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AASB 4 - Insurance Contracts - July 2004

Authoritative Version
AASB 4 Standards/Accounting & Auditing as amended, taking into account amendments up to AASB 2009-2
Specifies, in conjunction with AASB 1023 General Insurance Contracts and AASB 1038 Life Insurance Contracts, the financial reporting for insurance contracts by any entity that issues such contracts.
Administered by: Treasury
Registered 17 Nov 2009
Start Date 01 Jul 2009
End Date 22 Dec 2009
Date of repeal 31 Dec 2017
Repealed by AASB 4 - Insurance Contracts - August 2015

Compiled AASB Standard

AASB 4

 

 

 

 

 

Insurance Contracts

 

 

This compiled Standard applies to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 July 2009.  Early application is permitted.  It incorporates relevant amendments made up to and including 22 April 2009.

 

Prepared on 23 October 2009 by the staff of the Australian Accounting Standards Board.

 

 



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COPYRIGHT

 

© 2009 Commonwealth of Australia

 

This compiled AASB Standard contains International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation copyright material.  Reproduction within Australia in unaltered form (retaining this notice) is permitted for personal and non-commercial use subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.  Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights for commercial purposes within Australia should be addressed to The Director of Finance and Administration, Australian Accounting Standards Board, PO Box 204, Collins Street West, Victoria 8007.

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Reproduction outside Australia in unaltered form (retaining this notice) is permitted for personal and non-commercial use only.  Further information and requests for authorisation to reproduce for commercial purposes outside Australia should be addressed to the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation at www.iasb.org.


CONTENTS

COMPILATION DETAILS

Comparison With IFRS 4

Accounting Standard

AASB 4 Insurance Contracts

Paragraphs

Objective                                                                                                                        1

Application                                                                                        Aus1.1 – Aus1.5

Scope                                                                                                             2 – Aus6.1

Embedded derivatives                                                                                   7 – 9

Unbundling of deposit components                                                       10 – 12

Recognition and Measurement                                                                                   

Temporary exemption from some other Australian Accounting Standards 13 – 14

Liability adequacy test                                                                       1519

Impairment of reinsurance assets                                                             20

Changes in accounting policies                                                               21 – 23

Current market interest rates                                                                      24

Continuation of existing practices                                                            25

Prudence                                                                                                       26

Future investment margins                                                                2729

Shadow accounting                                                                                    30

Insurance contracts acquired in a business combination or portfolio transfer  3133

Discretionary participation features                                                                   

Discretionary participation features in insurance contracts                 34

Discretionary participation features in financial instruments               35

Disclosure                                                                                                                       

Explanation of recognised amounts                                                        3637

Nature and extent of risks arising from insurance contracts            3839A

Effective Date and Transition                                                                                   40

Disclosure                                                                                                    4244

Redesignation of financial assets                                                                    45

 

Appendices:

A.  Defined terms                                                                                             Page 26

B.  Definition of an insurance contract                                                        Page 29

 

IMPLEMENTATION GUIDANCE ON IFRS 4

(available on the AASB website)

 

BASIS FOR CONCLUSIONS on IFRS 4

(available on the AASB website)

 

 

Australian Accounting Standard AASB 4 Insurance Contracts (as amended) is set out in paragraphs 1 – 45 and Appendices A – B.  All the paragraphs have equal authority.  Paragraphs in bold type state the main principles.  Terms defined in this Standard are in italics the first time they appear in the Standard.  AASB 4 is to be read in the context of other Australian Accounting Standards, including AASB 1048 Interpretation and Application of Standards, which identifies the Australian Accounting Interpretations.  In the absence of explicit guidance, AASB 108 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors provides a basis for selecting and applying accounting policies.

 


compilation details

Accounting Standard AASB 4 Insurance Contracts as amended

This compiled Standard applies to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 July 2009.  It takes into account amendments up to and including 22 April 2009 and was prepared on 23 October 2009 by the staff of the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB).

This compilation is not a separate Accounting Standard made by the AASB.  Instead, it is a representation of AASB 4 (July 2004) as amended by other Accounting Standards, which are listed in the Table below.

Table of Standards

Standard

Date made

Application date
(annual reporting periods ... on or after ...)

