The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

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The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America is one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the world. Based in Manhattan, it has approximately 8,000 employees in the United States and a network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 70 agencies nationwide. As of 2018, it ranks 239th on the Fortune 500 list of largest American corporations by revenue.[1] In 2015, Guardian achieved the highest earnings in its 155-year history with $7.3 billion in capital and $1.5 billion in operating costs.[2] Founded in Manhattan in 1860, the company offers a wide range of insurance products and services, including life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, investments, and dental and vision insurance coverage.[3]

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
IndustryInsurance: Life & Health
HeadquartersNew York, NY 10001
Key people
Andrew McMahon, president and chief executive officer (CEO)
Number of employees
8,000 employees
3,000 financial reps,


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.[4]

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.[5]

As operations expanded, the company moved to the Germania Life Insurance Company Building at Union Square in 1911[6] – 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.[7] In 1999, Guardian relocated to 7 Hanover Square in the Financial District.[8] In April 2017 the company announced plans to move several hundred employees to Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey.[9]



Guardian is the 6th largest dental provider in the US, with 6.4 million participants as of February 2015.[10] Guardian acquired First Commonwealth in 1999,[11] and acquired Premier Access in 2014,[12] and Avesis in 2016.[13]

Disability insuranceEdit

In July 2001, Guardian merged with Berkshire Life Insurance Company. As of February 2015, the newly formed Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America subsidiary administers all disability products for Guardian.[14]

Human resourcesEdit

Guardian acquired Reed Group in 2012 and through it, provides human resources to companies dealing with employees on absence due to disability. It helps manage and administer claims related to employee absences, offers "LeavePro", a software to manage absences, and offers "MDGuidelines", a web-based tool to manage employee's return to work.[15] In 2015, they grew this business by acquiring Aon Hewitt's absence management business.[16]

Investment servicesEdit

In 2006, Guardian acquired 65% of RS Investments.[17] 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.[18] In 2007, RS Investments was one of the largest stockholders in Corrections Corporation of America, with 2,486,866 shares.[19] In 2016, Victory Capital acquired RS Investments.[20]

In September 2016, Guardian sold their 401(k) business to Ameritas Life.[21]

Additionally, Guardian owns a full service broker-dealer Park Avenue Securities (PAS).[22] PAS was established in 1999 by Guardian.[23]


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 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.[24][25] 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.[25]


  1. ^ "Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  2. ^ Guardian Announces Record Earnings for 2015
  3. ^ Guardian's History
  4. ^ Cyclopedia of Insurance in the United States by Henry Rodgers Hayden, G. Reid MacKay
  5. ^ History
  6. ^ Welcome Yeshiva University - Cardozo School of Law Visitors Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Mutually Beneficial: The Guardian and Life Insurance in America, by Robert Eric Wright, George David Smith
  9. ^ Dhir, Rajeev (April 10, 2017). "Hundreds of new workers to move into historic Bell Labs building, report says". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  10. ^ Largest dental plan providers
  11. ^ Company Overview of First Commonwealth, Inc.
  12. ^ Guardian Completes Premier Access Acquisition
  13. ^ Guardian completes Avesis acquisition Archived 2016-02-28 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ The Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America Page accessed February 27, 2015
  15. ^ Reed Group in Westminster bought by Guardian Life Insurance
  16. ^ Reed Group Acquires Aon Hewitt’s Absence Management Administration Business
  17. ^ Guardian buys stake in RS Investments
  18. ^ Company Overview of RS Investment Management Co. LLC
  19. ^ Welch, Michael; Turner, Fatiniyah (2007). "Private Corrections, Financial Infrastructure, and Transportation: The New Geo-Economy of Shipping Prisoners". Social Justice. Vol. 34, no. 3. p. 59. JSTOR 29768464.
  20. ^ "Victory Capital to Acquire RS Investments | Victory Capital". Archived from the original on 2019-07-01.
  21. ^ Ameritas Life Closes on Deal to Acquire Guardian’s 401(k) Plans Business
  22. ^ Park Avenue Securities LLC
  24. ^ Laura Figueroa for The Miami Herald. November 11, 2009 Man's Fight Against Health Insurer Spurs Legislation
  25. ^ a b Juan DeJesus for NBC News. Aug 20, 2010 Paterson Signs "Ian's Law" to Protect Patients From Losing Insurance: Enhances protections for consumers when a health insurer discontinues a class of policies