Guardian 1821 Life Insurance Review

15 min Read Published: 21 Feb 2024

Guardian 1821So, you've come across Guardian and want to know if it's any good and whether arranging your life and critical illness insurance through Guardian is wise. In a nutshell, it probably is! I have 20 years of experience in the personal insurance industry and having researched and taken a fine-tooth comb through the Guardian offering, I'm quite impressed. In this article, I take you through the products offered by Guardian and explain how they have challenged the status quo in an effort to get ahead of the competition.

Additionally, I share tips on how to ensure you're making the best choices so that you tailor the product for you, your family and your budget. You will also learn how to get up to £100 cashback* when you arrange your insurance this way.

If you'd like to get straight to it you can go straight to the section, "How to arrange Guardian Life & Critical Illness Insurance".

About Guardian Financial Services

As a relatively new player in the personal insurance market, Guardian 1821 aspires to address 'Fairness' and 'Clarity' through its product design. With a flurry of awards for its products and innovation since it launched in 2018, Guardian has impressed both those in the industry and the customers it serves.

One of the potential drawbacks and something we should mention early in this review is that you can only gain access to its products through an adviser (and not directly through Guardian itself). Guardian has a strong belief that advisers are the best route to arranging your personal insurance and ensuring you are buying the best product for you and I can't disagree. We explain at the end of this article the best and cheapest way to buy life and critical illness insurance through Guardian, as well as how to get up to £100 cashback.

  • Guardian was first established in 1821 (hence the current name) as a provider of life and fire insurance before it expanded its insurance offerings and became Guardian Assurance.
  • Along the way there was a merger with Royal Assurance and it was purchased by AXA in 1999 with the life and pensions part of the business, later to be acquired by Aegon UK. Guardian was then acquired by Admin Re and closed its doors to new business in 2016.
  • In 2018, Gryphon Group Holdings revived the brand and named it Guardian 1821. As Guardian 1821 it has set out its stall to offer a simple and wholesome suite of insurances including life cover, critical illness cover and children's critical illness insurance.

Having only been around for only 6 years, Guardian lacks data on the history of claims and this is often where an insurer's quality and ability to live up to its promises can be judged best. However, this life insurance company has put its products forward for scrutiny through industry analysis and the results have been refreshing - read on to see why.

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Guardian Life Insurance

Life insurance pays out a tax-free lump sum or income in the event of death if it happens during the term of the insurance that you arrange. It is usually arranged to provide funds that can pay off debts such as mortgages, maintain a family's lifestyle or just provide some financial security.

Although it may seem like a fairly straightforward product, each life insurance company has their nuances and below I have highlighted the benefits and features of Guardian 1821's life insurance.

Guardian life insurance features and benefits

Guardian Life Insurance
  • Low-cost life cover option - Life Essentials is Guardian's basic life insurance option that reduces the cost of life insurance
  • Family Income Benefit - option to include a benefit that will pay an income instead of a lump sum
  • Waiver of premium - covers the cost of the insurance if you are incapacitated to work for a period of time at no extra cost.
  • Terminal Illness Benefit - will pay your death benefit early if a consultant confirms that you have less than 12 months to live or if you are diagnosed with a listed terminal illness at no extra cost.
  • Minimum and Maximum age - The minimum age is 18 to start your insurance and the maximum age is 90 at expiry.

Guardian terminal illness benefit explained

Guardian's Terminal Illness Benefit challenges the status quo by not only paying out if it is confirmed that death is likely to happen within 12 months but also if you are diagnosed with incurable Stage 4 Cancer, Motor Neurone Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) or Parkinson-Plus Syndromes. This is especially useful if a consultant can't or won't confirm the required maximum of 12 months of survival.

It is a recognition of the difficulty faced by customers whose survival period cannot be measured but are gravely and terminally ill.  Receiving an early death benefit in such a circumstance is crucial and Guardian deserves recognition for leading the way to a better claims experience for people in this position.

Guardian waiver of premium explained

Contrary to most other insurers, Guardian includes waiver of premium as standard when you take your insurance. Waiver of premium allows you to stop paying for your policy whilst continuing to be insured. Guardian also pushes the boat out on its waiver option. Whereas most insurance companies will only cover the cost of the insurance if you become incapacitated to work, Guardian will also cover the cost of the insurance for up to 6 months if you have a baby or if you are made redundant. Guardian's waiver of premium benefit ensures that you do not need to pay your premium if:

  • You become too ill to work
  • You're not working and become unable to carry out your daily living tasks
  • You are made involuntarily redundant from your job
  • You have a baby and take maternity/paternity leave for up to 6 months

Most insurers charge extra for waiver of premium to be added to insurance and many do not waive premiums after you have a baby. So, if the Guardian premium you have been quoted is a little bit more expensive (which isn't always the case) this could be one of the reasons why.

