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{ts '2008-06-26 00:00:00.000'}

For media inquiries, contact:
Wendy Webster Coakley
Berkshire Life
Tel: 413.395.4467
Fax: 413.395.5986
Anayo Afolabi
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Tel: 212.598.8329
Fax: 212.919.2790

NEW YORK, N.Y., June 26, 2008 — Owners of startup and even well established small businesses face numerous challenges: securing funding, hiring staff and marketing their services. Now, thanks to two new initiatives announced by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), obtaining appropriate income protection won’t be another obstacle.

Offered by its wholly owned stock subsidiary, Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America (Berkshire), entrepreneurs will now benefit from these programs:
  • Business Owner Advantage, which increases individual disability income insurance issue limits for business owners; and
  • A new underwriting practice that will enable Berkshire to make better offers for individual disability income coverage to owners of new businesses.
"We're very excited by these two initiatives," observed Susan B. LeBourdais, Berkshire's Director of Growth Segment Marketing. "By making a concerted effort to understand the unique needs of the small business customer, we were able to rethink how we go about offering individuals in this key market the most comprehensive package of income protection."

More Competitive Solutions
The Business Owner Advantage program increases issue limits for business owners, up to a maximum of $2,000 of additional monthly benefit. This change positions Guardian well ahead of its competition. Participation limits will also increase in alignment with increased issue limits.
The program is available in all states for business owners outside the medical/dental market, where Guardian has long been an industry leader.
"We're well known among physicians and dentists, as well as the agents and brokers who advise them, for the high-quality features of our individual disability income insurance offering," LeBourdais remarked.

"By now allowing business owners to qualify for some of the most competitive coverage in their marketplace, we're signaling our intention to be the income protection provider of choice for this vitally important segment of the economy as well."
How does it work? Say you're a business owner with annual earned income of $50,000. Previously, you would have qualified for a maximum monthly benefit of $2,850. With Business Owner Advantage, your monthly issue limit would increase by $500, to $3,350.
Business owners earning $150,000 would experience a $910 monthly increase, to $7,660; those earning $300,000 would benefit from a $2,000 increase, to $13,050 a month.
"These are examples; of course, each client's circumstances are individually evaluated to ensure that coverage, when issued, is appropriate," LeBourdais noted.

But the advantage for business owners doesn't stop there.
"Not only do we now offer a very generous individual disability income benefit structure for business owners," LeBourdais said, "we do so with a policy that provides truly optimal coverage—with an industry-best residual benefit, flexible COLA options and other superior features."

Start-Up-Savvy Underwriting
Owners of brand-new businesses are often challenged to provide the type of financial documentation typically required by individual disability income underwriters because their businesses have not been up and running long enough to generate the necessary tax returns.

However, many of these new business owners have a track record of success in a corporate setting and are now establishing businesses of their own, with a high likelihood of success that can be assessed by looking at prior W-2 income, as well as other indicators of the knowledge and motivation to succeed as entrepreneurs—such as whether the new business builds on their prior experience; whether it's located in an outside office or is home based; whether the owner has an advanced degree like a CPA or MBA; and what the circumstances were behind the move from W-2 employment to starting a business.
Ironically, LeBourdais noted, by leaving a W-2 job, these business owners often have a heightened awareness of the need for income protection, having lost their group long-term disability coverage. But applying normal underwriting criteria would, at best, provide scenarios where the monthly benefit offered is not commensurate with earnings or, at worst, disqualify such applicants altogether.
Under Berkshire's new approach, a former corporate technology executive (age 45, 10+ years of experience) with W-2 earnings of $100,000 who voluntarily left to establish a similar technology services business with an outside office location could be eligible for up to $3,000 or more of monthly individual disability income coverage.

Combined with $6,000 of Future Increase Option, the new entrepreneur in this example would be able to consider a viable, competitive offer for insurance that previously would not have been possible.
"As Guardian and Berkshire strive to understand the needs of small business owners at every life stage of their businesses, we're simply recognizing that there are, in fact, a range of factors that need to be considered," LeBourdais concluded.
"This approach gives us the flexibility to create an income protection solution that is better aligned with each business owner's unique situation."
For more information about Business Owner Advantage, as well as other small business-focused income protection programs, producers should contact the nearest Guardian agency via www.GuardianLife.com/service_center/find_a_local_office.html Each agency is staffed with at least one Disability Insurance Specialist, who provides local sales support and service for individual disability income insurance cases.

About Guardian
Founded in 1860, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY (Guardian) is one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the United States. As of December 31, 2007, Guardian and its subsidiaries had $41.3 billion in assets (on a consolidated statutory basis). With close to 3,000 financial representatives and 80 agencies nationwide, Guardian and its subsidiaries protect individuals, small business owners, and their employees with life, disability, health, long-term care, and dental insurance products, and offer 401(k), annuities, and other financial products and trust services. Specializing in the small to mid-size business market, Guardian's Group business unit serves more than 120,000 employers, 6 million employees, and their families. More information about Guardian can be obtained at: www.GuardianLife.com.

About Berkshire
Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Pittsfield, Mass. (Berkshire), is a wholly owned stock subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, N.Y. Its key missions are to grow Guardian's disability income and long-term care lines of business and to research and develop new insurance products. More information about Berkshire can be obtained at www.BerkshireLife.com.

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