Guardian Life Insurance, Core Operating Subsidiaries 'AA+' Ratings Affirmed On Criteria Review, Outlook Negative

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1 Research Update: Guardian Life Insurance, Core Operating Subsidiaries 'AA+' Ratings Affirmed On Criteria Review, Outlook Negative Primary Credit Analyst: Neal I Freedman, New York (1) ; Secondary Contact: Howard L Rosen, FSA, CERA, New York ; Table Of Contents Overview Rating Action Rationale Outlook Ratings Score Snapshot Related Criteria And Research Ratings List JUNE 20,

2 Research Update: Guardian Life Insurance, Core Operating Subsidiaries 'AA+' Ratings Affirmed On Criteria Overview Following a review under Standard & Poor's revised insurance criteria, we are affirming our 'AA+' counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America and its core operating companies, Guardian Life and Annuity Co. and Berkshire Life Insurance Co. of America (collectively Guardian). At the same time, we affirmed the 'AA-' subordinated debt rating on Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America. The ratings predominately reflect Guardian's excellent business risk profile as one of the top providers of individual life, individual disability, and group dental insurance, and its extremely strong financial risk profile based on its capital and earnings. The negative outlook reflects our concerns regarding the successful execution of management initiatives to improve profitable diversification and to manage expense efficiency. Rating Action As previously announced on June 10, 2013, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services affirmed its 'AA+' counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America and its core operating companies, Guardian Insurance & Annuity Co. and Berkshire Life Insurance Co. of America (collectively Guardian). The outlook is negative. At the same time, we affirmed our 'AA-' subordinated debt rating on Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America. Rationale The ratings reflect our view of Guardian's excellent business risk profile (BRP), based on the company's position as one of the top providers of individual life, individual disability, and group dental insurance, and its extremely strong financial risk profile (FRP) based on extremely strong capital and earnings. We derive a 'aa+' BRP/FRP anchor score. Guardian faces relatively low country risk and low industry risk, given that the vast majority of its operations are in the U.S. life insurance marketplace. Our view of low country risk for the U.S. reflects stable economic growth prospects, relatively effective and stable political JUNE 20,

3 institutions, sophisticated financial systems, and a strong payment culture. Our view of low industry risk in the U.S. life insurance market reflects the relative maturity of the sector, an adequate regulatory infrastructure, moderate product risk, and strong availability of fixed-income instruments to match life and annuity liabilities. While U.S. life insurers have significant opportunities because of an underpenetrated U.S. life insurance market and increased demand for investment and retirement products, we believe a stable but low-growth economy, low interest rates, and intense competition may limit the sector's near-term growth prospects and potential for higher operating margins. Guardian's competitive position is very strong, in our view. It is one of the top-four largest mutual insurance companies selling participating life insurance through a career agency system; we consider participating life insurance to be the highest quality, most stable, and creditworthy life insurance product. As a result, we enhanced our assessment of the company's BRP by one notch, to excellent, to account for the lower risk of Guardian's product portfolio relative to the overall U.S. life insurance industry. In addition, the company is among the top providers of individual disability and group dental insurance. Guardian targets sophisticated, wealthy customers; small business owners; and professionals, such as physicians. Evidence of this includes a premium per policy of more than double its peers' and an average policy face amount of more than 1.5 times its peers'. A highly productive general agency system also supports Guardian's competitive position. The company's agent retention rate is roughly double that of its peers; and remains significantly higher than the declining industry average. Guardian's management has recently begun an initiative to improve profitable diversification, as demonstrated by its December 2012 acquisition of the Reed Group, an absence and disability management services provider, and we expect non-insurance operations to constitute more than 10% of pretax operating income by year-end In addition, management has undertaken an initiative to manage expenses and we expect the company to eliminate more than $125 million of expenses over the next two years (2013 and 2014). Guardian reports extremely strong capital and earnings, which we anticipate will continue in our base case. The company's statutory capital has been redundant at the 'AAA' level for many years. We believe that Guardian's earnings prospects should allow the company to operate at an extremely strong capital position. We assume a consolidated pretax statutory operating profit of at least $300 million for , translating into net income of more than $200 million, compared with an average of $234 million over the past three years. In our view, Guardian's risk position reflects intermediate risk. The company invests less in equities and real estate than its large mutual insurance company peers and has hedged its public equity and other mark to market assets in the portfolio to protect a high minimum capital ratio. More than 90% of Guardian's bond portfolio, which constitutes about 75% of invested assets, is rated investment grade. The quality of the bonds remains heavily weighted toward 'BBB' rated securities (about 45%); however, the company takes the JUNE 20,

