Equitable Life Insurance Review

Professional management for a variety of term and permanent life policies

We publish unbiased product reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payment we receive from our advertising partners. Learn more about how we review products and read our advertiser disclosure for how we make money.

Equitable

Equitable

Our Take

With thousands of financial advisors nationwide, Equitable makes it easy to customize and manage your life insurance policy. Its annual renewal term policy is a flexible option allowing you to get the coverage you need in timeframes you want.

While Equitable offers many options for your policy, purchasing and managing your policy can be a little slower than you might expect. 

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Option for annual renewable term (ART)

  • Professional oversight

  • Flexibility in coverage

Cons
  • No online quotes

  • Limited customer service

  • Slow claims process

Key Takeaways
  • Equitable does not offer whole life insurance, but you can choose from term, universal, survivorship, and long-term care for life insurance, plus seven riders.
  • There are no online quotes at Equitable, but financial advisors and customer support agents will help manage and maintain your policy.
  • Agent-based customer service is limited mainly to business hours, but there is a 24/7 automated line for basic inquiries.
Company Overview

Equitable was founded in 1859 as the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. Until 2020, Equitable was known as AXA Equitable but then rebranded to Equitable, as it remains today. It is based in New York under the brand name Equitable Holdings, Inc. It sells life insurance under Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company, commonly known as Equitable Financial; Equitable Distributors, LLC; and Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company of America, also known as Equitable America, which services Arizona and is based in Jersey City, New Jersey. 

Equitable is one of the biggest life insurance companies in the U.S., with more than $209 billion in assets under management. It boasts a network of more than 12,400 advisors and staff who collectively manage over 2.8 million clients. 

Geographical Restrictions

Equitable services most areas, but not all of its products are available everywhere. Certain limitations apply to specific insurance products and riders based on your state, so be sure to ask your financial advisor about availability. To find an advisor near you, Equitable offers a convenient search tool.

  • Year Founded 1859
  • Kinds of Plans Term, Indexed Universal Life, Variable Universal Life, Survivorship, Long-Term Care
  • Number of Plans 5
  • Payment Plan Options Online, mail
  • Customer Service (800) 777-6510 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Official Website www.equitable.com

Equitable Life is not one of our top-rated life insurance companies. You can review our list of the best life insurance companies for what we think are better options.

Pros Explained

  • Optional annual renewable term (ART): When you opt for term life coverage, Equitable gives you the option of an annual renewable term policy so you can renew each year up to a set number of years. 
  • Professional oversight: One of Equitable’s biggest advantages is its professional support, provided by licensed financial advisors
  • Flexibility in coverage: In addition to term insurance, there are several options for permanent life insurance with optional long-term care and a large selection of riders.

Cons Explained

  • No online quotes: Equitable lacks the online quoting tool to receive an estimate online. If you want to receive a quote, you will need to work with an Equitable financial advisor directly.
  • Limited customer service: There is a chat option to help with claims, but the majority of customer service is limited to phone support during business hours. You may also contact your agent directly or submit an inquiry via the New York mailing address. 
  • Slow claims process: To file a claim, you will need to mail your completed forms to Equitable. There is no option to complete the process online or via phone. 

Available Plans

Equitable offers a series of plans with term and permanent life insurance coverage. 

There is no whole life insurance available, but there are term, universal, survivorship, and long-term care policies available.

Term Life

With Equitable, a term life policy is available with terms of either one, 10, 15, or 20 years. Policy amounts vary and can be supplied by your agent. There is also the choice of level premiums, which stay the same, or annual renewable term insurance, which lets you renew as needed each year but at an increased premium. You can also choose a non-renewable term life policy that is available for just a single year, but it can later be converted to permanent life insurance, similar to the rest of Equitable’s policies.

Indexed Universal Life

With Indexed Universal Life (IUL), you can earn a monthly fixed interest rate, plus have the opportunity for tax-deferred growth. There is much flexibility in how much and when you pay your premiums. Policies have a minimum face value of $50,000 with a policy of up to $1 million with the Charitable Legacy Rider. Meanwhile, your policy can build cash value through major indexes like the S&P 500 Index. With Equitable’s BrightLife Grow plan, you have your choice of four indexed options and its Guaranteed Interest Account, which varies but has a guaranteed minimum interest rate of 2% annually. 

