Why Guardian has missed an opportunity to be an insurance challenger

Guardian, formerly known as Gryphon Group Holdings – was framed as the new challenger to the protection market.

Guardian has delivered a series of small initiatives which are a step forward. However, they are insufficient to disrupt, according to GlobalData Financial Services. 

The life and protection insurance industry has long been waiting for disruption. In 2016, the announcement of a new insurance start-up called Gryphon Group Holdings was announced. The industry seemed set for transformation.

Gryphon was labeled to be an exciting, entrepreneurial new challenger to the market with principals based on generating trust and improving the advisor experience, in addition to using insurtech and technology to take a fresh approach designed around customer and advisor needs.

Following a further announcement in December 2017 that Gryphon had acquired the trading rights for 158-year old Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, news on its business model was quiet.

But in May 2018, under the new brand name, Guardian has finally started releasing details of its proposition.

The new insurer will focus on life, critical illness cover, and income protection.

The first way it seeks to differentiate is to provide simplified definitions and the removal of exclusions for critical illness and terminal illness cover.

It is moving away from the need for medical evidence to approve a critical illness claim.

For strokes, heart attacks, and multiple sclerosis, confirmation of symptoms from a consultant is enough to trigger a pay-out.

This will improve the speed of payments, and improve consumer trust in claims being paid. Guardian will also pay out on all malignant skin cancers without exclusion.

Similarly, terminal illness within life cover will pay out if the customer is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, motor neurone disease, Parkinson-plus syndromes, and CJD, even if they are expected to survive more than 12 months.

Traditionally it is only paid if doctors believe the policy holder will not live more than a year.

Guardian’s products will only be sold through the adviser channel and so it has also launched a Protection Builder adviser platform.

Cover is written on an individual basis but multiple lives can be combined into one policy, allowing customers to benefit from multi-life and multi-cover discounts.

While these moves are a step forward, they will not disrupt the market. It is not as dramatic a transformation that is needed by the industry.

Customers expect to be paid claims for illness, and allowing advisers to sell through a single customer journey is standard in other areas of the industry.

While these moves will be news to the protection insurance industry, they are unlikely to be significant enough to make customers choose Guardian over another traditional provider.

It is also questionable why a new provider had to be set up to implement these initiatives.

It brings home the fact that insurers are still looking for solutions inside the industry.