Cashback Offer

Up to £100 cashback on life insurance

Our partner LifeSearch will help you get the best and cheapest life insurance.

  • Search the market and all the leading insurers
  • Free advice with no obligation to purchase
  • Up to £100 cashback for new customers

Get Advice Now*

Guardian Life Essentials low-cost life cover explained

Guardian has launched a low-cost life insurance that may suit those who wish to minimise what they spend while securing life insurance of up to £300,000. By choosing this option you will forgo some of Guardian's enhanced life insurance terms. The Life Essentials option is more akin to term life insurance provided by the majority of insurers so it is by no means a poor value product.

The terminal illness benefit definition which we explain below will pay in line with a slightly stricter terminal illness definition that includes a need to provide that the illness is likely to lead to death within 12 months. Importantly, this does not affect a death claim, only if you wish to claim earlier in the case of a terminal illness. Moreover, the slightly tightened definition is still comparable to most other insurers' terminal illness definitions.

The waiver of premium option will payout after 26 weeks instead of Guardian's standard option which pays out after 4 weeks. Most term life insurance policies don't include this benefit at all so the benefit is still valuable.

The Lifestyle Promise that ensures you can request a premium reduction if you positively change your lifestyle is limited when you choose Life Essentials, to provide for those who give up smoking. The standard Guardian life insurance will allow you to request a reduction for weight loss, change of job, or if you give up a dangerous sport if these factors had initially meant that your premium was increased.

A suicide exclusion applies to the first year of cover with Life Essentials whereas it does not apply to Guardian's Life Protection option. Largely, you will find that most insurers will apply a suicide exclusion to the life insurance you buy.

Who should consider Guardian's Life Essentials policy?

If you don't wish to get all the extra features and benefits of choosing Guardian and cost is your concern then you should compare the cost of Guardian's Life Essentials cover against others in the market.

Guardian critical illness insurance

Critical illness insurance pays out a tax-free lump sum or monthly sum of money if you are diagnosed with one of the illnesses covered by your policy.

Arguably, this is one of the main areas where insurance companies differ from one another. The list of illnesses and associated definitions of the illnesses that you can claim against can be quite a confusing area to compare.

I have cited the number of illnesses that Guardian protects you against below, however, it is important to remember that you should compare the definitions for these illnesses and not just the number covered. Guardian 1821 has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and has been deemed by many industry professionals to use definitions that are clear, fair and easier to claim against.

Guardian critical illness insurance features and benefits

Guardian critical illness insurance
  • Core illnesses covered - 54 Core Full-Payment Illnesses including heart attack, stroke and multiple sclerosis.
  • Additional illness covered - An additional 22 less serious illnesses including lower grade cancers will pay up to 25% of your insurance up to £50,000 whilst continuing to protect you against the 54 main illnesses that provide a full payout.
  • Cover options - Level, Increasing & Decreasing lump sum insurance options
  • Family Income Benefit - option to include a benefit that will pay a tax-free income instead of a lump sum
  • Waiver of premium - covers the cost of the insurance if you are incapacitated to work for a period of time at no extra cost.
  • Terminal Illness Benefit will pay your death benefit early if a consultant confirms that you have less than 12 months to live at no extra cost.
  • Minimum and maximum age - The minimum age is 18 to start your insurance and the maximum age is 70 at expiry.
  • Combine cover - You can combine life insurance with your critical illness insurance so it pays out for whichever event happens first. Combination insurance is not available with a family income benefit policy which is available as either life insurance or critical illness insurance.

Guardian Children's Critical Illness Insurance

It's not something any parent wishes to consider but the financial impact a sick child can have on a family is hard to ignore and what may be surprising to some is that claims for children's critical illness feature amongst the top 5 claims.

Again, Guardian's children's critical illness insurance challenges the norm by offering a flexible, yet comprehensive product.