As your policy accumulates cash value, you have access to your balance through tax-free loans and withdrawals as needed. Plus, there are two death benefit options available.

Variable Universal Life

Variable Universal Life (VUL) allows you to invest in the market, so your policy has the potential to build cash value. However, there is the ever-present risk that comes with investment, even with a guaranteed minimum death benefit. There is a $100,000 minimum face amount with up to $1 million with the Charitable Legacy Rider. Equitable offers two plans, the VUL Optimizer and the VUL Legacy. A Market Stabilizer Option is available with a growth cap rate and protection against declines of up to -25%.

  • VUL Optimizer is a type of customized policy that allows for professionally managed investment portfolios. You can work directly with your financial advisor to determine the best path to accumulate cash value. There is also a life insurance benefit, but fees and penalties will apply.
  • VUL Legacy offers permanent life insurance in a cost-effective package with an included lifetime death benefit and cash surrender value. There is the opportunity for potential cash growth, but it is handled in a market-conscious way designed to provide better protection against losses.

VUL Survivorship

VUL Survivorship offers a more affordable way to ensure you and your spouse establish a legacy account. With this policy, you can insure two people under a single policy with a death benefit that passes from one party to the next after death. There is the potential for tax-deferred growth with more than 70 options so you can customize how you invest your money. You can also take advantage of cash surrender value that is free of income tax. 

Long-Term Care Insurance

Equitable offers long-term care insurance, which helps pay for medical care over an extended period of time. This can include paying for nursing homes or hospice care, as well as the support of an in-home health aide. Any unused benefits will then become a part of the death benefit that passes on to your beneficiary.

Available Riders

A rider is a type of endorsement that allows you to add specific coverage to your policy. It gives you the opportunity for further customized coverage that molds your policy to your exact needs.

Cash Value Plus Rider

If you need access to additional cash, this rider lowers the surrender charge and other potential fees if you surrender your policy within the first eight years of purchase.

Charitable Legacy Rider

With this rider, you can dedicate an additional life insurance benefit to up to two eligible charities. This policy will pay 1% of the base policy face amount up to $100,000. 

Children’s Term Insurance

This rider provides term insurance for a child and can be converted into a permanent policy.

Disability Waiver of Monthly Deductions Rider

If you experience a total disability for a minimum of six months, Equitable will waive your policy’s monthly deductions. Age limitations apply.

Long-Term Care Services Rider

This is an accelerated life insurance benefit to cover long-term care expenses. 

Option to Purchase Additional Insurance

If you need to purchase additional coverage later, this rider allows you to purchase another policy without having to prove insurability.

Return of Premium Death Benefit Rider

With this rider, your beneficiaries can receive a portion of your paid premiums returned to them after your death.

Customer Service

Equitable is very organized when it comes to customer service. There is dedicated support based on your exact needs, so you can feel secure that your inquiry is going to the right department. In addition to online management, there is also chat support by going to the website. Customer service is available by phone Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at (800) 777-6510. You can also call that number at any time to receive policy information and support from the interactive voice response system. You may also reach Equitable Financial via fax at (855) 268-6378.

Mail Support
Type of Support Mailing Address Express Mail
Service requests, inquiries, and payments Equitable
PO Box 1047
Charlotte, NC 28201- 1047
Equitable
National Operations Center
8501 IBM Drive, Suite 150
Charlotte, NC 28262

There is also dedicated mail support for universal life policies.

Universal Life Policies
Support Phone Fax Mailing Address
Account numbers  24 000 000 to 24 999 999 (800) 342-4368, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST (434) 948-5716 Equitable Life Administration Center
PO Box 6040
Lynchburg, VA 24505

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) rates companies based on its complaint index. The average score is 1.00, which serves as a baseline for all scores based on market share. Equitable received a score of 0.12 in 2020, which is a very good score with a number of complaints well below the average. However, although its rankings are excellent, they have been slightly declining since 2018, when its overall score was an even lower 0.05.

