National Guardian Life Long-Term Care Insurance Review is compensated when you click on the provider links listed on this page. This compensation does not impact our ratings or reviews. Read our Editorial Guidelines here to learn more about our review process and to learn more about how we are compensated. Rating:
4 of 5
Questions? Speak with a National Guardian Specialist:
110+ years in business
In 49 states + D.C.
4 flexible payment options
6 benefit period options is compensated when you click on the provider links listed on this page. This compensation does not impact our ratings or reviews. Read our Editorial Guidelines here to learn more about our review process and to learn more about how we are compensated. Rating:
4 of 5
Questions? Speak with a National Guardian Specialist:
Jeff Hoyt
Jeff Hoyt, Editor in Chief Sarah Goldy-Brown, Writer & Researcher

National Guardian Life Insurance Company (NGL) entered the long-term care (LTC) insurance market to give adults a chance to anticipate and better manage long-term care expenses. After all, they can get expensive! Long-term care has a median cost of $4,500 to $9,034 per month in the U.S.1 NGL’s EssentialLTC product helps cover the expenses of in-home and out-of-home care that are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or other benefit programs.

Below, we’ll take a look at what National Guardian Life Insurance Company’s long-term care plan offers, including some pros and cons, the cost, and your options.

Did You Know?

Did You Know? Long-term care is more than just nursing home stays. Read our guide to long-term care for seniors to learn more.


  • Inflation protection
  • Lifetime benefits
  • Flexible premium payment options
  • Competitive rates
  • Discounts for joint policyholders
  • No tax on long-term care distributions (1035 exchange2)


  • Limited pricing transparency
  • Underwriting factors in family history
  • Not available in New York

National Guardian Life Insurance LTC Plan Options

NGL’s long-term care product is called EssentialLTC. You choose how comprehensive the policy is based on your needs.

You must decide if you want:

  • Comprehensive Care (facility care services and home and community care services) or
  • Facility Care Services Only

Comprehensive Care covers care and services inside and outside of your home; for example, adult day care, nursing home care, assisted living, hospice care, and hiring a home health aide. Facility Care Services Only is just what you think. It covers only the care that you receive in a facility, such as a nursing home.

The Facility Care Services Only policy is available in most states that National Guardian Life serves. To see what’s available in your state, view the product brochure by state or the policy variations by state on the NGL website.

Both plan types pay out benefits when the policyholder is deemed chronically ill by a licensed healthcare practitioner. Then, you’re eligible for reimbursement of up to the Daily Benefit Amount that you choose for all covered services. However, you can’t double dip. So, if Medicare covers your nursing home stay, your long-term care insurance policy pays a reduced amount.

The issue age for this plan is 40 to 79. Other companies, such as Mutual of Omaha and Thrivent, offer more flexible issue ages. For example, Mutual of Omaha starts at 30.

EssentialLTC Built-in Benefits

All base policies include:

  • International benefits: Receive up to the Daily Benefit Amount for actual daily charges incurred for covered services outside of the U.S., U.S. territories, or Canada for up to 30 days each calendar year.
  • Caregiver training benefits: Policies that cover Home and Community Based Services will pay for caregiver training if it’s required as part of your Plan of Care.
  • Care coordination benefits: Policyholders can request a care coordinator to plan and coordinate needed care and services as well as provide ongoing support.
  • Waiver of Premium rider: This rider is automatically attached to policies with comprehensive coverage. It waives premiums for Home and Community Care Services while you’re actively receiving benefits for Facility Care Services or Home and Community Care Services. The base policy already includes the waiver of premium for Facility Care Services.
  • Respite care benefits: Receive a maximum of 30 days of benefits for respite care services each year.
  • Facility bed reservation benefits: Reserve your spot in a nursing facility or assisted living facility for up to 30 days each calendar year.
  • Emergency response system benefits: Receive reimbursement of up to $50 per month for installing an emergency response system while you’re receiving Home and Community Care Services.

FYI: Want to learn more about emergency response systems? Take a look at our top recommendation for medical alert systems in 2023.