Application, saving or transitional provisions

AASB 4

15 Jul 2004

(beginning) 1 Jan 2005

 

AASB 2005-9

6 Sep 2005

(beginning) 1 Jan 2006

see (a) below

AASB 2005-10

5 Sep 2005

(beginning) 1 Jan 2007

see (b) below

AASB 2007-4

30 Apr 2007

(beginning) 1 Jul 2007

see (c) below

AASB 2007-7

28 Jun 2007

(beginning) 1 Jul 2007

see (c) below

AASB 2007-8

24 Sep 2007

(beginning) 1 Jan 2009

see (d) below

AASB 2007-10

13 Dec 2007

(beginning) 1 Jan 2009

see (d) below

AASB 2008-3

6 Mar 2008

(beginning) 1 Jul 2009

see (e) below

AASB 2009-2

22 Apr 2009

(beginning) 1 Jan 2009
and (ending) 30 Apr 2009

see (f) below

 

(a)       Entities may elect to apply this Standard to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005 but before 1 January 2006. 

(b)       Entities may elect to apply this Standard to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005 but before 1 January 2007. 

(c)       Entities may elect to apply this Standard to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005 but before 1 July 2007. 

(d)       Entities may elect to apply this Standard to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005 but before 1 January 2009, provided that AASB 101 Presentation of Financial Statements (September 2007) is also applied to such periods.

(e)       Entities may elect to apply this Standard to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 30 June 2007 but before 1 July 2009, provided that AASB 3 Business Combinations (March 2008) and AASB 127 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements (March 2008) are also applied to such periods.

(f)       Entities may elect to apply this Standard to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005 but before 1 January 2009 and to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2009 that end before 30 April 2009.

Table of Amendments to Standard

Paragraph affected

How affected

By … [paragraph]

2

amended

AASB 2005-10 [36]

3

amended

amended

AASB 2005-10 [37]

AASB 2007-4 [20]

4

amended

amended

AASB 2005-9 [7, 25]

AASB 2007-4 [20]

14

amended

AASB 2007-8 [6]

15

amended

AASB 2007-8 [6]

17

amended

AASB 2007-4 [20]

30

amended

AASB 2007-8 [20]

31

amended

AASB 2007-4 [20]

33

amended

AASB 2007-4 [20]

34

amended

AASB 2008-3 [8]

35

amended

amended

AASB 2005-10 [38] AASB 2007-4 [20]

37

amended

AASB 2007-8 [6]

38 (and preceding heading)

amended

AASB 2005-10 [39]

39

amended

amended

amended

AASB 2005-10 [39]

AASB 2007-8 [6]

AASB 2009-2 [7]

39A

added

amended

AASB 2005-10 [40]

AASB 2007-8 [20]

41A

note added

AASB 2005-9 [8]

41B

note added

AASB 2007-8 [21]

Appendix A

amended

AASB 2005-9 [9]

B7

amended

AASB 2007-4 [20]

B18

amended

amended

amended

AASB 2005-9 [10]

AASB 2005-9 [25]

AASB 2007-4 [20]

B19

amended

AASB 2005-9 [11]

 

Table of Amendments to Implementation Guidance

Paragraph affected

How affected

By … [paragraph]

IG1-IG71 (all)

deleted

AASB 2007-7 [9]

IG Example 2

amended

AASB 2007-4 [20]

IG Example 3

amended

AASB 2007-4 [20]

IG Example 5

amended

AASB 2007-4 [20]

 

General Terminology Amendments

 

References to ‘financial report(s)’ were amended to ‘financial statements’ by AASB 2007-8 and AASB 2007-10, except in relation to specific Corporations Act references.  These amendments are not shown in the above Tables of Amendments.


Comparison with IFRS 4

AASB 4 and IFRS 4

AASB 4 Insurance Contracts as amended incorporates IFRS 4 Insurance Contracts as issued and amended by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).  Paragraphs that have been added to this Standard (and do not appear in the text of IFRS 4) are identified with the prefix “Aus”, followed by the number of the preceding IASB paragraph and decimal numbering. 

Compliance with IFRS 4

Entities that comply with AASB 4 as amended will simultaneously be in compliance with IFRS 4 as amended.

 

 


ACCOUNTING STANDARD AASB 4

The Australian Accounting Standards Board made Accounting Standard AASB 4 Insurance Contracts under section 334 of the Corporations Act 2001 on 15 July 2004.

 

This compiled version of AASB 4 applies to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 July 2009.  It incorporates relevant amendments contained in other AASB Standards made by the AASB up to and including 22 April 2009 (see Compilation Details).