Third-Party Ratings

Equitable is not rated in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction ratings, although this is not necessarily a sign of worry. With so many insurance companies available today, there is only a small fraction that makes it into J.D. Power’s survey each year. However, Equitable receives strong scores for financial health. AM Best, an industry expert that studies a company’s financial stability, gives Equitable an A (Excellent) rating. This indicates strong reliability when it comes to things like claims processing and reimbursement. Standard & Poor's also rewards Equitable with strong scores, awarding an A+ rating, which is its fifth-highest ranking.

Cancellation Policy

The Free Look Cancellation Right, also known as the free look period, enables a customer to test out services and then cancel if unsatisfied for any reason. During the free look period, you can receive a refund of premiums paid. From there, policyholders have the option to either surrender their contract or cancel. When you surrender your whole life insurance contract, you may be able to receive cash value less any surrender fees.

Price

Equitable’s pricing weighs heavily on several factors. These factors help assess your risk as a policyholder, so Equitable can ensure that you have the right coverage at the right price to cover the unique potential risks in your life. Factors that affect the cost of your life insurance quote include your age, height, weight, where you live, and the coverage you choose. Gender is another factor, as many companies base their rates on sex at birth and not gender identity at the time of application. While Equitable does not publicly share its policy on gender identity, it has a company-wide pledge called CEO Act!on for Diversity & Inclusion. 

However, several factors impact the cost of your quote, such as your medical history, driving record, and lifestyle. For example, to qualify for Equitable’s Preferred Elite rate classification, you will need to meet the following:

  • High blood pressure: Equitable looks for adults with a blood pressure of 140/85, but if you are 60 and older, a blood pressure of 150/90 is acceptable.
  • Tobacco and substance use: The most competitive rates are given to those with no history of substance use and no tobacco use within the last five years.
  • Driving record: Higher rates are often given to those with driver histories that include multiple moving violations, license suspensions, driving while intoxicated (DWI), and driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Lifestyle and hobbies: Those with safer lifestyles can usually expect cheaper rates than those with regular risk, such as pilots or those who skydive for a hobby.

Generally, those who are younger with a good medical history and clean driving record will receive Equitable’s cheapest rates for life insurance.

Young applicants, nonsmokers, and those with no substance abuse receive some of Equitable’s best rates for life insurance. 

Competition

As two of the most popular companies in the U.S., both Equitable and New York Life share name brand recognition as well-respected providers of life insurance. New York Life holds a much larger market share with double the plans that Equitable offers, and yet Equitable’s dividends far exceed those of New York Life. Equitable also holds a lower overall NAIC complaints trend, meaning that while close, Equitable has slightly better customer satisfaction scores compared to New York Life. However, with double the number of plans and better financial stability, New York Life may provide more options and greater flexibility for your life insurance.

  Equitable New York Life
Market Share 15th-largest in U.S., 1.68% Largest in U.S., 6.75%
Number of Plans  10 
Dividends for 2020  $12.9 billion  $1.9 billion 
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives  Yes  Not applicable 
Service Method  Financial Advisors  Agents 
AM Best Rating  A (Excellent)  A++ (Superior) 
Price Rank  Better than most  Better than most 
Complaint Index  0.12 Excellent  0.15 Excellent 
Final Verdict

Equitable is not a great fit for the DIYer who will miss the online and mobile independence that other companies can offer. However, if you are looking for affordable, customizable life insurance that provides professional financial management, Equitable could be a great fit for you.

Methodology

To find the best life insurance providers, we perform regular, ongoing analyses of the industry’s latest data and figures to judge provider performance using Investopedia’s exclusive methodology. We consider each company’s policy offerings to ensure that each provider has the options your family needs, along with affordable pricing to meet your budget. We also look for riders and discounts, which can help you mold your policy into the right fit for your needs. Also critical are third-party ratings, which indicate how well a company performs after the contract is signed. We check the ratings of respected industry experts, like AM Best for financial stability and J.D. Power and NAIC for customer satisfaction. These criteria and more all help form a more well-rounded portrait so you can determine the best life insurance carrier for you.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Equitable Financial Life Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed May 21, 2021.