Insurance advisors in California will now have another reason to
recommend individual disability insurance from The Guardian Life
Insurance Company of America (Guardian) to their clients, thanks to an
enhanced supplemental income protection program announced by the company
with benefits for business owners and their employees.
Supported by a fully customizable online educational and
enrollment system, the new offering - known as Income ProVider in the
marketplace - provides a number of ways for California employers to
differentiate their benefits portfolios in recruiting top talent.
"Employees today are even more discerning about their benefits
packages," noted Lawrence Hazzard, Vice President of Product
Strategy for Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, the Guardian
company that issues individual disability insurance to employee groups
through Guardian's supplemental income protection program.
"Especially in an uncertain economy, they understand how critical
their ability to earn an income is to their quality of life," he added.
"To them, disability insurance is no longer a luxury, and companies that
can help their employees address this concern will definitely have a leg
up on the competition."
Keeping Pace With Salary Increases
In many ways, supplemental income protection programs provide the
best of group and individual disability insurance coverage. Because it's
offered through their employer as a voluntary benefit, employees can
take advantage of discounted group rates and very few, if any, medical
underwriting restrictions (also known as Guaranteed Standard Issue, or
GSI). Unlike typical group long-term disability (LTD) plans, employees
who depend on performance incentives or bonuses for much of their income
- the sales force, for example - are able to have that variable
compensation protected. Also unlike grup LTD plans, employees actually
own their policies. They can even take them with them when they leave
With the enhanced Income ProVider newly available in California,
Guardian has taken these advantages up a notch by introducing a
portability feature - unique in the industry, and embedded right into
the contract - that gives employees a one-time opportunity to increase
their coverage up to the plan's maximum GSI offer, even if they are
Hazzard believes this will resonate strongly with California's
young and mid-career professionals, who want to protect their most
important asset - their ability to earn an income - throughout their
"Normally, if you leave the employer who offered you the original
policy, you will lose any unused GSI," he explained. "With Income
ProVider, employees can continue to protect their income even when
changing employers, a time when most people see a significant increase
in compensation. There's no lengthy application process and no
additional medical underwriting. No one else in the industry does this."
Flexibility Adds Value for Employers, Employees Alike
Guardian is also the only provider of supplemental income
protection programs offering three distinct plan options from which
employees may choose. With each plan, employees can further customize
the coverage that best fits their budget by adding optional riders to
meet different income protection needs. And, unlike other carriers who
only offer GSI coverage during the company's initial enrollment,
Guardian's plan offers additional opportunities for the employee to
enroll under the GSI offer in years 2 and 3, thereby recognizing that
personal financial circumstances may change over the course of a year.
Company benefit plan decision makers will also appreciate the
degree of flexibility afforded them during the case-design stage.
Guardian's supplemental income protection program enables business
owners and HR managers to easily incorporate variations in coverage or
funding options (such as voluntary, employer-paid or a combination of
both) for different groups within the company. In addition, multiple
definitions of total disability allow plan designers to tailor coverage
for various income and occupational needs.
"This is a welcome development for business owners in California,
as well as the agents and brokers who advise them," observed Hazzard.
"Nationally, Guardian is known as a leader in delivering solutions to
employers, both for their businesses and their employees. Now, with
statewide availability of Income ProVider, Guardian is signaling its
intention to be the income protection leader for this important segment
of the California economy as well."
A mutual insurer founded in 1860, The Guardian Life Insurance
Company of America and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting
individuals, business owners and their employees with life, disability
income and dental insurance products, and offer funding vehicles for
401(k) plans, annuities and other financial products. Guardian operates
one of the largest dental networks in the United States, and protects
more than six million employees and their families at 115,000 companies.
The company has approximately 5,000 employees in the United States and a
network of over 3,000 financial representatives in more than 80 agencies
nationwide. For more information about Guardian, please visit www.GuardianLife.com.
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