|Traded as||NYSE: EQH|
Russell 1000 Index component
|Industry||Insurance: Life & Health|
|Headquarters||1290 Avenue of the Americas|
New York City, United States
|Mark Pearson, President & CEO|
|Total assets||$ 1.6 trillion|
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. As of 2018, the company has over 15,800 agents licensed by the State of California.
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, 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 World War II, 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 third largest life insurance company in the country, 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.