Guardian Children's critical illness insurance features and benefits

Guardian Children's Critical Illness Insurance
  • Flexible cover - You can select between £10,000 and £100,000 of insurance up to the level of your own insurance.
  • Comprehensive cover - The child is protected against the same conditions as the adult including the less serious ones that pay out 25% of the benefit. The children's insurance protects against an extra 7 illnesses including Cystic Fibrosis, Downs Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.
  • Comes as an additional benefit - You have to select it in addition to your adult life or critical illness insurance. This means that you only pay for it if you want it and it can be added or removed upon request at any time.
  • Funeral Benefit - The cover includes a £10,000 funeral benefit if a child dies between 24-week gestation and the age of 23.
  • Children covered - It protects your natural, step or adopted children as well as children you have parental responsibility for.
  • Ages covered - Children are protected from birth until the age of 23 making this one of the widest age ranges covered in the market.

Guardian Critical Illness Insurance key points

  1. Covers all malignant cancers 
  2. Offers a simple and easy-to-understand definition for each illness that is covered
  3. Asks for a consultant's verification of your diagnosis only and not endless evidence to meet a claim
  4. Offers a variety of additional support services under 'Halo' (read on for more about this service)
  5. Covers additional illness benefits for less serious illnesses that don't meet the full payout criteria

If you are diagnosed with a low-grade or early-stage cancer, you would likely want to know that your full critical illness insurance will continue to protect you, even if you have claimed 25% for your particular diagnosis. Having insurance that will continue after a claim for a less serious cancer can be invaluable especially when more insurance becomes difficult to arrange due to the diagnosis.

Guardian income protection insurance

A relatively new addition to the personal insurance that you can buy with Guardian, income protection insurance provides a replacement income if you become ill or injured and cannot do your own job. Like many other insurance providers, Guardian 1821 provides flexible income protection options that allow you to tailor the cover to your sick pay needs. However, much like the rest of Guardian's policy benefits, the income protection insurance aims to deliver insurance that is easy to understand and makes claiming clear and

Guardian income protection features and benefits

Guardian income protection feature How it works
Cover amount £2,500 to £250,000 benefit available per annum

Maximum cover of:

  • 65% of the first £60,000 of annual earnings
  • 50% of annual earnings between £60,000 up to £100,000
  • 45% of annual earnings over £100,000
Cover Term
  • Cover available for 5 to 52 years
  • Cover must cease by age 70
Benefit Term The benefit can be set to pay you for either:

  • 2 years or
  • Until you return to work or reach the end of the term of the policy, whichever happens first
Age eligibility You must be between 18 and 59 years old when you start the policy
Deferred period / Waiting times Benefits payable after:

  • 4, 8,13, 26 or 52 weeks
  • Premiums are guaranteed to remain the same for the term of the policy
  • Premiums are paid monthly
Waiver of premium
  • Included as standard
  • Covers your monthly premiums after 28 days of incapacity to work
Optional Children's critical illness protection
  • £10,000 and £100,000 of children's critical illness cover can be added to your standalone income protection insurance
  • The amount of cover is limited to the annual income benefit you have insured
Increasing option Cover amount and premium will increase by

Guardian income protection insurance key benefits

  • Income paid for up to 2 years or for the duration of your incapacity to work up to retirement age or the end of the policy term
  • The cover guarantees to cover a minimum of £1,500 per month benefit in case your earnings change in the future
  • Guardian's "own job" definition means that your income protection insurance will pay out if you are unable to do your own job while, not your occupation or another job that you are able to do
  • Optional children's critical illness cover can be added at an additional cost
  • Benefit can be set to be paid after 4, 8, 13, 26 or 52 weeks from the first day of incapacity to work

Guardian Dual life insurance benefit

One of the first things you might notice is that the policies only cover you either as a single person or as dual people if there are two of you who wish to be insured. If you would like to buy a policy including life insurance for a partner then you can do this but the dual life option will make this more comprehensive and increase your individual benefits without greatly increasing your costs. It is important to understand the distinction between 'Dual' and 'Joint' as they are not the same.

The difference between 'Joint' life insurance plans and 'Dual' life insurance plans

  • Joint life insurance - Both lives are insured under one plan but the payout is based on joint life first death. This means if there is a claim, the surviving spouse will lose their life insurance benefit
  • Dual person life insurance basis - Both lives are insured under one plan but with individual benefits, meaning if there is a claim, the surviving spouse will still have life insurance in place until the end of the policy term.

Unlike other insurance companies, Guardian does not offer joint life policies and instead, a dual cover option exists. Most people who want to arrange insurance with another person (usually a partner but it could be anyone that you need or want to be insured with), end up taking a joint life policy.

A 'Joint' life policy, in most cases, will pay out if one of the insured people suffers the event that they are insured for, eg. death. But, after this payout, there is no more insurance left for the surviving person and in a worst-case scenario, if both people were to die, there would still only be one payout. A 'Dual' policy will allow two people to arrange insurance together but maintain individual benefits so that if one person's benefit was claimed, the other person could continue their insurance and again, in a worst-case scenario, there would be two payouts instead of one.

