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New Disability Income Insurance Options Provide More Choice for California's Small Business Owners
Date:12/3/2009

PASADENA, Calif., Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- For California's 3.4 million owners(1) of small businesses, the risk of disability remains one of the most significant threats to not only their personal financial well being, but also their business's viability.

"As the recession and market declines have taken their toll, owners of small businesses are recognizing the need to shore up their financial safety net with enhanced disability coverage," said Michael Hagedorn, CFP, CLU, Disability Income Specialist at The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America's California-Pacific agency.

To meet this need, Guardian -- a national leader in providing insurance solutions for small business owners -- has announced innovative programs designed to help protect California business owners in the event of a disability. The new programs solve the critical problems of covering overhead expenses and succession-oriented buy-outs for business owners, while a new worksite program gives employees access to disability policies that are portable when and if they change employers.

The two new business insurance protection solutions include:

  • Overhead Expense coverage, which covers typical business expenses in the event of disability such as rent, utilities, phone, staff salaries and other fixed costs that are due and payable whether a small business owner is at work every day or not. It can even cover the cost of an owner's temporary replacement.
  • Disability Buy-Out insurance, designed specifically to provide the company's owners with the money they would need to reimburse a disabled partner for his or her financial interest in the company, allowing the business to stay healthy while everyone is treated fairly.

"Small business owners have enough on their plates already," said Hagedorn. "These two policies make it easier for them to keep their businesses running smoothly, even if a major player experiences an unforeseen disability."

The new worksite disability program is also a major breakthrough, according to Hagedorn, because of its flexibility and portability. The new program, known as DI@Work(TM), provides access to high-quality coverage at discounted rates, with no medical underwriting restrictions. Unlike standard group long-term disability (LTD) plans, employees own their policies -- policies that don't include benefit caps based on an overall group's risk assessment. Plus, they can even take the policy with them should they leave the company.

The DI@Work program can be customized with a variety of value-added features(2) including:

  • Annual cost-of-living increases;
  • Waiver of premiums for up to 12 months if the policy owner becomes unemployed;
  • Additional coverage to help protect employee contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, as well as the employer match.

In addition, the program can be designed to cover incentive compensation or bonuses often left out of many group LTD plans, helping to protect these important sources of income for many highly compensated employees.

"Today's employees are more discerning about their benefits packages," observed Guardian's Hagedorn. "In an uncertain economy, Americans understand how critical their ability to earn an income is to their quality of life. To them, disability income 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."

Guardian's agencies in California -- with locations in Claremont, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Walnut Creek -- are staffed with at least one Disability Insurance Specialist, who provides local support and service for individual disability income insurance cases. The disability income insurance products described in this release are underwritten and issued by Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Pittsfield, Mass., a wholly owned stock subsidiary of Guardian.

About Guardian

A mutual insurer founded nearly 150 years ago, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America 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. (Guardian). Its key missions are to grow Guardian's individual disability income and long term care lines of business and to research and develop new insurance products.

Berkshire has been recognized by DALBAR, Inc., a leading research and rating firm for financial institutions, for excellence in communications, new business services, policy owner services and underwriting. Berkshire's call center is ranked among the top of all companies evaluated by DALBAR. In addition, Berkshire is rated A++ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company, a major insurance rating agency. More information about Berkshire can be obtained at www.BerkshireLife.com

(1) Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy (www.sba.gov/advo), Small Business Profile: California, p. 11.

(2) Some value-added features may incur additional cost.

SOURCE The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America


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SOURCE The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
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