Equitable Life Insurance Review

Low-cost term life insurance for young, healthy individuals

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Equitable

Equitable

overall rating
4.6

Our Take 

Equitable is a life insurance company that has been in business since 1859 and offers term and permanent life insurance. With a strong financial rating from AM Best, flexible term life insurance, multiple universal life insurance options, and over 2.8 million customers, Equitable is a great option for those looking for custom life insurance. However, Equitable does not offer online quotes, though, making it tough to compare with other top life insurance companies.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple variable universal life policies available

  • Can borrow against cash value of some policies

  • Very few complaints for an insurance company its size

Cons
  • No whole life policy available

  • No online quotes available for any policy

  • No fixed-rate permanent life policies available

Key Takeaways
  • Equitable has eight riders that can be added to policies to tailor them to client’s needs
  • Equitable has over 12,000 agents and 2.8 million policies in force, making it one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S.
  • Equitable offers annual renewable term life policies.
  • As of 2020, Equitable is no longer owned by AXA (a French holding company).
Specifications
  • Year Founded 1859
  • Kinds of Plans Term, universal, variable universal
  • Number of Plans 3
  • Payment Options Monthly, annual
  • Official Website https://www.Equitable.com/

Introduction

Equitable offers term, universal, and variable universal life insurance through independent agents. We researched Equitable’s financial stability, policy plan options, riders, website tools, and customer service reviews to help you compare the life insurance policy options of Equitable with the competition. 

Company Overview

Equitable was founded in 1859 and in 1991 was purchased by French holding company AXA, renaming the company AXA Equitable. In 2020, Equitable once again become an independent insurance company and removed “AXA” from its name, 

Equitable offers term and universal life insurance policies with a variety of riders available as well to help add additional coverage options and flexibility to your policy. Policy quotes are not available online, so you will need to talk directly to an agent for an exact quote.

Equitable is licensed in all 50 states, but actual availability varies by product and state. 

Equitable also offers annuities, work retirement plans, and supplement insurance products as employee benefits.

Available Plans 

Equitable offers three types of life insurance plans including term, universal, and variable universal plans. Plans are sold through independent agents.

Term Series Life Insurance

The Equitable Term Series life insurance offering has three types of premium payment options. 

  1. The level-premium plans offer 10-, 15- or 20-year terms. 
  2. The variable premium plan has premiums rise each year after a three-year level premium period.
  3. The one-year non-renewable plan is a single-premium term coverage policy to help cover a gap in life insurance coverage.

All Term Series coverage is a convertible term life policy that can be converted into a whole life policy at the end of the term.

Indexed Universal Life Insurance

Equitable offers indexed universal life insurance with flexible insurance premiums, which can be split between a basic interest account and an index account. The indexed accounts may earn interest based on changes in the value of an index or indexes. Policyholders will have four indexes to choose from, including the S&P 500 index and the Russell 2,000 index.

Equitable’s indexed life also has a rate protection guarantee, protecting your cash value from market downturns. If the index you invest in has a negative return, your policy will return zero percent but will not lose money.

Variable Universal Life Insurance

Equitable also offers two variable universal life insurance products. Variable universal policies are the most flexible for investing cash value but also come with a risk of loss. Some variable policies do not offer the same rate guarantees as the indexed universal life policy but also have no cap on growth.

  • The VUL Optimizer: This variable universal policy allows for ultimate flexibility in investing the cash value of the policy, but no downside protection. With over 40 investment options and multiple pre-built portfolios, clients can diversify their holdings within the account.
  • The VUL Legacy: This policy is similar to the Optimizer with access to a wide array of investment options, but there is downside protection available. Clients can choose to put a portion of their cash value into a guaranteed-interest account that pays at least 1.5% annually.

Available Riders

Equitable offers access to several riders for its life insurance policies. A rider is a coverage enhancement that allows for more flexibility on an insurance policy. Rider fees are typically billed as a small percentage of the policy premium, or as a flat annual fee. Fees vary by policy, product, and options selected.

Children’s Term Life Rider

This rider offers level-term life insurance for your children. This rider is available on all policies, and the term policies can be converted to a permanent policy once the child is 18 years old.

Disability Waiver of Premium Rider

If you become permanently disabled (unable to work), you may be eligible to have your premiums waived.

Cash Value Plus Rider

This rider lowers the surrender charges and fees of permanent life policies if you need to surrender the policy within the first eight years.

Charitable Legacy Rider

This rider allows the insured to gift up to 1% of the face value of the policy to (up to ) two different charities. This rider is limited to a face value of $100,000.

Option to Purchase Additional Insurance

This rider allows the insured to purchase additional life insurance coverage without having to take another medical exam or answer any health-related questions.

Long Term Care Services Rider

This rider is available if the insured is chronically ill and receiving qualified long-term care services. It allows for access to the death benefit to help pay for monthly long-term care services. Monthly payments from the rider reduce the death benefit of the policy.

