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.

Operations

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 US.

Geographic Reach

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.

Financial Performance

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.

Strategy

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 customer options.

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.

Company Background

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 Vienna.

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 president.

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 America.

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 1910.

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).

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The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America


7 Hanover Sq
New York, NY 10004-4025
Phone: 1 (212) 598-8000
Fax: 1 (212) 919-2762
www.guardianlife.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private Mutual Company
  • President and CEO: Deanna M. Mulligan
  • COO: D. Scott Dolfi
  • President and CEO: Deanna M. Mulligan

Major Office Locations

  • New York, NY

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