Lowers Premiums, Increases Coverage, Simplifies Enrollment
NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 — The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), a leading provider of employee and voluntary benefit products for midsize and small companies, announced enhancements that bolster its voluntary disability product lineup while lowering the cost for coverage. These changes were designed to make enrollment easier and the plans more accessible at a time when employees have more responsibility for their benefit choices. Voluntary benefits are sponsored by the employer, but fully or predominantly paid by the employee.
Disability Choice(SM), one of the company's voluntary long term disability (LTD) and short term disability (STD) programs, is different from traditional disability income plans because it provides benefits based on increments or flat amounts as opposed to a percentage of employees' salaries. This approach eliminates the need for an employee census and leads to a simplified enrollment process.
This also allows Guardian's disability insurance to be sold seamlessly with coverage such as dental that also doesn't require an employee census.
"By offering flat amounts, employees are able to choose an amount they can afford even if it is not an exact percent of their salary," said Barry Petruzzi, 2nd vice president, Group Life & Disability, Guardian. "The combination of economic uncertainty, rising healthcare costs and job losses are forcing people to focus more on insuring their income. This different approach to disability insurance makes the enrollment process easier and will allow more employees to gain access, on a voluntary basis, to broader disability income protection."
In addition to the simplified enrollment and lower premiums, Guardian has increased maximums for both STD and LTD Disability Choice plans. Previously, the maximum STD benefit was $750 and is now available up to $1,500. The maximum LTD benefit has been raised from $2,500 to up to $10,000. The amount, however, cannot exceed 60 percent of salary.
Another important feature of Disability Choice is that employees are able to increase coverage each year through the annual step-up option. The option allows employees to adjust their insurance amount as their needs and salary change. This feature is unique to these plans and also helps distinguish it from traditional voluntary disability offerings.
"The economy may be in recovery, but employers and employees are still very value-conscious and likely will be for years to come," added Petruzzi. "We've responded by reducing our already competitive rates. But we've obtained rate reductions while adding, as opposed to cutting, benefits and services. This is part of our ongoing commitment to bring best-in-class products and services at an affordable price to midsize and small businesses. Business owners and brokers have come to expect more from Guardian and we are committed to exceeding their expectations."
The recent upgrades to Guardian's Disability Choice are in addition to other recent enhancements announced last year, including:
A mutual insurer founded in 1860, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting individuals, business owners and their employees with life, long term care insurance, disability income, 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, and protects 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.