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Equitable is one of the oldest life insurers in the world and it has a long track record of offering life insurance and reliably paying death benefits. It has an excellent financial profile and fewer-than-expected customer complaints for a company its size. The company also offers no-medical-exam policies.
But Equitable doesn't offer whole life and other popular individual life insurance policies, nor does it provide an online quote tool to help you compare prices. This is a feature that's becoming an industry standard.
Premiums can be paid with Apple Pay
Lower than expected number of customer complaints
Limited types of policies are available
Online quotes aren't offered
- Company Overview
New York businessman Henry B. Hyde founded the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States as a mutual firm back in 1859. The company’s name and ownership structure have changed over the last 160-plus years, but it remains one of the leading providers of variable and indexed universal life policies in the United States. Headquartered in New York, Equitable is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But not all products are available in every location.
Equitable has many positive attributes, but it didn't 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.
- Premiums can be paid with Apple Pay: Equitable is your answer if you’re looking for a policy that allows you to pay premiums with your digital wallet. It accepts Apple Pay for some products.
- Lower than expected number of customer complaints: Equitable’s customers have filed fewer than expected complaints against the company.
- Limited types of policies are available: Equitable doesn’t offer many types of insurance products compared to other life insurance companies. You can’t purchase whole life or regular universal life policies.
- Online quotes aren't offered: It’s essential to compare quotes when you're shopping for life insurance, but Equitable doesn’t provide online quotes. You must call and speak with a representative instead.
Equitable received fewer than expected complaints in 2022, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). 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. Companies with fewer complaints than expected have an index below 1.00.
Equitable has an average complaint index of 0.10 over three years as of May 2023, so there haven't been as many customer complaints as one would expect for a company of its size.
J.D. Power ranked Equitable 17th out of 21 large insurers for overall customer satisfaction in 2021, and it didn't even rank the company in its 2022 study.
Equitable’s financial stability is deemed to be excellent. Insurance rating agency AM Best assigned the insurer an A (Excellent) rating for financial strength in 2022. 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.
Equitable gets high marks for its financial strength, but the company scored 749 out of 1,000 possible points in J.D. Power's 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study, falling below the industry average score of 776.
Equitable doesn’t offer as many policy types as some of the other insurers we've researched. Here’s a look at the policies it does sell.
Term Life Insurance
Equitable offers two term life insurance policies. Term life insurance provides a guaranteed death benefit if the policyholder dies within the specified period. 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 the monthly premium but there’s no cash value. Equitable allows you to convert your term coverage into a plan that’s permanent if you decide you'd prefer a different type of policy.
Variable Universal Life Insurance
Your death benefit and cash value are based on the performance of an underlying investment portfolio if you purchase variable universal life insurance. This requires that you make investment choices and manage your policy to a greater extent than you would with 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. But your account won’t lose money if the index falls because it’s not directly invested in the stock market. These policies offer more stability than variable universal life policies because your cash value is only pegged to a specific index rather than being directly invested.
A rider is an add-on to your life insurance policy that provides additional coverage or benefits. These endorsements can help you customize your coverage to meet your exact needs.
Guaranteed Insurability Rider
A guaranteed insurability 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. The rider pays out a death benefit if a covered child dies before reaching a certain age. Coverage is usually convertible to a permanent policy when the child reaches adulthood.
Waiver of Premium Rider
This rider protects you if 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
Equitable guarantees that your policy won't be terminated for a stated period if you choose this rider, provided that you’ve paid the premium required to maintain the no-lapse guarantee.
Accelerated Death Benefit: Terminal Illness Rider
This rider allows you to access part of your death benefit before you die if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness. You can use the funds however you’d like. 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 but it's specifically for long-term care expenses. It pays out a portion of your death benefit to help cover the costs if you have a chronic condition and have to pay for long-term care.
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 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET Friday.
You can also mail correspondence to Equitable at P.O. Box 1047, Charlotte, NC 28201-1047.
There’s no live chat available or email address listed on Equitable's website contact page.
Equitable Life Insurance provides only term, variable, and indexed universal life insurance, but you won't have to undergo a medical exam to qualify for a policy if you're healthy. The insurer also offers numerous riders. But you may be happier with another insurance company if you want to purchase a policy quickly and without much fuss. You can't get a quote from Equitable online. You must reach out to a representative.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Equitable a reputable company?
Equitable has a long track record of issuing life insurance policies and paying out death benefits. It's one of the leading providers of variable and indexed universal life in the United States. NAIC gives Equitable an average complaint index of 0.10, so policyholders have been satisfied with the company's performance.
How do I get my money out of Equitable?
Equitable says that life insurance claims are paid after the company ensures that you're the rightful beneficiary, that the policy is current and in good standing, and that all conditions of the policy have been met. You can access a death claim form on the company's website. You'll have to provide a certified copy of the death certificate. You can call Equitable at 800-777-6510 for further guidance to make a claim.
Is Equitable FDIC-insured?
The FDIC does not insure life insurance policies. FDIC insurance protects you only if you have money in an insured bank that fails.
We designed a comprehensive ranking methodology to rank more than 90 insurers across five general categories: financial stability, customer satisfaction, product and feature variety, the overall buying experience, and cost. It's based on consumer priorities and life insurance company fundamentals.
We collected over 5,000 data points and scored each company based on 55 metrics to accomplish this. We grouped metrics by category to determine how insurers performed in each, then we weighted category scores to determine how companies performed overall.
Read our full Life Insurance Methodology to learn more.
Equitable. "About Equitable."
NAIC. "NAIC Complaint Index for Equitable."
J.D. Power. “2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study.”
J.D. Power. “2022 U.S. Group Life Insurance Study.”
AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of Equitable Holdings, Inc. and Its Life Subsidiaries."