You can of course take two single policies with most insurers in the market and some will even offer you a discount for taking your policies together. However, in making only 'Dual' policies available, Guardian prevents you from arranging a 'Joint' policy when what is best, in almost every scenario, is having individual policies. Guardian's efforts to offer what is best for the customer first and foremost is what impresses and makes it stand out from the crowd.

Having dual cover ensures that when two people arrange their insurance together, each person can claim separately and maintain their own insurance. The cost of a dual policy is similar to the cost of a joint policy, but when you consider that the potential payout is doubled, it makes good financial sense to choose dual cover.

Guardian dual life insurance vs cheapest joint policy price comparison

Based on 2 people aged 35 who are non-smokers Joint Policy - £200,000 over 15 years Dual Policy - £200,000 x 2 policies over 15 years
Legal & General £14.14 N/A
Guardian N/A £17.66

While Legal & General has the cheapest life insurance quote for a joint policy, it is important to understand that by paying just £3.52 more with Guardian, you are doubling your potential life insurance payout.

Why should I choose Guardian?

I'm quite the critic when it comes to what insurance companies should or could do to enhance their products. Despite not offering an Income Protection Insurance Product, which I would love to see Guardian develop, there is much to rave about.

Guardian deserves credit for trying to improve some conventional details within products for their customers. The small tweaks and improvements within the offering could make a valuable difference to a customer at what is clearly a very challenging time. Additional benefits include:

Guardian Mortgage Guarantee

If you take a decreasing term assurance policy that reduces alongside a repayment mortgage, you don't have to worry about how your interest rate fluctuates. If you need to claim then all that Guardian asks is that the amount of the insurance and the number of years that you took it over were correct when the policy started. Other insurance companies will apply an upper percentage to which they are happy for your interest rate to increase. This is usually sufficient but the peace of mind is greater with no upper limit to worry about.

Guardian Anytime GP and second medical opinion service

Policyholders are provided with access to a service called Guardian Anytime. The service gives you 24/7 access to a GP from your phone or tablet anywhere in the world. It also provides you with access to a service that gives second medical opinions via a specialist consultant if you become seriously ill. You'll be guided by a nurse before and after with help to understand results, treatment plans and other options available to you.

Guardian claims service - Halo

Halo is what Guardian calls its claims service. The service aims not to be encumbered by technical definitions for what you should expect. Instead, the claims handlers are trained to understand your personal circumstances and offer support in the ways that you specifically need. This could include help with the following:

  • A face-to-face second medical opinion
  • Specialist therapy for neurological conditions
  • Return-to-work support
  • Help around the house - shopping and cleaning
  • Speech therapy
  • Finding a solicitor to handle probate
  • Bereavement Counselling
  • Signposting to employer or state benefits
  • Nursing support following diagnosis and treatment
  • Estate planning following a terminal illness diagnosis
  • Counselling to help families cope with serious illness
  • Therapies to ease the consequences of treatments
  • Help to draw up a power of attorney
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Aches and pains support

How to arrange Guardian life & critical illness insurance

When it comes to deciding what products and insurance companies are best for you and your family, you should speak with a specialist adviser*.  It can seem quite straightforward to buy your insurance online and you might even feel that this is the way to get the cheapest price for what you need, however, there are considerations that are not addressed when you buy life insurance this way. By not taking advice, you take responsibility for whether your policy is right for you - the comparison sites won't do this.

Arranging your life and illness insurance is complex and there will be things that you may not have considered about what your personal circumstances require. Regulated specialist insurance brokers do not usually charge for the advice that they provide. They are trained to ask about the details that will matter and often tailor-make solutions for you. It is common for customers to receive advice that helps them balance their insurance with what they wish to pay. You will also receive invaluable advice about putting your policy in a trust so that if the worst did happen, the money would reach the right people quickly. Finally, an independent life insurance specialist will point out if Guardian isn't the right solution for you. Insurance companies vary in many unique ways such as how they view your health, your BMI, your family history of health and even what you do for a living. Some will be better for you than others and it's a tough job to do by yourself.

When looking for such a specialist, we vetted the services provided by a leading independent life insurance specialist*.  Its advisers are well-trained and have access to the whole market for life protection as well as some of the best rates around. To arrange a callback, simply complete this form*.

You'll even receive up to £100 cashback for arranging your insurance because you are a Money to the Masses reader.


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