 

 

 

aCCOUNTING STANDARD AASB 4

Insurance Contracts

Objective

1         The objective of this Standard, in conjunction with AASB 1023 General Insurance Contracts and AASB 1038 Life Insurance Contracts, is to specify the financial reporting for insurance contracts by any entity that issues such contracts (described in this Standard as an insurer) until the AASB and IASB complete the second phase of the insurance project.  In particular, this Standard requires:

(a)       limited improvements to accounting by insurers for insurance contracts; and

(b)      disclosure that identifies and explains the amounts in an insurer’s financial statements arising from insurance contracts and helps users of those financial statements understand the amount, timing and uncertainty of future cash flows from insurance contracts.

Application

Aus1.1          This Standard applies to:

(a)       each entity that is required to prepare financial reports in accordance with Part 2M.3 of the Corporations Act and that is a reporting entity;

(b)       general purpose financial statements of each other reporting entity; and

(c)       financial statements that are, or are held out to be, general purpose financial statements.

Aus1.2          This Standard applies to annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005.
[Note:  For application dates of paragraphs changed or added by an amending Standard, see Compilation Details.]

Aus1.3          This Standard shall not be applied to annual reporting periods beginning before 1 January 2005.

Aus1.4          The requirements specified in this Standard apply to the financial statements where information resulting from their application is material in accordance with AASB 1031 Materiality.

Aus1.5          Notice of this Standard was published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No S 294, 22 July 2004.

Scope

2         An entity shall apply this Standard to:

(a)       insurance contracts (including reinsurance contracts) that it issues and reinsurance contracts that it holds; and

(b)      financial instruments that it issues with a discretionary participation feature (see paragraph 35).  AASB 7 Financial Instruments: Disclosures requires disclosure about financial instruments, including financial instruments that contain such features.

3         This Standard does not address other aspects of accounting by insurers, such as accounting for financial assets held by insurers and financial liabilities issued by insurers (see AASB 132 Financial Instruments: Presentation, AASB 139 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement and AASB 7), except in the transitional provisions in paragraph 45. 

4         An entity shall not apply this Standard to:

Aus4.1          general insurance contracts (see AASB 1023 General Insurance Contracts), except for fixed-fee service contracts that meet the definition of an insurance contract under this Standard;

Aus4.2          life insurance contracts (see AASB 1038 Life Insurance Contracts);

(a)       product warranties issued directly by a manufacturer, dealer or retailer (see AASB 118 Revenue and AASB 137 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets);

(b)      employers’ assets and liabilities under employee benefit plans (see AASB 119 Employee Benefits and AASB 2 Share-based Payment) and retirement benefit obligations reported by defined benefit retirement plans (see AAS 25 Financial Reporting by Superannuation Plans);

(c)       contractual rights or contractual obligations that are contingent on the future use of, or right to use, a non-financial item (for example, some licence fees, royalties, contingent lease payments and similar items), as well as a lessee’s residual value guarantee embedded in a finance lease (see AASB 117 Leases, AASB 118 Revenue and AASB 138 Intangible Assets);

(d)      financial guarantee contracts unless the issuer has previously asserted explicitly that it regards such contracts as insurance contracts and has used accounting applicable to insurance contracts, in which case the issuer may elect to apply either AASB 139, AASB 132 and AASB 7 or AASB 1023 to such financial guarantee contracts.  The issuer may make that election contract by contract, but the election for each contract is irrevocable;

(e)       contingent consideration payable or receivable in a business combination (see AASB 3 Business Combinations); and

(f)       direct insurance contracts that the entity holds (i.e. direct insurance contracts in which the entity is the policyholder).  However, a cedant shall apply this Standard to reinsurance contracts that it holds.

5         For ease of reference, this Standard describes any entity that issues an insurance contract as an insurer, whether or not the issuer is regarded as an insurer for legal or supervisory purposes.

6         A reinsurance contract is a type of insurance contract.  Accordingly, all references in this Standard to insurance contracts also apply to reinsurance contracts.

Aus6.1          This Standard applies to fixed-fee service contracts, described in paragraphs B6 and B7, which meet the definition of an insurance contract under this Standard.

Embedded derivatives

7         AASB 139 requires an entity to separate some embedded derivatives from their host contract, measure them at fair value and include changes in their fair value in profit or loss.  AASB 139 applies to derivatives embedded in an insurance contract unless the embedded derivative is itself an insurance contract. 

