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 8 million
members at some 120,000 companies. The benefits division also
operates one of the largest dental networks in the US through its
DentalGuard plan, including more than 83,000 dentists at more than
171,000 locations across the US.
Additional programs include NurseLine, Nurse Outreach, Lab
Discounts, and Coverage Management.
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.
More than 80% of Guardian's financial representatives have
completed the firm's social media training program and interact
with clients and partners through online channels.
Through measures to ramp up its technology, 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. Its conservative
investment practices, which may have seemed dowdy in headier times,
protected the company's holdings.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2013, Guardian added absence management services through the
purchase of Reed Group; that acquisition bolstered the company's
disability operations. The following year, the company acquired
Premier Access Insurance, which provides dental coverage and care.
The deal strengthened Guardian's dental PPO and HMO networks in
states including California, Utah, and Nevada; it also extended its
reach in the Medicaid and CHIP markets (which are expected to grow
under the Affordable Care Act).