Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America is one of the top runners-up among life insurance companies. It gets very few customer complaints with the Better Business Bureau and state insurance regulators, and it's financially strong: In business since 1860, Guardian has held a top financial rating at A.M. Best for 50 years, and it's one of Weiss Ratings' strongest life insurance companies. But Guardian does garner scores that are one notch lower than the very highest financial ratings at Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings, unlike the top-rated Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance (which earns perfect scores at four of the five ratings agencies). However, Guardian's ratings are still extremely high, making it a good company to consider when you're rate-shopping.
To judge Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America's financial strength, we checked its ratings at A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings, Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Weiss Ratings. To find out how well it pleases its customers, we checked complaint data at the Better Business Bureau and National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
1. Better Business Bureau
Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America rates an A+ for trustworthiness and has been Better Business Bureau-accredited since 1957. This means it shows "a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints."
Review: BBB Reliability Report for Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, Editors of Better Business Bureau
2. National Association of Insurance Commissioners
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) logs customer complaints filed with state insurance commissions nationwide. In its "closed complaint ratio report," Guardian Life's individual life insurance complaint index (which shows the number of upheld complaints per market share) is almost nil, with only five complaints deemed the company's fault in 2009.
Review: Guardian Life Ins Co of Amer, Editors of National Association of Insurance Commissioners
3. Weiss Ratings
Guardian Life earns an A rating for financial strength from Weiss Ratings, which is considered to have the strictest ratings criteria of the major ratings agencies, at least according to one independent expert. Its grade earns Guardian a spot among the strongest life insurers, but you'll need to register (free) to see this site's lists of the best and worst life insurance companies (in terms of financial strength).
Review: Strongest and Weakest Lists, Editors of Weiss Ratings
4. Best's Review
Guardian Life currently earns A.M. Best's highest financial strength rating (A++) and it has been rated A or higher for 50 years. This report includes a short profile of the company.
Review: Standing the Test of Time, Editors of Best's Review, July 2009
5. Fitch Ratings
With an AA+ rating for financial strength, Guardian Life displays a "very strong capacity to meet policyholder and contract obligations," according to Fitch Ratings. This rating is one step below the top rating of AAA. The ratings are only available to registered users, but that's free.
Review: Fitch Ratings, Editors of Fitch Ratings
Guardian Life rates Aa2 at Moody's, just behind the top Aaa rating. This score places Guardian in the category of "high-grade companies." The site requires free registration.
Review: Insurance Financial Strength Ratings, Editors of Moody's
7. Standard & Poor's
Standard & Poor's (free registration required) rates Guardian Life AA+ for long-term financial strength -- just slightly below the top rating of AAA. This means the company still offers "excellent financial security."
Review: Insurance Rating List: Life, Editors of Standard & Poor's