8         As an exception to the requirement in AASB 139, an insurer need not separate, and measure at fair value, a policyholder’s option to surrender an insurance contract for a fixed amount (or for an amount based on a fixed amount and an interest rate), even if the exercise price differs from the carrying amount of the host insurance liability.  However, the requirement in AASB 139 does apply to a put option or cash surrender option embedded in an insurance contract if the surrender value varies in response to the change in a financial variable (such as an equity or commodity price or index), or a non-financial variable that is not specific to a party to the contract.  Furthermore, that requirement also applies if the holder’s ability to exercise a put option or cash surrender option is triggered by a change in such a variable (for example, a put option that can be exercised if a stock market index reaches a specified level).

9         Paragraph 8 applies equally to options to surrender a financial instrument containing a discretionary participation feature. 

Unbundling of deposit components

10       Some insurance contracts contain both an insurance component and a deposit component.  In some cases, an insurer is required or permitted to unbundle those components:

(a)       unbundling is required if both the following conditions are met:

(i)        the insurer can measure the deposit component (including any embedded surrender options) separately (i.e. without considering the insurance component); and

(ii)       the insurer’s accounting policies do not otherwise require it to recognise all obligations and rights arising from the deposit component;

(b)      unbundling is permitted, but not required, if the insurer can measure the deposit component separately as in (a)(i) but its accounting policies require it to recognise all obligations and rights arising from the deposit component, regardless of the basis used to measure those rights and obligations; and

(c)       unbundling is prohibited if an insurer cannot measure the deposit component separately as in (a)(i).

11       The following is an example of a case when an insurer’s accounting policies do not require it to recognise all obligations arising from a deposit component.  A cedant receives compensation for losses from a reinsurer, but the contract obliges the cedant to repay the compensation in future years.  That obligation arises from a deposit component.  If the cedant’s accounting policies would otherwise permit it to recognise the compensation as income without recognising the resulting obligation, unbundling is required.

12       To unbundle a contract, an insurer shall:

(a)       apply this Standard to the insurance component; and

(b)      apply AASB 139 to the deposit component. 

Recognition and Measurement

Temporary exemption from some other Australian Accounting Standards

13       Paragraphs 10-12 of AASB 108 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors specify criteria for an entity to use in developing an accounting policy if no Standard applies specifically to an item.  However, this Standard exempts an insurer from applying those criteria to its accounting policies for:

(a)       insurance contracts that it issues (including related acquisition costs and related intangible assets, such as those described in paragraphs 31 and 32); and

(b)      reinsurance contracts that it holds.

14       Nevertheless, this Standard does not exempt an insurer from some implications of the criteria in paragraphs 10-12 of AASB 108.  Specifically, an insurer:

(a)       shall not recognise as a liability any provisions for possible future claims, if those claims arise under insurance contracts that are not in existence at the end of the reporting period (such as catastrophe provisions and equalisation provisions);

(b)      shall carry out the liability adequacy test described in paragraphs 15-19;

(c)       shall remove an insurance liability (or a part of an insurance liability) from its statement of financial position when, and only when, it is extinguished – that is, when the obligation specified in the contract is discharged or cancelled or expires;

(d)      shall not offset:

(i)        reinsurance assets against the related insurance liabilities; or

(ii)       income or expense from reinsurance contracts against the expense or income from the related insurance contracts; and

(e)       shall consider whether its reinsurance assets are impaired (see paragraph 20).

Liability adequacy test

15       An insurer shall assess at the end of each reporting period whether its recognised insurance liabilities are adequate, using current estimates of future cash flows under its insurance contracts.  If that assessment shows that the carrying amount of its insurance liabilities (less related deferred acquisition costs and related intangible assets, such as those discussed in paragraphs 31 and 32) is inadequate in the light of the estimated future cash flows, the entire deficiency shall be recognised in profit or loss. 

16       If an insurer applies a liability adequacy test that meets specified minimum requirements, this Standard imposes no further requirements.  The minimum requirements are the following:

(a)       the test considers current estimates of all contractual cash flows, and of related cash flows such as claims handling costs, as well as cash flows resulting from embedded options and guarantees; and

(b)      if the test shows that the liability is inadequate, the entire deficiency is recognised in profit or loss. 