EssentialLTC Basic Benefit Choices

The following benefits are also included in your policy, but you must choose exactly what you want.

  • Daily Benefit Amount: This is the maximum amount that the policy will reimburse you for per day of care. Choose between $50 and $300, in $10 increments
  • Elimination Period: This is the amount of time that you’ll pay for long-term care services out-of-pocket before National Guardian Life reimburses you. Choose between 30, 90, or 180 days.
  • Benefit Period: This is the amount of time that your policy provides benefits. Choose between a two-year and three-year benefit period initially. Purchase additional coverage with a benefit period extension rider.

Available Riders

If you choose EssentialLTC, you can add a number of different riders to your policy. This feature really sets EssentialLTC apart! Let’s take a look at what’s available:3

  • Benefit Period Extension Rider: Extend the normal three-year benefit period to a four-year, five-year, six-year, or lifetime benefit period.
  • Shared Benefit Amount Rider: This calls for a third pool of funds that a joint couple can pull from if either or both individuals use up their entire Benefit Amount.
  • Inflation Protection Rider: To protect against inflation, you can choose a 3 or 5 percent compound. This is the amount that the Daily Benefit Amount or Benefit Amount will increase on each policy anniversary.
  • Limited Return of Premium Rider: If the policyholder dies during the policy period, the beneficiary will receive the total of premiums paid minus benefits received.
  • Limited Return of Premium with Optional Policy Surrender Rider: This gives you the ability to surrender the policy for a lump-sum payment between 20 and 80 percent, depending on how long you’ve had the policy and whether you’ve received benefit payments under the policy.
  • First Day Home and Community Care Services Benefit Rider: This waives the Elimination Period for Home and Community Care Services, giving you access to benefits on the first day that you’re qualified to receive benefits.
  • Shortened Benefit Period Nonforfeiture Rider: Your coverage continues even if the policy lapses due to nonpayment of the premium

FYI: An insurance rider increases or decreases your policy’s coverage. It lets you customize the policy to best meet your needs.

National Guardian Life Long-Term Care Insurance Cost

Unlike other providers we’ve reviewed, such as Mutual of Omaha, National Guardian Life doesn’t offer transparent pricing. There isn’t an online cost estimator tool or example quotes available online. Instead, you’ll need to contact the customer service team or work with an independent agent or broker.

That being said, National Guardian Life does have a reputation for offering competitive pricing. Specific riders and benefits you choose, your medical history, your age, and other factors all affect the cost of your LTC policy. For example, a non-smoker typically pays less for long-term care insurance than a smoker.

Plus, you should keep in mind that the Essential LTC product is a stand-alone long-term care insurance policy. It’s not a hybrid policy with a death benefit, such as a bundled long-term care and life insurance policy. That means if you never need long-term care, you lose out on all of the premiums you paid. There won’t be a refund or a death benefit sent to your beneficiary unless you add a rider that adds those benefits.

Helpful Hint:

Helpful Hint: Considering a life insurance plan or hybrid policy? Check out our list of the best life insurance for seniors in 2023 and our guide to the best hybrid long-term care insurance.

Paying for EssentialLTC

To help make your plan more affordable, National Guardian Life offers several flexible payment options:

  • Lifetime Premium: Pay premiums throughout your lifetime.
  • 10-Year Premium: Pay all premiums over a 10-year period, with no premium increases.
  • Single Premium: Pay for the entire policy all at once, making it noncancelable and not subject to any rate increases.
  • 1035 Exchange: Use a non-qualified tax deferred annuity or life insurance policy to pay for your long-term care insurance policy.

If you sign up for a policy with a spouse or sibling who resides in the same house, you might be eligible for a joint discount.4 Under the joint pricing structure, the premium that covers both of you would be similar to what one person would pay individually. This makes National Guardian Life an enticing choice for couples!


FYI: Entering your later years with a partner? Take some time to learn about different senior living options for couples. Even if you have different care needs, you can still age together!


