Equitable has a long and varied history. Starting off as The Equitable Life Assurance Society in Manhattan in 1859, the publicly held company was acquired by AXA, a French insurance firm, in 1991. By 2004, the name of The Equitable was changed to AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, and after a spinoff from AXA in 2018, the name was again changed to Equitable Holdings, Inc, in January 2020. Because of the recent name change, some consumers might think the company has gone under; but don’t worry, it’s still around, with over 4,100 employees spread out across the country offering life insurance and other products that mostly concern retirement financial planning. Equitable also has branches in other countries, with Canadian branches receiving high customer satisfaction ratings. However, Equitable Holdings is not to be confused with the similarly named Equitable Life which is based in the United Kingdom.
While Equitable Holdings offers a varied portfolio of financial planning products, here we will only focus on life insurance and annuities.
Table of Contents:
- Types of Life Insurance Offered by Equitable
- Riders Available from Equitable
- Unique Features of the Equitable Life Insurance
- The Equitable Life Insurance Application Process
Types of Life Insurance Offered by Equitable
As with most life insurance providers, Equitable offers two types: permanent, which is life-long, and term, which only covers a specific period. Term life insurance is more affordable but does not accumulate a cash value over time. Permanent life insurance does accumulate a cash value, and can help build financial stability, but costs more. There are several permanent life insurance and term life insurance products available, which are discussed below.
Permanent Life from Equitable
Indexed Universal Life: BrightLife Grow®
With indexed universal life insurance, clients can pay different amounts at different times and can earn a fixed interest rate every month because a portion of the payment goes towards tracking the performance of the S&P 500® Index. The cash value can be accessed for multiple reasons, and it’s tax-free. Furthermore, there is protection if the market experiences losses.
Variable Universal Life: VUL OptimizerSM and VUL LegacySM
If you don’t mind risk with the possible loss of principal invested, variable universal life may be of interest as the gains can be quite good. You invest directly in the market and your death benefit remains secure. Market stabilizer options are available, and more information is on the Equitable website.
Survivorship Life Insurance: VUL Survivorship
This product is for two people who wish to be insured; a death benefit is paid to the survivor after the death of one of the insured. A good way to leave an inheritance to a child or grandchild, survivorship life insurance (a type of variable universal life insurance) builds cash value over time.
Long-term Care Coverage
Apparently, resources are available at The Equitable for planning long-term care; however, information on the website is limited and potential clients are advised to speak with one of the company’s long-term financial planning advisors.
Term Life from Equitable
Term life insurance at Equitable is also a popular option for those who need short-term coverage and need to keep their costs down.
Term 10, Term 15, and Term 20
For these types of term life insurance, premiums are level for 10, 15, or 20 years. The policies are also convertible to permanent policies which will enable the policyholders to accumulate cash value, as long as certain criteria are met.
For the first three years, premiums are guaranteed, but after the first year, they will go up year by year. The increases will be implemented according to maximum term rates.
A term life insurance product that is only valid for one year, it is not renewable after the expiration date.
If you are looking for something that will provide another stream of income for your retirement or later stages of life, Equitable Holdings also offers annuities, which include:
Designed to be flexible while protecting and growing an income stream, benefits include a lifetime income, guaranteed death benefits, and opportunities to invest.
Structured Capital Strategies® and Structured Capital Strategies®PLUS
Offering some protection from downward trends in the market, the Structured Capital Strategies has good growth potential without fees that are explicit. The PLUS version features more growth potential or upside trends.
If your main concerns about your investments are tax deferral during your working years and tax-efficient distribution during retirement, an Investment Edge annuity may be an appropriate product. Your investments with this annuity are also diversified, mitigating some risks.
Riders Available from Equitable
Equitable does allow for some customization of their life insurance products for a price.
Riders for life insurance include:
Cash Value Plus – If in the first 8 years a qualifying policy is surrendered, your cash value increases because the surrender charge is decreased.
Charitable Legacy Rider® – If you want to leave something to up to two qualifying charities, this rider option will let you leave a benefit equal to 1% of the policy base with a maximum amount of $100,000.
Children’s Term Insurance Rider – If you want protection for your children, this rider can convert a child’s term insurance to a permanent policy and your children will not have to prove insurability.
Disability Waiver of Monthly Deduction – Monthly deductions are waived if the policyholder is completely disabled for more than 180 days. However, there are conditions. The disability must start prior to the anniversary of the policy closest to age 60; if disability occurs after age 60, then the policy anniversary changes to that nearest age 65.
Long-Term Care ServicesSM – Long-term care services can be paid for with an accelerated life insurance benefit. Some conditions do apply, which can be seen in the company’s website.
Option to Purchase Additional Insurance – New life insurance policies can be purchased for the insured without proof of insurability.
Return of Premium Death Benefit Rider – Although this rider cannot be used concurrently with the long-term care services rider, the policyholder’s beneficiaries will get an extra, added death benefit roughly equal to a predetermined percentage of the premiums already paid.
Unique Features of the Equitable Life Insurance
In the ocean of life insurance companies that exist in the United States, what makes Equitable stand out? Well, they have been around since 1859, making them one of the older and more established providers. Equitable also provides other types of insurance along with life insurance; both individuals and businesses can find the financial planning products they need.
According to A. M. Best, the insurance company rating company, Equitable Holdings gets an “A” rating, meaning that the company is superior in meeting its insurance obligations and unlikely to go under. For a consumer, Equitable Holdings is stable and capable of providing secure, guaranteed coverage.
Unfortunately, customer reviews for Equitable are generally unfavorable. Customer relations seem to be problematic, with several complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau going unanswered. While the Canadian branches of Equitable get good reviews, branches in the United States do not, with some reviewers going so far as to demand criminal investigations into the company’s business practices. Other complaints deal with Equitable failing to meet coverage promises, long wait times for claims, and rude customer representatives. There are some good reviews from those who appreciated the personal touch of their Equitable representatives during the rough patches in their lives, but these appear to be the exception rather than the rule.
The Equitable Life Insurance Application Process
It is very difficult to find application process information online; in fact, it is difficult to find contact information on the website. There is a member’s area that is password protected. Therefore, a person interested in purchasing a policy would need to use the website to find a financial advisor and take things from there. However, a person can guess that traditional underwriting is used during the application process because there are no mentions anywhere of accelerated application programs.
Final Word – Is Equitable Legit?
When it comes to stability and meeting its financial obligations, Equitable Life Insurance is indeed legitimate. It has been around for almost two hundred years and has survived several owners and incarnations. At first glance, it appears to be a great company. But unfortunately, a savvy consumer may want to avoid this company due to its abysmal customer satisfaction rating and difficulty getting information. While some customers do say the service is adequate as long as the client puts in a lot of time doing research, most would rather take their business to a company that makes things easier, not harder. If a somewhat pleasant experience is important when it comes to buying Life Insurance, you might want to check out other providers. And if Equitable wants to stay in the business for another century, they will need to improve their rapport with customers and do whatever it takes to make things run more smoothly.
|Equitable Company Contact Information|
|Address||1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104
|Phone Number||(866) 444-6001|