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Guardian Highlights Significance of Critical Illness Insurance During National Stroke Awareness Month
Date:5/4/2009

Coverage Can Provide an Unrestricted Financial Lifeline for Americans Struggling With Serious Illnesses

NEW YORK, May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) supports National Stroke Awareness Month in May and asks families, business owners, benefits decision makers and employees to consider the financial consequences that this devastating illness can have on a person's financial security.

According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the number one cause of adult disability. Approximately 780,000 strokes will occur in 2009 and can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender or age. More than two-thirds of individuals who survive a stroke will have some form of disability.

Understandably, health issues are the primary concern when initially faced with such an illness. However, financial considerations soon enter the equation as families struggle with escalating expenses and often the loss of income. Critical illness insurance provides a lump-sum cash payment when someone is diagnosed with a serious illness such as a stroke. This financial lifeline can be used at the policyholder's discretion and can provide crucial funds to pay for both out-of-pocket medical expenses (medical deductibles & co-payments, out-of-network costs, experimental treatments) and often unanticipated indirect costs such as child care expenses, loss of a family member's income from time off, and travel to treatment centers.

Guardian, a leading national provider of employee benefits, encourages Americans to explore how critical illness insurance can help them in their fight against strokes, and other serious illnesses such as heart attacks, cancer, major organ transplants and kidney disease. The company has made available a report titled "Benefits & Behavior: Spotlight on Group Critical Illness Insurance" which provides insights into Americans' financial concerns if faced with a serious illness. The report can be found at www.GuardianBenefits.com.

"When someone is recovering from a prevalent event like stroke, they face a number of medical and non-medical expenses that are not covered by traditional insurance," said Barry Petruzzi, 2nd vice president, Group Benefits. "Until they're having to cope with the situation, they don't realize the financial dilemma that these expenses can present. Many families resort to using savings or credit cards to cover these expenses. This strategy quickly backfires as expenses continue to rise compounded by interest, which leaves the family in ever deepening financial debt."

Important Facts about Critical Illness Insurance and Disability Insurance

  • Group critical illness insurance is an affordable complement to disability and medical plans, such as high deductible health plans.
  • Disability income payments generally begin a few months after a disabling event. Most expenses related with serious illnesses like stroke are encountered up front as part of initial recovery and critical illness insurance can help provide needed financial support during this time.
  • While disability insurance can help pay a portion of ongoing expenses like mortgage and everyday bills, disability income payments can often be taxed, reducing the payout amount. When coping with a major illness people likely incur bills above and beyond what they are normally used to because of things like a loved one's time off from work, travel to treatment centers and medically necessary home modifications.
  • The Family Medical Leave Act enables relatives to take time off from work to care for loved ones, but does not guarantee pay. Critical illness insurance can be used to cover lost income for prevalent illnesses that trigger FMLA absences.

From Guardian's Benefits & Behavior: Spotlight on Group Critical Illness Insurance Study:

  • More than 90% of adults in the U.S. know someone who has battled some form of critical illness, and 64% know someone who has suffered from a stroke with nearly half (48%) having had a family member afflicted.
  • 70% of consumers say their families would sustain financial hardship or stress if they were to suffer a critical illness.
  • One-fifth (21%) of those who suffered a critical illness in their family such as a stroke used a credit card to pay for recovery expenses.

"In this current time when value for the dollar is more important than ever, Guardian's comprehensive critical illness coverage when purchased at work is an affordable way to ensure families are adequately protected to cope with life's uncertainties and protect their financial security," added Petruzzi. "This coverage provides lump sum cash payments for certain serious illnesses along with per-day benefits for extended hospital stays for all other medical conditions. Policyholders can use these funds at their discretion, which can be crucial to a family's financial security at a very difficult time."

About Guardian

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), one of the largest and oldest mutual life insurance companies in the United States, is known for its stability and strength. A Fortune 300 company, Guardian is the only major life insurer to earn upgrades from two major rating agencies in 2008: A++ (Superior) by A.M. Best and AA+ (Very Strong) by Standard & Poor's. Guardian also has retained ratings of Aa2 (Excellent) by Moody's and AA+ (Very Strong) by Fitch (ratings current as of April, 2009).

Founded nearly 150 years ago, Guardian and its subsidiaries are committed to protecting individuals, business owners and their employees with life, long term care insurance, disability income and dental insurance products, and offer 401(k), annuities and other financial products and trust services.

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.


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SOURCE The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
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