National Guardian Life undergoes a thorough underwriting process. Underwriters evaluate your functionality, cognitive ability, and medical history. They’re assessing how risky it is to take you on as an insured client. If you’re currently facing health issues or struggle with activities like climbing stairs or grocery shopping, you could find yourself paying a higher premium.

The whole process takes an average of 35 days and includes the following key steps:

  • Medical records: These are requested within 48 hours of receiving your application.
  • Personal health interviews: These are conducted over the phone to discuss your medical record and your ability to live independently; they are requested for all applicants age 65 and younger.
  • Long-term care exams: Face-to-face exams are required for applicants age 66 and older and may be required for younger applicants at the underwriter’s discretion.
  • Paramedical exams: Blood tests and urinalysis are not commonly required, but they might be required if your medical history indicates issues with blood pressure control or another medical condition that warrants lab work.
  • Prescription drug history: An online database is accessed to verify your prescription drug use; this also gives NGL access to the names of other medical providers who may have additional medical records.
  • Previously declined cases: If you’ve been declined for an LTC policy, it’s unlikely that NGL will approve you for one; you must submit copies of any declination letters you have.

Specific factors that NGL underwriters look at are:

  • Prescriptions that indicate you currently have an uninsurable condition
  • Medical records indicating clearly or probably uninsurable conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or Addison’s disease
  • Your height and weight
  • Signs that you struggle with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing
  • Signs that you struggle with instrumental activities of daily living, such as laundry, shopping, meal prep, and managing personal finances

The majority of individuals who qualify as insurable are part of the Premier rate class. NGL estimates that 90 percent of applicants qualify for this rate class, which would be the lowest premiums available. The other 10 percent of qualifying applicants might receive coverage with an increased premium.

National Guardian Life Customer Satisfaction

Companies put their best foot forward on their own website, so it’s always a great idea to see what third parties have to say. National Guardian Life ranks well on sites like A.M. Best, NAIC, and the Better Business Bureau, indicating that it’s able to meet its financial obligations, like paying out your benefits. Below, we’ll compare National Guardian Life’s ratings to those of other popular LTC carriers.

National Guardian Life Mutual of Omaha Thrivent Northwestern Mutual
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating A (Excellent) A+ (Superior) A++(Superior)5 A++ (Superior)6
Better Business Bureau (BBB) A+ A+ A+ A-
NAIC Complaint Index Report 0 0.21 0.08 0.03

Although the company ranks well with its financial capabilities, its customer service may not be as consistent. Customer reviews of National Guardian Life indicate some issues with communication and timely responses.

Final Thoughts

NGL offers a customizable LTC policy that’s especially cost-effective for couples. It’s no wonder it made our list of best LTC policies in 2023! With EssentialLTC, you have control over the benefit period, the daily benefit amount, the elimination period, and riders. Making these choices might be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with insurance jargon and policies, but the freedom of choice can ultimately help ensure that you get and pay for what you need. And, since NGL works with a network of independent agents and brokers, you can speak with an expert to help you create a policy that fits your budget and needs. Overall, it’s a solid choice for older adults who are looking to prepare for their care needs later in life.


When reviewing National Guardian Life Insurance Company’s EssentialLTC product, we looked at the built-in and optional features, as well as the numerous riders. We also considered the underwriting process, discounts, availability, cost transparency, and ease of application. Together, our findings informed the star rating out of five and helped us determine how well EssentialLTC can meet the needs of older adults.

Frequently Asked Questions About National Guardian Life

Reviewed By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

As Editor-in-Chief of the personal finance site, Jeff produced hundreds of articles on the subject of retirement, including preventing identity theft, minimizing taxes, investing successfully, preparing for retirement medical costs, protecting your credit score, and making your money last… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt
Written By

Sarah Goldy-Brown

Writer & Researcher

Sarah covers a range of senior lifestyle topics, from reviews of walk-in tubs and hearing aids to overviews of Medicare and Medicaid. Her close relationship with her grandparents gave her a firsthand look at the evolving life needs of older… Learn More About Sarah Goldy-Brown