NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--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.
“Especially in an uncertain economy, they understand how critical their ability to earn an income is to their quality of life”
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 group LTD plans, employees actually own their policies. They can even take them with them when they leave the company.
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 switching employers.
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 working lives.
“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.