the firm added
absence management services through the buy of Reed Group in 2013;
that acquisition bolstered the company's disability operations.
Hugo Wesendonck came to the US from Germany in 1850 to escape a
death sentence for his part in an abortive 1848 revolution. After
working in the silk business in Philadelphia, he moved to New York,
which was home to more ethnic Germans than any city save Berlin and
In 1860 Wesendonck and other expatriates formed an insurance
company to serve the German-American community. Germania Life
Insurance was chartered as a stock mutual, which paid dividends to
shareholders and policy owners. Wesendonck was its first
The Civil War blocked the company's growth in the South, but it
expanded in the rest of the US and by 1867 even operated in South
After the Civil War, many insurers foundered from high costs.
Wesendonck battled this by implementing strict cost controls and
limiting commissions, allowing the company to continue issuing
dividends and rebates on its policyholders' premiums.
In the 1870s Germania opened offices in Europe, and for the next
few decades much of the company's growth was there. By 1910, 46% of
sales originated in Europe. The company's target clientele in the
US decreased between the 1890s and WWI as German immigration
slowed, and its market share dropped from ninth in 1880 to 21st in
During WWI the company lost contact with its German business.
Prodded by anti-German sentiment in the US, the company changed its
name to The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in 1917.
After WWI the company began winding down its German business (a
process that lasted until 1952).