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As one of the oldest life insurers in the world, Equitable has a long track record of offering life insurance and reliably paying death benefits. It has an excellent financial profile, and fewer-than-expected number of customer complaints for a company its size. Plus, the company offers no-medical-exam policies.
However, the company does not provide whole life and other popular individual life insurance. Nor does it provide an online quote tool to compare prices, a feature that is becoming an industry standard.
Top Rated For
- Pros and Cons
- Company Overview
Can pay premiums with Apple Pay
Lower than expected number of customer complaints
Limited types of policies available
Online quotes not offered
Back in 1859, New York businessman Henry B. Hyde founded the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States as a mutual firm. Over the last 160 years, the company’s name and ownership structure have changed, but it remains one of the leading providers of variable and indexed universal life in the United States.Headquartered in New York, Equitable is licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, not all products are available in every location.
Equitable has many positive attributes, but it did not make our list of best life insurance companies.
- No-medical-exam coverage: Healthy applicants can apply for life insurance without having to undergo a medical exam.
- Can pay premiums with Apple Pay: If you’re looking for a policy that allows you to pay premiums with your digital wallet, Equitable is your answer. It accepts Apple Pay for some products.
- Lower than expected number of customer complaints: Equitable’s customers filed fewer than the expected complaints against the company.
- Limited types of policies available: Equitable doesn’t offer many types of insurance products compared to other life insurance companies. For example, you can’t purchase whole life or regular universal life policies.
- Online quotes not offered: It’s essential to compare quotes when shopping for life insurance. But equitable doesn’t provide online quotes. Instead, you need to call and speak with a representative.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Equitable received fewer than expected complaints in 2021. The NAIC calculates a complaint index for each insurance company that indicates how many complaints the insurer received relative to its size. Companies with more complaints than expected have an index above 1.00 and companies with fewer complaints than expected have an index below 1.00.
Over three years, Equitable has an average complaint index of 0.156, which means there weren’t as many customer complaints as one would expect for a company of its size.
Equitable’s financial stability is deemed to be excellent, according to insurance rating agency AM Best, which has assigned the insurer an A (Excellent) rating for financial strength. This means that, after assessing the company’s financial position, the agency believes Equitable has the financial resources necessary to meet its obligations to policyholders, such as paying claims.
An A rating from AM Best represents the third highest on a rating scale ranging from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor). Companies that fall on the lower end of the scale are more financially vulnerable and less likely to pay death benefit claims in difficult economic conditions.
Although Equitable gets high marks for its financial strength, customers’ experiences with the company, as judged by another independent organization, doesn’t quite hit the mark. In the 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, J.D. Power ranks Equitable 17 out of 21 large insurers for overall customer satisfaction. The company scored 749 points out of 1,000 possible points, falling below the industry average score of 776, and J.D. Power did not even rank the company in its 2022 study.
Equitable doesn’t offer as many policy types as some of the other insurers we researched. Here’s a quick look at the policies it sells.
Term Life Insurance
Equitable offers term life insurance. This product provides a guaranteed death benefit if the policyholder dies within the specified term. Equitable offers a maximum term of 20 years, which isn’t as high as the 30-year term offered by many other companies. Unlike permanent insurance, term coverage doesn’t have a savings component. You pay for the monthly premium, but there’s no cash value. If you decide you’d prefer a different type of policy, Equitable offers a no-cost conversion on some products that allow you to turn your term coverage into a plan that’s permanent.
Variable Life Insurance
With variable universal life insurance, your death benefit and cash value are based on the performance of an underlying investment portfolio. It requires you to make investment choices and manage your policy to a greater extent than other types of life insurance. This type of policy is considered the riskiest form of permanent life insurance, but it also has the potential for greater rewards.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance
Indexed universal life insurance offers the potential for cash value growth based on the performance of an index, such as the S&P 500 index. However, your account won’t lose money if the index falls since it’s not directly invested in the stock market. These policies offer more stability than variable universal life since your cash value is only pegged to a specific index rather than being directly invested in the stock market.
A rider is an add-on to your life insurance policy that provides additional coverage or benefits. These endorsements help you to customize your coverage to meet your exact needs.
Guaranteed Insurability Rider
This rider allows you to purchase additional life insurance coverage in the future without having to go through the underwriting process. You can usually increase your coverage upon certain triggering events, such as getting married or having a child, or upon certain policy anniversaries. Guaranteed insurability can be valuable if your health changes after you purchase your policy.
Equitable offers a rider that provides term coverage for your children. If a covered child passes away before reaching a certain age, the rider pays out a death benefit. Coverage is usually convertible to a permanent policy once the child reaches adulthood.
Waiver of Premium Rider
This rider protects you in the event you become disabled and unable to pay your premiums. It waives your payments if you meet specific qualifications, such as being confined to a nursing home for at least six months or being unable to perform two of the six activities of daily living.
No Lapse Guarantee Rider
If you choose this rider, Equitable guarantees that your policy won't get terminated for a stated period as long as you’ve paid the premium required to maintain the no lapse guarantee.
Accelerated Death Benefit: Terminal Illness Rider
If you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, this rider allows you to access part of your death benefit before you die. You can use the funds however you’d like, so you’re not limited to paying for your care. Equitable includes this accelerated death benefit for no additional cost with many policies.
Accelerated Death Benefit: Long-term Care Services Rider
This rider is similar to the one for terminal illness, except it is specifically for long-term care expenses. If you have a chronic condition and need to pay for long-term care, this rider pays out a portion of your death benefit to help cover the costs.
You can reach Equitable's customer service at (800) 777-6510 between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET Friday. There’s no live chat available or email address listed on their website's contact page.
You can also mail correspondence to Equitable at P.O. Box 1047, Charlotte, NC 28201-1047.
Our Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers
We designed a comprehensive ranking methodology based on consumer priorities and life insurance company fundamentals to rank more than 90 insurers across five general categories: financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, the overall buying experience, and cost.
In order to do this, we collected over 5,000 data points and scored each company based on 55 metrics. We grouped metrics by category to see how insurers performed in each; we then weighted category scores to determine how companies performed overall.
To learn more, read our full Life Insurance Methodology.