The IASB’s exposure draft on insurance contracts marks a major step towards implementing a common insurance reporting framework across much of the world.
The debate has run for more than 15 years and the conclusion of the insurance project is now in sight.
The new proposals apply to all insurance contracts, including certain financial guarantees, rather than insurance entities, and to investment contracts with a discretionary participation feature (DPF) issued by insurance companies.
“This would be the biggest ever financial reporting change for most insurers – far surpassing the adoption of IFRS. The extent of change would be far-reaching, and there is no question that insurers’ financial statements would look very different compared to today.”
The ED introduces a revised current value measurement model, with significant changes in key areas that have been at the heart of the debate since the initial proposals were released in 2010.
The latest proposals would go some of the way towards addressing concerns that the changes to insurance and financial instruments accounting would create volatility in profit or loss.
One way that the proposals aim to achieve this is by stripping out from the income statement any changes in discount rates on the valuation of an insurer’s liabilities and changes in fair value for some of its financial assets under the completed version of IFRS 9 Financial Instruments.
To this end, the effects of changes in discount rates on insurance liabilities would be recognised in other comprehensive income (OCI), rather than profit or loss.
There continues to be a simplified (or ‘premium-allocation’) measurement approach, which would be expected to reduce the operational complexity of applying the measurement model to short-duration contracts.
The ED also introduces a new presentation approach for both the statement of profit or loss and OCI and the statement of financial position, which would significantly change the way insurers – especially life insurers – report performance.
Insurance contract revenue would be allocated over the coverage period in proportion to the value of the services provided in each period, which would be very different to the premium figures presented today.
The proposals contain several other major changes, including:
The proposals would be likely to have a profound impact across an organisation, affecting asset-liability management and decisions over product design, features and pricing.
Capital management and regulatory requirements may also be affected in some jurisdictions. And the new data collection and retention requirements could necessitate systems upgrades, increased demand for resources and additional training.
The IASB developed the proposals in the ED jointly with the FASB. However, in February 2014 the FASB changed the future direction of its insurance contracts project, choosing to focus on targeted improvements to existing US GAAP requirements.
For information on the FASB’s project, see KPMG’s Issues & Trends in Insurance.
With the IASB’s comment period having closed on 25 October 2013, redeliberations are ongoing. The IASB’s new standard is now expected in 2016.
We will continue to report on the latest developments in the IASB’s insurance contracts project. Visit our IFRS – Insurance hot topics page.
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