Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

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Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Type Mutual
Industry Insurance: Life & Health
Founded 1860
Headquarters 7 Hanover Square
Manhattan, New York City
Key people Deanna Mulligan, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO); D. Scott Dolfi, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Employees 5,400 (2009-12-31)
Website www.guardianlife.com, www.guardiananytime.com

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. A mutual insurer, the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and its subsidiaries sell life, disability income, and group medical and dental insurance products, and offer 401(k), annuities, and other financial products. Guardian operates one of the largest dental networks in the United States, covering more than six million employees and their families at 120,000 companies. The company has more than 5,400 employees in the United States and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 80 agencies nationwide.[citation needed]

History[edit]

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, Peennsylvania; 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. In July 2001, the company completed a merger with Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America (BLICOA) to capitalize on the synergies in the disability insurance business that existed between the two organizations.[citation needed] In 2006, Guardian acquired a majority interest in RS Investments.[citation needed]

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).

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.[1][2] 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.[2]

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