Return of Premium Rider

If the insured outlives their policy, owners of this optional rider will return a specified percentage of premiums paid for the life of the policy. This rider is only available on indexed universal life policies.

Living Benefits Rider 

This rider allows the insured to receive a portion of the policy’s death benefit if they are diagnosed with a terminal illness and given 12 months (or less) to live. This rider is available on all policies at no additional cost.

Customer Service: Phone, Email, or App

Equitable offers support over the phone by calling (800) 777-6510 or via email. Equitable has a mobile app for managing your policy as well. Equitable also has a presence on social media and offers basic customer service via Twitter.

Equitable customer service business hours are Monday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m ET, and Tuesday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m ET.

Equitable does not offer live chat support online.

Customer Satisfaction: Very Good 

According to the NAIC complaint index, Equitable receives far fewer complaints than other life insurance companies its size. An average complaint score is 1.0 (the lower, the better), and Equitable received a 0.12 score. This is slightly up from its 2019 score of 0.06, but is still well below the average number of complaints.

J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction rating ranked Equitable 19 out of 23 life insurance companies in the U.S. in their 2020 Life Insurance Study. This is lower than industry average, based on Equitable’s application and orientation (on-boarding process), communications, interaction, price, product offerings, and statements.

Financial Strength: B++ (Good)

Equitable is a strong financial company with a B++ (Good) rating from AM Best. This is based on its strong balance sheet, as well as its strong operating performance, favorable business profile, and appropriate enterprise risk management. 

While this rating is good, we recommend life insurance companies with an A- (Excellent) rating or above from AM Best. This gives customers confidence that the life insurance company can afford to pay out claims as they arise.

Cancellation Policy: Hard to Find for Most Policies

Equitable adheres to the minimum “free-look” period for insurance policies. This is a state-regulated time period in which clients can cancel a life insurance policy for a full refund. The minimum free-look period is usually 10 days.

After the free-look period has ended, cancellation terms vary between life insurance policies. Equitable Term life policies can be canceled at any time, but will not provide a refund of premiums paid. Universal and variable universal policies can be canceled at any time but may have a surrender of premium charge, or other fees associated.

Equitable’s cancellation fees are not publicly listed and may vary per policy. Contact your insurance agent for more details on Equitable’s cancellation options.

Price of Equitable: Low Cost for Young, Healthy Adults  

Equitable does not advertise its rates on any of its policies, and pricing details will need to be obtained from an independent insurance agent. Term policies usually have the lowest monthly premium, as they are a type of temporary life insurance coverage that does not build cash value. Universal and variable universal pricing will vary, and usually carries a higher premium, but can build cash value over time.

How Equitable Compares to Other Life Insurance

Equitable offers term and universal policies with flexible terms and riders available. It is a long-standing company with a low number of customer complaints, and over 2.8 million customers nationwide.

That being said, they don’t have a wide variety of policies available, and the agents selling Equitable products are commission-based. Here’s how Equitable compares to another life insurance company.

Equitable vs. Zander Life Insurance

Both Equitable and Zander offer term life insurance with available riders. Both companies also allow the term policies to be converted to permanent life insurance at any point during the term. But while Zander compares policies between multiple insurance companies, Equitable actually underwrites and services its policies.

Here are a few more differences between Equitable and Zander:

  • Zander offers online quotes for term life policies and the ability to apply online.
  • Equitable offers multiple universal and variable universal life policies.
  • Zander only works with top-rated life insurance companies with an AM Best financial rating of A (Excellent) or better.
  • Equitable offers clients the ability to invest the cash value of their policies for tax-deferred growth.

While Zander offers great rates for its term policies for healthy individuals, clients wanting more flexibility and growth from their life insurance policies may want to check out Equitable’s universal life policies.

Read our full Zander Life Insurance review.

  Equitable Zander Life Insurance
Market Share 15th-largest in the U.S., 1.68% N/A
Number of Plans  3 1
Online Quotes Available?  No  Yes 
Service Method  Email, phone, app  Phone and email 
AM Best Rating  B++ (Good)  A (Excellent) or better 
Complaints Index  0.16 (excellent)  Varies 
Final Verdict

Equitable offers a narrow selection of life insurance policies with flexible term options and additional riders for customized coverage. It offers 40+ investment options for its variable policies, giving customers the ability to grow the cash value of the policy and potentially borrow against it on a tax-free basis.

That said, it doesn’t offer online quotes for term policies, making it difficult to compare rates online. It also doesn’t have the strongest rating from AM Best, which may be a slight concern for those wanting peace of mind that claims will be paid out.

If you are in the market for term life insurance, you may be better served elsewhere, but those looking for the flexibility of universal life insurance could benefit from Equitable’s offerings.

Methodology 

All of our reviews of life insurance companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company’s offerings, customer service, financial stability, cost, and more. For each company, we compared the life insurance products offered, as well as available features, and reported customer experiences. Visit our life insurance review methodology for the full breakdown of what we evaluated for over two dozen companies.