AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company
|Industry||Insurance: Life & Health|
|Headquarters||1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York City, United States
|Andrew McMahon, President|
|Total assets||$533 billion|
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, formerly The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, also known as The Equitable, or simply AXA was founded by Henry Baldwin Hyde in 1859. In 1991, AXA, a French insurance company, acquired majority control of The Equitable. In 2004, it officially changed its name to AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company.
Equitable Life Insurance opened its headquarters at the Equitable Life Building in 1875 near Wall Street. It had an excellent location with three entrances on Broadway (Manhattan), Pine Street, and Cedar Street. The edifice had six elevators and incomparable facilities for lawyers, who were located almost entirely in the building's upper stories. Aside from Hyde, who was president of Equitable, the firm's officers included James Waddell Alexander (Vice President), George W. Phillips (Actuary) who was Vice President of the Actuarial Society of America, and Samuel Borrowe (Secretary). Borrowe's family was a prominent New York family connected to the Hallett and Alsop families.
James Waddell Alexander, the son of James Waddel Alexander, was the company president at the time of the Hyde costume ball scandal in 1905, in which James Hazen Hyde, the son of the founder and a vice president of the company, was falsely accused through a media smear campaign initiated by Alexander and board directors E. H. Harriman, Henry Clay Frick, J.P. Morgan of charging a fabulous $200,000 costume ball to the company. The repercussions rocked Wall Street, and resulted in an investigation of the entire insurance industry by the State of New York.
After the company's headquarters building burned down in 1912, Equitable moved to the Equitable Building at 120 Broadway in Manhattan.
In 1943 during the midst of WWII, Equitable began underwriting policies for the War Agencies Employees Protective Association to provide group life insurance to U.S. Government employees working in or around war zones. Through WAEPA Equitable sold policies to employees of some 40 U.S. agencies, including individuals from the Offices of Strategic Services and War Information, which often sent their men behind enemy lines, and air-traveling statesmen and Congressmen. By May 1945 only 24 death claims had been filed, (about half the normal peacetime rate for a group plan covering 7,000 workers) allowing the insurer to return roughly 30% of the premiums to WAEPA.
In 1985, the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, then the U.S.'s third largest life insurance company, formed Equitable Real Estate Investment Management, a subsidiary used by Equitable Life to develop and finance new real estate projects and manage the US$20 billion worth of real estate under Equitable's control.
In 2014, the New York Department of Financial Services fined the U.S. insurance unit of AXA SA for $20 million, after Axa Equitable Life Insurance made changes to variable annuity contracts without adequate notice.
- Malkin, Lawrence; Neher, Jacques (1991-07-19). "French Insurer To Put $1 Billion Into Equitable: Axa Buys Stake in U.S. Firm". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-04-19.
- "AXA Equitable History". AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- "Obituary". New York Times. 1898-10-01. p. 7.
- The New Equitable Life Building, New York Times (January 22, 1875) pg. 7.
- "Death of Samuel Borrowe". New York Times. 1896-05-04. p. 5.
- INSURANCE: Bad Risks, Good Record, Time (May 28, 1945 Vol. XLV No.22)
- David LaGesse (June 14, 1984). "Equitable Life Assurance to Create Subsidiary to Manage Real Estate: Move Illustrates Drive for Diversification in Insurance Industry". American Banker. p. 1. Retrieved November 23, 2012.
- Mercado, Darla. "Axa to pay $20M fine for handling of variable annuities". Investment News. Crain Communications. Retrieved 19 September 2017.