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Guardian Brings Income Protection to New Level with Student Loan Protection Program
Date:2/22/2010

NEW YORK, Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- A unique program unveiled today by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) enables medical and dental professionals to protect their ability to repay their student loans in the event they become disabled.

Available only from Guardian, the Student Loan Protection Program uses the company's Business Reducing Term (BRT) policy, which is specifically designed to fund financial obligations that require periodic payments expiring at a given time. The new program will insure up to 100% of monthly loan payments -- up to $2,000 a month -- should a doctor or dentist become totally disabled.

"We created this program at the suggestion of our agents, who reported that the greatest financial fear cited by their clients in residency programs or in newly established medical and dental practices is defaulting on their student loans if a disability prevents them from working," said Lawrence S. Hazzard, Vice President of Product Strategy at Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America (Berkshire), the Guardian company that issues individual disability income insurance and administers the BRT policy.

"These professionals see how an unexpected illness or injury can threaten a person's financial well-being every day, so they're acutely aware of it," he added.

According to a 2008 survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges, 87.5 percent of medical school graduates have outstanding student loans; the average debt load is approximately $140,000. And dentists face even greater financial pressures, according to the American Dental Association's Annual Survey of Dental School Seniors: Their average debt at graduation is $186,000 for public dental schools and a staggering $205,000 for private institutions.

Because a BRT policy can be structured to coordinate precisely with the term and amount of the loan, and because the lender is named as the loss payee on the policy, having this coverage in place is a win-win for the student loan holder and lending institution alike.

Any medical or dental professional who is in the process of applying for -- or who already owns -- a Guardian individual disability income policy is eligible for coverage under the Student Loan Protection Program. And, since the student loan benefits are above and beyond regular issue and participation limits for individual disability income insurance, Guardian is able to offer medical and dental professionals combined monthly coverage of up to $17,000 -- the highest in the industry.

"At a time when the nation's financial landscape remains uncertain, insurance representatives are in a unique position to offer their medical and dental clients a program with which no other company can compete, one that addresses the needs of lenders as well," Hazzard concluded. "In doing so, we are signaling Guardian's long-term commitment to two key sectors of the U.S. economy -- health care and financial institutions."

For more information about the Student Loan Protection Program, 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 Income Specialist, who provides local sales support and service for individual disability income insurance cases.

About Guardian

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. For more information about Guardian, please visit 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.

SOURCE The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

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SOURCE The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
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