17       If an insurer’s accounting policies do not require a liability adequacy test that meets the minimum requirements of paragraph 16, the insurer shall:

(a)       determine the carrying amount of the relevant insurance liabilities[1] less the carrying amount of:

(i)        any related deferred acquisition costs; and

(ii)       any related intangible assets, such as those acquired in a business combination or portfolio transfer (see paragraphs 31 and 32).  However, related reinsurance assets are not considered because an insurer accounts for them separately (see paragraph 20).

(b)      determine whether the amount described in (a) is less than the carrying amount that would be required if the relevant insurance liabilities were within the scope of AASB 137.  If it is less, the insurer shall recognise the entire difference in profit or loss and decrease the carrying amount of the related deferred acquisition costs or related intangible assets or increase the carrying amount of the relevant insurance liabilities.

18       If an insurer’s liability adequacy test meets the minimum requirements of paragraph 16, the test is applied at the level of aggregation specified in that test.  If its liability adequacy test does not meet those minimum requirements, the comparison described in paragraph 17 shall be made at the level of a portfolio of contracts that are subject to broadly similar risks and managed together as a single portfolio.

19       The amount described in paragraph 17(b) (i.e. the result of applying AASB 137) shall reflect future investment margins (see paragraphs 27‑29) if, and only if, the amount described in paragraph 17(a) also reflects those margins.

Impairment of reinsurance assets

20       If a cedant’s reinsurance asset is impaired, the cedant shall reduce its carrying amount accordingly and recognise that impairment loss in profit or loss.  A reinsurance asset is impaired if, and only if:

(a)       there is objective evidence, as a result of an event that occurred after initial recognition of the reinsurance asset, that the cedant may not receive all amounts due to it under the terms of the contract; and

(b)      that event has a reliably measurable impact on the amounts that the cedant will receive from the reinsurer. 

Changes in accounting policies

21       Paragraphs 22-30 apply both to changes made by an insurer that already applies IFRSs and to changes made by an insurer adopting  Australian equivalents to IFRSs for the first time.

22       An insurer may change its accounting policies for insurance contracts if, and only if, the change makes the financial statements more relevant to the economic decision-making needs of users and no less reliable, or more reliable and no less relevant to those needs.  An insurer shall judge relevance and reliability by the criteria in AASB 108. 

23       To justify changing its accounting policies for insurance contracts, an insurer shall show that the change brings its financial statements closer to meeting the criteria in AASB 108, but the change need not achieve full compliance with those criteria.  The following specific issues are discussed below:

(a)       current interest rates (paragraph 24);

(b)      continuation of existing practices (paragraph 25);

(c)       prudence (paragraph 26);

(d)      future investment margins (paragraphs 27-29); and

(e)       shadow accounting (paragraph 30).

Current market interest rates

24       An insurer is permitted, but not required, to change its accounting policies so that it remeasures designated insurance liabilities[2] to reflect current market interest rates and recognises changes in those liabilities in profit or loss.  At that time, it may also introduce accounting policies that require other current estimates and assumptions for the designated liabilities.  The election in this paragraph permits an insurer to change its accounting policies for designated liabilities, without applying those policies consistently to all similar liabilities as AASB 108 would otherwise require.  If an insurer designates liabilities for this election, it shall continue to apply current market interest rates (and, if applicable, the other current estimates and assumptions) consistently in all periods to all these liabilities until they are extinguished.

Continuation of existing practices

25       An insurer may continue the following practices, but the introduction of any of them does not satisfy paragraph 22:

(a)       measuring insurance liabilities on an undiscounted basis;

(b)      measuring contractual rights to future investment management fees at an amount that exceeds their fair value as implied by a comparison with current fees charged by other market participants for similar services.  It is likely that the fair value at inception of those contractual rights equals the origination costs paid, unless future investment management fees and related costs are out of line with market comparables; and

(c)       using non-uniform accounting policies for the insurance contracts (and related deferred acquisition costs and related intangible assets, if any) of subsidiaries, except as permitted by paragraph 24.  If those accounting policies are not uniform, an insurer may change them if the change does not make the accounting policies more diverse and also satisfies the other requirements in this Standard.

Prudence

26       An insurer need not change its accounting policies for insurance contracts to eliminate excessive prudence.  However, if an insurer already measures its insurance contracts with sufficient prudence, it shall not introduce additional prudence.

