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AXA Equitable Life Insurance Review

AXA Equitable became just Equitable in January of 2020. They dropped AXA as a sign they were moving away from their parent company, AXA SA to become an independent U.S. based company. Originally, Henry B. Hyde founded Equitable Life Assurance in 1859. They offered their first variable life insurance policy in 1970 and in 2010 they were one of the first companies to offer the structured variable annuity. Today they employ approximately 12,000 employees and hold $701 billion dollars in assets. 

Pros and Cons

– Good variety of IUL and UL options
– Many investment options
– Good financial strength
– No online quoting
– Policies are only sold through agents
– Below average customer reviews

Products Offered by AXA Equitable Life Insurance

AXA Equitable offers term and permanent insurance options. For permanent insurance, they have indexed universal life (IUL), universal life (UL), and Survivorship policies as well as long-term care coverage. 

Term life: You can get term life insurance from Equitable for as little as one year or as many as 20 years. Twenty years is a shorter than many other insurance companies—they usually go up to 30 year terms. The one-year term policy is annual renewable term insurance—you can renew every year without reapplying, but your premium will increase every year. 

Permanent life insurance: Like all permanent life insurance, permanent life insurance from Equitable lasts your entire life. When you die, your heirs get a tax-free lump sum death benefit. 

Indexed universal life insurance (IUL): There are two types of indexed universal life (IUL) policies: IUL Protect and BrightLife Grow. 

>>MORE: Understanding Indexed Universal Life Insurance: Why Is It A Good Option for Retirement Savings?

IUL Protect: This coverage is guaranteed through age 90, or for 40 years if you buy the insurance under age 50. You can choose from two death benefits: Option A is equal to the face value of the policy and Option B is the face value plus the policy account value. You can vary the amount you pay in premiums, as long as the policy doesn’t lapse. The policy builds cash value through your choice of two accounts: guaranteed interest account (interest in earned according to a rate set by Equitable but not less than 2.5%) or the select account, in which interest is earned based on the performance of the S&P index. You can allocate where your premium goes into either account without restriction. 

BrightLife Grow: In this IUL policy, you can choose between four different indexed options:

  • U.S. Large Cap index
  • U.S. Small Cap index
  • International index
  • U.S. Large Cap index (three year option)

You can also choose to put a portion of your premiums into the guaranteed interest account, with a minimum interest rate of 2%.

>>MORE: Should I Invest in S&P 500 Index Through an Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL) Policy?

>>MORE: Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL) vs. 401K

You can customize your IUL policies through various riders:

  • Cash value plan rider
  • Charitable legacy rider
  • Children’s term insurance rider
  • Disability waiver 
  • Long-term care services rider
  • Option to purchase additional insurance
  • Living benefits rider
  • No-lapse guarantee

Some of these riders will incur an extra cost. 

Ed Slott – a renowned tax expert – on tax benefits of IUL policies

Compare quotes of 30+ IUL products

Equitable also has two variable universal life options.

VUL Optimizer: This allows you to choose from a wide range of investment options such as equity portfolios, bond portfolios and a money market portfolio. There is also the market stabilizer option, where you can invest in the S&P index portfolio but have some downside protection.

>>MORE: Understanding How Variable Universal Life Insurance (VUL) Works

VUL Legacy: Equitable promotes this as a more affordable option of UL. You can still invest the cash value in a choice of investment options, and premiums are flexible as long as you pay enough to keep the policy in force. 

They also have VUL Survivorship policies. 

As far as retirement planning goes, Equitable also offers annuities, 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s and 457(b) plans.

Financial Strength Rating of AXA Equitable Life Insurance

A.M. Best gives Equitable insurance company a score of “A”, which is excellent and predicts a stable outlook. This is important because you want to know your insurance company has the  resources to pay claims.

Customer Satisfaction Rating of AXA Equitable Life Insurance

Equitable gets a total score of 730 from J.D. Power’s 2019 Life Insurance Study. The maximum score was 1,000 and the median average score was 761. Equitable gets two “wheels of power” out of five and ranked “among the rest.” Out of 24 companies, Equitable ranked 21st

The BBB lists 22 mostly one-star reviews and 57 complaints. They do give it an A+, although they’re not accredited. 

The reviews mention long wait times to talk to a representative and some difficulties getting Equitable to release funds. Of the 57 complaints, 13 mention a problem with billing and 36 mention a problem with a service (the other eight are “other”). People do go to the BBB website to complain, for the most part, but given Equitable only so-so rating from J.D. Power, potential customers should proceed with caution. 

Consumer Complaints Rating of AXA Equitable Life Insurance

The NAIC rates every insurance company on an index. A score of 1.0 means a company received an average number of complaints. A score of 2.0 would mean a company got twice as many complaints as the average. Equitable (listed as AXA Equitable on NAIC’s website) gets an index score of 3.75, which means they got almost four times the average number of complaints. 

Digital Experience Rating of AXA Equitable Life Insurance

You can’t get a quote online, not even for term insurance. It’s difficult to determine what kind of rates AXA Equitable offers, but we would guess they’re on the high side. If they had really low rates, they would be more likely to advertise that. 

If you need to talk to someone at Equitable, you can call, fax, or use the interactive voice system (aka leave a message). Frankly, they seem woefully behind the rest of the insurance market as far as online resources go. You can find forms online, but you have to send them in by mail. As you might have guessed, there is no mobile app. 

Last Thoughts 

While they offer a nice variety of insurance products, Equitable has below average customer reviews and a very limited digital experience. If neither of these things are important to you, or if you happen to have a relative or a friend whose an Equitable agent, they may work for you.

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