4.4

Annuity.org Star Rating

Guardian Life

Guardian Logo
Our Take

Guardian Life has exceptional financial strength ratings and is recognized for outstanding customer service. The website lacks specific details about annuity contracts, making agent interaction necessary to learn more about Guardian Life annuities.

Pros

  • Recognized by J.D. Power for “outstanding customer service experience” for phone support
  • Awarded highest AM Best financial strength rating of A++
  • Provides transparent pricing and performance history for variable annuities 
  • Free rider with select annuities

Cons

  • Must contact agent for specific annuity information 
  • Product information available online is difficult to understand 
  • Fitch’s financial strength rating for Guardian Life was withdrawn for unclear reasons

Products Offered by Guardian Life

Guardian Life offers three types of annuities — fixed, fixed index and variable. Unfortunately, compared to other carriers, Guardian Life has minimal information about their annuity products online. 

If you want specific information about each annuity type, such as fees and minimum initial premium requirements, dial (800) 221-3253 to connect with one of Guardian Life’s agents. 

Below is general information about Guardian Life’s annuities. 

Fixed Annuities

Guardian Life sells deferred and immediate fixed annuities. The Guardian Fixed Target Annuity℠ is deferred, offering a guaranteed rate of return for three- to 10-year periods.

You can withdraw the money in your fixed deferred annuity at any time as a single withdrawal or through scheduled payments. A charge of up to 7% may apply for some withdrawals. 

You also can renew your contract after your initial interest rate period expires.

Guardian Life has two immediate fixed annuities — The Guardian Guaranteed Income Annuity and Guardian SecureFuture Income Annuity℠. With these annuities, you receive fixed payments for five years or more, or you can choose to get income for life.

You also have the option to add a rider to your annuity that increases your income by 1% to 5% each contract year. 

Fixed Index Annuities

Guardian Secure Index Annuity allows you to re-select your index annually. But you can’t choose any index; you must select from the insurer’s approved list on a basis determined by the insurance company.

Guardian Life’s fixed index annuity mitigates market risk, protecting your premium even in a market downturn. 

Variable Annuities 

The Guardian Investor ProSeries Variable Annuity℠ offers more than 30 choices across four distinct strategies, including alternative investments to promote growth. 

Guardian’s variable annuity also includes an income rider at no additional cost. The rider allows you to turn gains and portions of your initial investment into a guaranteed fixed income stream after two years of ownership. The fixed income stream will be unaffected by the market and accessible at a future date.

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About Guardian Life

Guardian Life was founded in 1860 as Germania Life Insurance Company of America. In 1918, the company changed its name to Guardian Life. 

Guardian Life has acquired and merged with several companies over the years.

  • 2001 – Merged with Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America
  • 2013 – Guardian Life acquired ReedGroup
  • 2014 – Purchased Premier Access Insurance Company
  • 2016 – Completed acquisition of Avēsis

Guardian Life is now one of the largest mutual insurance companies in the United States with $11 billion in capital and $1.7 billion in operating income. In 2022, Guardian Life had more than $10 million of annual annuity premiums.

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Credit Ratings

Credit ratings for annuity providers provide transparent rankings of a company’s financial strength. A company’s financial strength indicates the stability of a company’s finances and how likely they are to pay out claims.

Different rating companies use different scales.

Guardian Life Credit Ratings

Rating Company Credit Rating
AM Best A++ 
Fitch Withdrawn*
S&P A++

* Fitch affirmed Guardian Life’s financial strength rating of AA+ in 2022. However, the rating has been withdrawn for commercial reasons. 

Fitch did not clarify what commercial reasons caused the ratings withdrawal. However, Fitch did specify Guardian Life’s AA+ affirmed report “reflects the company’s favorable operating profile, exceptionally strong capitalization, high-quality investments, and generally strong and stable operating results.”

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What Customers Are Saying About Guardian Life

Upon reviewing Guardian Life, we found zero complaints reported in the NAIC database for this provider. 

The NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) tracks customer complaints that each state’s insurance commission receives each year. These are used to compile a company’s NAIC Complaint Index.NAIC Complaint IndexDetermined by dividing the company’s share of complaints in the U.S. market by the company’s share of premiums in the U.S. market. The National Complaint Index is always 1.00, so a score of 2.00, for example, is twice as high as expected in the market.

When looking only at annuity policies, Guardian Life had zero complaints on record while having more than $10 million in annual direct annuity premiums. This indicates most customers are satisfied with their Guardian Life annuity. 

NAIC Complaint Index for Guardian Life

All Policy Types 0.79
Individual Annuities Only 0
These numbers indicate that Guardian Life receives fewer complaints than the industry average for all insurance policy types and individual annuities specifically.

A 2023 Guardian Life article also states that J.D. Power has recognized Guardian Life’s outstanding customer service experience for phone customer support.

Ryan Cicchelli, an annuity agent, has two decades of experience in the annuity industry. He found that many annuity companies are notoriously slow with customer service support. 

“Now, I can say that one of the biggest things to consider, without question, is customer service. For example, there are carriers where […] you can’t get someone on the phone unless you sit on hold for two hours,” Cicchelli told Annuity.org.

Guardian Life Pros & Cons

Guardian Life has been recognized for outstanding customer service and had no complaints reported in the NAIC database. Those who value the integrity of top-tier customer service and satisfaction may find these pros particularly appealing. 

Other pros to consider include transparent pricing and performance history for variable annuities. Many companies don’t highlight the performance history of their annuity products. 

Several products also come with extra benefits. For example, Guardian’s variable annuity includes an income rider free of charge. 

Yet, compared to other issuers, Guardian Life’s website has little to no information about their annuities. For specific information, you’ll need to contact an agent. The brochures available on the website are very complex and difficult for the average reader to understand.

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Provider Rating Methodology

Annuity.org created a fact-based methodology to analyze the strength, security and reach of different annuity providers. We assessed companies based on their availability, the number of direct premiums sold, their AM Best Financial Strength Rating and their NAIC Complaint Index score.

Providers received a rating on a five-star scale for each of these categories, with the complaint index and financial strength ratings weighed as the heaviest variables. Then, using a weighted average, each company was assigned an overall star rating.

Top-Ranked Annuity Providers

Provider Annuity.org Star Rating
Mass Mutual 5 star rating
New York Life 5 star rating
Pacific Life 5 star rating
Midland National 5 star rating
North American 5 star rating
Western & Southern 5 star rating

Our Rating Panel

Annuity.org expert panel for providers pages

The Annuity.org editorial team spoke with several different annuity experts to learn more about what is important to customers when searching for a provider and what factors make a company reliable. While Annuity.org designed the methodology, these experts provided feedback during the process and consulted on what factors we should leverage to best help prospective buyers compare providers. 

Please seek the advice of a qualified professional before making financial decisions.
Last Modified: February 1, 2024
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