The class action lawsuit alleges that AXA Equitable breached its contracts with certain policy owners and circulated illustrations with misrepresentations. In October 2015, policyholders were issued letters announcing that their insurance policies would be subject to the COI Rate Increase, and Plaintiffs assert the COI Rate Increase violated the terms of the policyholders’ contracts, and that Plaintiffs and members of the Classes have been damaged as a result. Plaintiffs also allege that AXA Equitable planned to increase the COI rates of the AUL II policies as early as July 10, 2006, but concealed that fact in illustrations promulgated in connection with the issuance and maintenance of the policies until the COI Rate Increase was announced in 2015. AXA Equitable denies Plaintiffs’ claims and asserts multiple defenses, including that AXA Equitable’s challenged actions are consistent with the terms of the policy contracts and applicable laws and regulations, justified, and have not harmed Plaintiffs or caused any damages.
On August 13, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification for two nationwide Classes: the Policy-Based Claims Class and the Illustration-Based Claims Class. The Policy-Based Claims Class relates to allegations that AXA Equitable’s COI Rate Increase breached the terms of AUL II policies. The Illustration-Based Claims Class relates to allegations that AXA Equitable circulated illustrations with misrepresentations. The Court also certified one New York Sub-Class for the Illustration-Based Claims Class, which relates to allegations that AXA Equitable’s illustration misconduct was materially misleading to reasonable consumers, in violation of G.B.L. § 349. The Court denied class certification of three California Sub-Classes based on the UCL and Elder Abuse Law claims, which, as a result, are not part of this class action. In its class certification order, the Court also reserved the rights of all absent class members outside of New York and California to participate in this case as an absent class member and also later bring any claim arising out of the COI Rate Increase not actually litigated here, as well as the right of all absent class members to participate in this case as an absent class member and to assert related claims under the California Elder Abuse Law. In doing so, the Court cautioned that there is no guarantee that a later court would honor its reservation of rights.
The Court’s order certifying the Classes does not predict or guarantee that Class Members will receive any money or benefits; that will be decided later. In certifying this lawsuit as a class action, the Court has made no decision as to the merits of the Plaintiffs’ legal claims or AXA Equitable’s defenses.