Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

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Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Industry Insurance: Life & Health
Founded 1860
Headquarters 7 Hanover Square
Manhattan, New York City
Key people
Deanna M. Mulligan, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO);
D. Scott Dolfi, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Number of employees
5,400 employees
3,000 financial reps
Slogan Enriching the lives of people we touch.

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America is a Fortune 300 company founded in 1860 in Manhattan, New York City, New York. It is one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the United States. Guardian sells a variety of products including Life insurance, Disability insurance, Dental insurance, 401(k), and annuities.[1]


The former Germania/Guardian Life Insurance Building in Union Square, Manhattan.

Guardian founder Hugo Wesendonck, a German civil rights lawyer, participated in the 1848-49 revolution and helped draft a constitution for a united Germany. Accused of treason, he fled post-revolution Europe and landed in the U.S. With start-up funds from fellow German refugees, he opened Germania Life Insurance Company in 1860 on Wall Street in Manhattan, to cover the growing number of German immigrants arriving on American shores. Two years later, he opened a branch in San Francisco, and later across the country, reaching territories such as Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

In 1868, Germania became the first U.S. insurance company to start an agency in Europe. By the early 20th century, almost half its business was outside North America, until the pressures of World War I forced it to stop its business in Europe.

As operations expanded, the company moved to Union Square in 1911 – a location that would serve as Guardian's headquarters for more than 85 years. In 1979, Guardian began to regionalize many Home Office functions, and satellite offices are now located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Appleton, Wisconsin; Spokane, Washington; and Norwell, Massachusetts. In 1999, spurred by growth into a diversified financial services company, Guardian relocated its headquarters to 7 Hanover Square in the Financial District.

The company has sponsored at least two substantial corporate histories, both published by New York University Press: Anita Rapone's Guardian Life Insurance Company, 1860-1920: A History of a German-American Enterprise (1987) and Robert E. Wright and George David Smith's Mutually Beneficial: The Guardian and Life Insurance in America (2004).



Guardian is the 6th largest dental provider in the US, with 6.4 million participants as of February 2015.[2] Guardian's dental business grew substantially in 1999 with their acquisition of First Commonwealth,[3] and again in 2014 by acquiring Premier Access.[4]

Disability insurance[edit]

In July 2001, Guardian merged with Berkshire Life Insurance Company, to capitalize on the synergies in the disability insurance business that existed between the two organizations. The new formed Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America subsidiary of Guardian administers all disability products.[5]

Human resources[edit]

Guardian provides human resources consulting services through its subsidiary Reed Group, which it acquired in 2012. Reed has three distinct resources which it offers to companies dealing with employees on absence due to disability. Reed Group Services helps manage and administer claims related to employee absences. LeavePro, a software that Reed will license to companies in order to help them manage absences. MDGuidelines, a web-based tool which helps individuals and companies manage their plans for returning to work.[6]

Investment services[edit]

In 2006, Guardian acquired 65% of RS Investments.[7] RS provides its services to pensions, investment companies, high net worth individuals, corporations, and banks. It also has a selection of mutual funds which it offers to clients.[8]

Additionally, Guardian owns a full service broker-dealer Park Avenue Securities (PAS).[9] PAS was established in 1999 by Guardian.[10]


In 2009, Guardian was the subject of controversy when, in December 2008, it cancelled the insurance plan that covered Ian Pearl, who suffers from muscular dystrophy and requires 24-hour nursing care, which costs approximately a million dollars a year. Under the federal ERISA law Guardian was obligated to continue the coverage for one year after it cancelled the plan and thus policy under the plan. Guardian offered no comparable plan to replace it, and his parents characterized the cancellation as a "death sentence." His parents sued Guardian and lost the case in October 2009, when a federal judge found that Guardian had the right to terminate the entire plan. The Pearl family appealed to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and to the media, and publicized a memo that emerged during the trial, which characterized high cost policies like the one Pearl had, as "dogs" and "trainwrecks." Guardian publicly and personally apologized to the Pearls and agreed to continue coverage for Ian and two other patients in similar situations.[11][12] Ian Pearl lives in New York State, and as a result of the controversy, New York passed "Ian's Law" that among other things, requires that insurance companies that cancel insurance plans must offer similar replacement coverage to policy holders under the cancelled plan.[12]