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Guardian vision insurance review Apr 2021

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Get a generous allowance to put towards contact lenses or frames with this plan.

  • Explore this policy if you wear glasses or contacts that tend to be pricey.
  • Choose something else if you can’t afford the $80 copay for an exam and prescription.

What does Guardian vision insurance cover?

Guardian’s vision insurance is a Vision Service Plan (VSP), and it’s designed to help you save on preventative eye care and exams.

Your coverage, premium and out-of-pocket costs come down to the plan you choose, as well as your location. To give you an idea, this table reflects the coverage for someone aged 21 to 49 living in New York and is valid as of March 15, 2021.

Gold PlanSilver Plan
Annual exam$15 copay$15 copay
Contact lens exam15% discount15% discount
Routine retinal screeningUp to $39 copayUp to $39 copay
Contact lenses and frames $225 to spend per year on either contacts or frames$160 to spend per year on either contacts or frames
Prescription glasses$25 copay$25 copay
Laser vision correction15% discount on regular price or 5% off promotional price at participating VSP providers15% discount on regular price or 5% off promotional price at participating VSP providers

Does Guardian’s vision insurance have a deductible or waiting period?

No. You won’t need to meet a deductible or pass a waiting period before you start receiving benefits. If you don’t know your plan’s effective date, log in to your member portal to check.

How much does Guardian vision insurance cost?

It depends on your plan and whether your employer is subsidizing part of your premium. But a person 21 to 49 years old living in New York can expect to pay $20.59 a month for a Gold plan and $12.98 for a Silver plan, according to Guardian’s quoting tool.

You can opt to pay your premium monthly, quarterly or annually. Guardian accepts credit and debit cards, bank transfers, checks and money orders.

How to get Guardian vision insurance

You can purchase a plan directly through Guardian at any time. Or, if your employer offers Guardian vision insurance as part of your benefits package, you can enroll during your company’s open enrollment period. With most employers, this falls sometime between October and December.

How to find an in-network eye doctor

You’ll almost always pay less if you visit an in-network eye doctor, and they must accept new VSP patients. To find one, head to VSP’s site and search by ZIP code.

Can I see an out-of-network eye doctor?

In most states, yes — but you’ll need to pay out of pocket and submit a claim on your own.

Under Guardian’s vision insurance plan, out-of-network coverage isn’t available in Massachusetts or Washington, and it varies in Maryland. If you live in Maryland, reach out to Guardian or VSP before booking an appointment to see what’s covered.

How to nominate your eye doctor

If your eye doctor is out-of-network, you can nominate them to join VSP’s network by filling out a form on the site. However, it’s not a guarantee — VSP gives your eye doctor 12 weeks to decide if they want to become a member, and they might say no.

Pros and cons of Guardian vision insurance

Pros

  • Extensive network. Since Guardian offers a VSP plan, you’ll have access to the largest pool of in-network eye doctors in the country.
  • Generous allowances. Guardian has relatively high allowances to spend on contact lenses and frames. Most vision insurance only covers up to $100, which won’t cover anything but the cheapest, most basic frames.
  • Diverse retail partners. You can use your benefits at stores like Cohen’s Fashion Optical, Costco, Nationwide Vision, Sam’s Club, TargetOptical and Visionworks.
  • Solid reputation. Both Guardian and VSP have a long history in the industry and the ability to pay out claims.

Cons

  • Choose between glasses or contacts. The plan covers one or the other in a 12-month period. This is typical of most vision plans though.
  • Slow reimbursement. Some customers say the company is slow to pay out-of-network claims.
  • Separate from Medicaid. Like all VSP plans, Guardian’s benefits can’t be combined with Medicaid credits.

Guardian customer reviews and reputation

Guardian has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1957 and has an A+ rating for its customer interaction as of March 15, 2021. The BBB has recorded 93 complaints over the past three years, though most were to do with life insurance.

Since you’d primarily deal with VSP, let’s look at their ratings. The company isn’t BBB-accredited, but it has an A+ rating. Customers filed 48 complaints in the past three years, with many complaining about the lengthy claims process.

Compare Guardian vision plans

Name Product Eye exam coverage Glasses coverage Waiting period
Guardian vision insurance
Yes
Yes
None
Access the largest eye doctor network nationwide, and get discounts on lens enhancements and featured frames. Plans from $13/month.
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How do I file a claim with Guardian?

If you visit an in-network eye doctor, you don’t need to file a claim. But if you choose to see an out-of-network provider, follow these steps.

  1. Create an account on VSP.com using the member ID number on your vision insurance card.
  2. Fill out the claims form, including the date and reason for your visit.
  3. Upload itemized receipts.
  4. Submit the claim. You can expect a response within 10 business days.

Frequently asked questions about Guardian vision insurance

Expert review

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Review by


Katia Iervasi is a staff writer who hails from Australia and now calls New York home. Her writing and analysis has been featured on sites like Forbes, Best Company and Financial Advisor around the world. Armed with a BA in Communication and a journalistic eye for detail, she navigates insurance and finance topics for Finder, so you can splash your cash smartly (and be a pro when the subject pops up at dinner parties).

Expert review

Guardian’s vision insurance plan has many perks, including discounts on laser vision correction and a generous stipend to put towards contact lenses and frames. Since the plan is a VSP, patients can tap into the largest network in the US — and choose from over 40,000 doctors that accept their insurance.

The premiums tend to be on the cheaper side, but Guardian only pays for glasses or contacts over the course of a year — not both. And if you’re on Medicaid, you won’t be able to use your credits to cover any out-of-pocket vision expenses.

If you’re looking for an individual policy, compare vision insurance companies.

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