4 additional caution of keeping this segment of the portfolio appropriately diversified to mitigate risk. Guardian has adequate financial flexibility, in our view. Although the company's status as a mutual insurance company limits capital market access, it has internal capacity through its excess capital and potential external access through surplus notes and other instruments. In addition, Guardian can leverage its liabilities by reinsuring its large, stable life insurance business to raise capital. We view Guardian's enterprise risk management (ERM) and management and governance practices as neutral to the ratings. Our assessment of ERM as adequate with strong risk controls reflects our view of the company's risk culture and most of its risk controls as well as our belief that the company is unlikely to experience losses outside of its well-defined risk tolerances. Guardian uses a variety of risk models to manage its risk, including both proprietary and third-party platforms. The company demonstrated its strong operational risk management in the fourth quarter of 2012, when it was able to quickly and efficiently resume operations following Hurricane Sandy. Guardian's management and governance practices are satisfactory, in our opinion. The company's management team is well seasoned and highly knowledgeable about the life insurance industry. Guardian's sophisticated modeling capabilities allow it to create a highly detailed strategic plan and the company has a track record of meeting or exceeding our expectations. We regard Guardian's liquidity as exceptional, given the strength of available liquidity resources, mostly premium income and liquid assets of $25 billion to $30 billion. The company's only debt is a $400 million surplus note and we believe Guardian is capable of managing unexpectedly large claims or an increase in life insurance policy lapses. Outlook The negative outlook reflects our views regarding the successful execution of management initiatives to improve profitable diversification and to manage expenses efficiently. We expect Guardian's non-insurance operations to constitute more than 10% of pretax operating earnings and that the company will eliminate more than $125 million of expenses over the next two years (2013 and 2014). Should the company not meet our expectations, we would likely lower the ratings by one notch. Should the company meet our expectations, we would likely revise the outlook to stable. Ratings Score Snapshot Counterparty Credit Rating AA+/Negative JUNE 20,

5 Financial Strength Rating BRP/FRP Anchor Business Risk Profile IICRA Competitive Position Financial Risk Profile Capital and Earnings Risk Position Financial Flexibility AA+/Negative aa+ Excellent Low Risk Very Strong Extremely Strong Extremely Strong Intermediate Risk Adequate Modifiers 0 ERM and Management 0 Enterprise Risk Management Adequate With Strong Risk Controls Management and Governance Satisfactory Comparative Analysis 0 Liquidity Exceptional Support 0 Group Support 0 Government Support 0 Related Criteria And Research Insurers: Rating Methodology, May 7, 2013 Group Rating Methodology, May 7, 2013 Enterprise Risk Management, May 7, 2013 Methodology For Linking Short-Term And Long-Term Ratings For Corporate, Insurance, And Sovereign Issuers, May 7, 2013 Methodology: Management And Governance Credit Factors For Corporate Entities And Insurers, Nov. 13, 2012 Principles Of Credit Ratings, Feb. 16, 2011 Refined Methodology And Assumptions For Analyzing Insurer Capital Adequacy Using The Risk-Based Insurance Capital Model, June 7, 2010 Hybrid Capital Handbook: September 2008 Edition, Sept. 15, 2008 Ratings List Ratings Affirmed Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America Guardian Insurance & Annuity Co. (The) Berkshire Life Insurance Co. of America Counterparty Credit Rating Financial Strength Rating AA+/Negative/-- AA+/Negative/-- Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America JUNE 20,

6 Subordinated debt AA- Complete ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect at and at All ratings affected by this rating action can be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site at Use the Ratings search box located in the left column. JUNE 20,

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