Guardian Physician Disability Insurance Review (Updated 2022)
The Guardian Life Insurance Company is one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the world. Originally called Germania Life Insurance, Guardian was founded by a German civil rights lawyer in 1860 who wanted to serve his fellow countrymen living in America (same origin story as The Standard). Less than two years later, Germania Life Insurance had branches all around the country.
Today Guardian Life Insurance is based in New York City, has over 9,000 employees and 29 million customers. They provide life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, and other benefits for individuals, at the workplace, and through government-sponsored programs. Although the company is not officially accredited by the Better Business Bureau, Guardian’s Life Insurance page does have several negative reviews that are current and worth reading before considering them as your insurer.
- Company is very financially stable and has the highest financial strength ratings by A.M. Best
- Guardian’s definition of disability is one of the most comprehensive among disability insurance companies
- Partial disability benefit provides coverage options that other companies don’t
- Stricter underwriting guidelines mean that applicants with pre-existing health conditions may not be approved
- Typically the most expensive option among disability insurance carriers
- Underwriting times can be slower than other companies
Maximum Monthly Coverage
2 year, 5 year, 10 year, Age 65, Age 67, Age 70
30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, 365 days, 720 days
Definition of Disability
Base policy provides own-occupation coverage if you are not working in another occupation. True own-occupation coverage is available as an add-on rider.
- Automatic benefit enhancement
- Hospice care benefit
- Occupational rehabilitation
- Presumptive disability
- Unemployment premium suspension
- Waiver of premium
- Basic or enhanced partial rider
- Catastrophic disability benefit
- Cost of living adjustment benefit
- Future increase option
- Retirement protection
- Social insurance substitute
- Student loan protection
- Unemployment waiver of premium
If totally disabled, you will receive benefits even if you can work another job.
Guardian Physician Disability Insurance Highlights
Guardian’s physician disability insurance is called Guardian Provider Choice. The Provider Choice Premier Package is underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life, a wholly-owned stock subsidiary of Guardian Life. When purchasing disability insurance, it’s important you understand the base policy as well as its features:
Own-occupation is whether an insurance company agrees if you are disabled and entitled to benefits, or not. For example, if you are a nurse but can no longer work as a nurse but can work in another role, some insurance companies will pay you disability benefits and some won’t.
Guardian has one of the best definitions of own-occupation for physician disability insurance. At Guardian, if you are totally disabled, you will still receive full benefits even if you are gainfully employed in another occupation. In addition, you may be able to collect full benefits even if you can still practice your own specialty, but in a limited capacity due to a disability. Guardian considers you totally disabled if more than 50% of your income is from either hands-on patient care or surgical procedures and you can no longer perform those duties or procedures due to injury or illness.
Non-Cancellable & Guaranteed Renewable
A non-cancellable disability insurance policy means the insurance company can’t cancel, increase your premiums or reduce your benefits as long as you pay the premiums. The policy at Guardian is non-cancellable and guaranteed renewable to either age 65 or 67.
The benefit period determined what age the insurance company will stop paying your benefits. For example, if you become disabled at age 45, some insurers will pay out your benefits until age 65, some until age 70, some let you choose, etc. It all depends on the company you decide to buy your policy with. At Guardian, you can purchase benefit period coverage for up to ages 65, 67 and 70. You can also elect 10-year, 5-year, and 2-year benefit periods.
The elimination period in a disability insurance contract is the length of time between your injury or illness began, and the time the insurance company starts making payments. Guardian’s physician disability is available with the following elimination periods:
Guardian does not have any mental or nervous limitations for most medical specialties in states other than California and Florida. Certain specialties do have a 24-month limitation on benefits for mental disability claims, including anesthesiologists, anesthetists (MD, DO & CRNA), emergency room physicians, and pain management physicians.
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Guardian Physician Disability Insurance Riders
A rider is an optional provision within the disability insurance contract that provides extra benefits or flexibility depending on your situation. Most riders come with an added cost, but it depends on the insurer.
Cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA) Rider
A COLA rider is meant to match your benefits with the rate of inflation. Guardian’s Provider Choice disability insurance has 3 cost-of-living adjustment riders available:
- Increase benefits by a guaranteed 3% compounded annually
- Increase benefits based on the Consumer Price Index, with a minimum 3% and a maximum of 6% annually
- The last option delays COLA increases until the fourth anniversary of your disability, with benefits increases thereafter by 3% annually on a compound basis.
There is no cap on Guardian’s COLA Rider. Once disability benefits end, increases of $300 or more will be added to the policy’s monthly benefit without additional premium.
Residual Disability Rider
Guardian offers two types of residual disability riders:
- A loss of earnings of at least 20%; AND
- You are able to perform some, but not all, of the substantial and material duties of your occupation; OR
- You cannot work full time
- You’ll be paid 100% of your policy’s monthly benefit for total disability if your loss of earnings exceeds 75%
- An amount proportional to your loss of pre-disability income if it’s under 75%
- A minimum of 50% of your policy’s monthly benefit for total disability for the first six months of residual disability
Under the enhanced rider, to be considered residually disabled, you must incur a loss of earnings of at least 15%. You will be paid the following benefits under the rider:
- During the first 12 months of partial disability, the monthly benefit is equal to the loss of income not to exceed the maximum monthly benefit, with a minimum of 50% of the monthly benefit for total disability.
- A loss of 75% or more of prior income will be considered a loss of 100%
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Guardian Physician Disability Insurance Alternatives
MassMutual has a great COLA rider which guarantees an increase to the benefit every year. By the 6th year, the MassMutual COLA rider increases the payout by 16%! That said, their own-occupation is weak. If you can work at all, then MassMutual pay not pay you full benefits.
Learn More: MassMutual Disability Insurance Review
Ohio National Disability Insurance
Ohio National has a stricter definition of own-occupation. The rider for their policy says the physician or dentist who got injured or ill must be under the care of a physician in order to receive total disability benefits.
Learn More: Ohio National Disability Insurance Review
The Standard’s disability insurance product for physicians and dentists is called Platinum Advantage. It offers a maximum benefit period is to age 67, and they have a generous definition of total disability. Overall, this is a middle-of-the-road option.
Learn More: The Standard Disability Insurance Review
Not sure which riders you need?
Is Guardian Disability Insurance Right for you?
It’s tough to read through insurance policies and understand what they mean, let alone which one you should buy. LeverageRx has an in-house specialist with over 10 years experience who will answer your questions for free. To schedule a call with him, fill out this form and he will be in touch. In the meantime, here is an overview of what is included in Guardian’s base policy:
Automatic Benefit Enhancement. This rider provides an automatic 4% compounded increase in the base monthly benefit. It’s renewable every six years if you are not disabled. Refusal of two consecutive increases forfeits any future increases and the rider terminates.
Benefit Purchase Option. The insured must purchase at least 75 percent of eligible benefits at the time of policy issue for this no-cost rider to be added to the policy. With the rider, you have the option to purchase additional coverage every three years up to age 55 with evidence of financial eligibility.
Catastrophic Disability Rider. This rider provides additional benefits in the event you are unable to perform at least two of the six activities for daily living, or you require “substantial supervision due to severe cognitive impairment.”
Hospice Care Benefit. Waives the elimination period if you are under a physician-ordered plan of care for hospice services.
Serious Illness Supplemental Benefit. If you are totally disabled due to cancer, stroke, or heart attack an additional benefit, equal to 50 percent of the monthly benefit, will be payable for a maximum of 12 months during the life of the policy.
Student Loan Protection. The student loan rider provides reimbursement of student loan payments while the insured is totally disabled. Coverage is available for a period of 10 or 15 years from the policy date. When a qualifying total disability occurs, benefits are only payable for the remaining portion of the 10 or 15-year term that has not elapsed.
- Legal Name:The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
- Year Founded:1860
- Headquarters:New York, New York
- CEO:Andrew McMahon
- AM Best Rating:A++
- Ownership Structure:Mutual
- Distribution Channels:Captive and independent
- Fortune 500/1000:226
- Insurance Products Offered:Life, disability, dental, vision, accident, critical illness, cancer, hospital indemnity, annuities and investments