Future investment margins

27       An insurer need not change its accounting policies for insurance contracts to eliminate future investment margins.  However, there is a rebuttable presumption that an insurer’s financial statements will become less relevant and reliable if it introduces an accounting policy that reflects future investment margins in the measurement of insurance contracts, unless those margins affect the contractual payments.  Two examples of accounting policies that reflect those margins are:

(a)       using a discount rate that reflects the estimated return on the insurer’s assets; or

(b)      projecting the returns on those assets at an estimated rate of return, discounting those projected returns at a different rate and including the result in the measurement of the liability.

28       An insurer may overcome the rebuttable presumption described in paragraph 27 if, and only if, the other components of a change in accounting policies increase the relevance and reliability of its financial statements sufficiently to outweigh the decrease in relevance and reliability caused by the inclusion of future investment margins.  For example, suppose that an insurer’s existing accounting policies for insurance contracts involve excessively prudent assumptions set at inception and a discount rate prescribed by a regulator without direct reference to market conditions, and ignore some embedded options and guarantees.  The insurer might make its financial statements more relevant and no less reliable by switching to a comprehensive investor-oriented basis of accounting that is widely used and involves:

(a)       current estimates and assumptions;

(b)      a reasonable (but not excessively prudent) adjustment to reflect risk and uncertainty;

(c)       measurements that reflect both the intrinsic value and time value of embedded options and guarantees; and

(d)      a current market discount rate, even if that discount rate reflects the estimated return on the insurer’s assets. 

29       In some measurement approaches, the discount rate is used to determine the present value of a future profit margin.  That profit margin is then attributed to different periods using a formula.  In those approaches, the discount rate affects the measurement of the liability only indirectly.  In particular, the use of a less appropriate discount rate has a limited or no effect on the measurement of the liability at inception.  However, in other approaches, the discount rate determines the measurement of the liability directly.  In the latter case, because the introduction of an asset-based discount rate has a more significant effect, it is highly unlikely that an insurer could overcome the rebuttable presumption described in paragraph 27.

Shadow accounting

30       In some accounting models, realised gains or losses on an insurer’s assets have a direct effect on the measurement of some or all of (a) its insurance liabilities, (b) related deferred acquisition costs and (c) related intangible assets, such as those described in paragraphs 31 and 32.  An insurer is permitted, but not required, to change its accounting policies so that a recognised but unrealised gain or loss on an asset affects those measurements in the same way that a realised gain or loss does.  The related adjustment to the insurance liability (or deferred acquisition costs or intangible assets) shall be recognised in other comprehensive income if, and only if, the unrealised gains or losses are recognised in other comprehensive income.  This practice is sometimes described as ‘shadow accounting’.

Insurance contracts acquired in a business combination or portfolio transfer

31       To comply with AASB 3, an insurer shall, at the acquisition date, measure at fair value the insurance liabilities assumed and insurance assets acquired in a business combination.  However, an insurer is permitted, but not required, to use an expanded presentation that splits the fair value of acquired insurance contracts into two components:

(a)       a liability measured in accordance with the insurer’s accounting policies for insurance contracts that it issues; and

(b)      an intangible asset, representing the difference between (i) the fair value of the contractual insurance rights acquired and insurance obligations assumed and (ii) the amount described in (a).  The subsequent measurement of this asset shall be consistent with the measurement of the related insurance liability.

32       An insurer acquiring a portfolio of insurance contracts may use the expanded presentation described in paragraph 31.

33       The intangible assets described in paragraphs 31 and 32 are excluded from the scope of AASB 136 Impairment of Assets and from the scope of AASB 138 in respect of recognition and measurement.  However, AASB 136 and AASB 138 apply to customer lists and customer relationships reflecting the expectation of future contracts that are not part of the contractual insurance rights and contractual insurance obligations that existed at the date of a business combination or portfolio transfer.

Discretionary participation features

Discretionary participation features in insurance contracts

34       Some insurance contracts contain a discretionary participation feature as well as a guaranteed element.  The issuer of such a contract:

(a)       may, but need not, recognise the guaranteed element separately from the discretionary participation feature.  If the issuer does not recognise them separately, it shall classify the whole contract as a liability.  If the issuer classifies them separately, it shall classify the guaranteed element as a liability;

(b)      shall, if it recognises the discretionary participation feature separately from the guaranteed element, classify that feature as either a liability or a separate component of equity.  This Standard does not specify how the issuer determines whether that feature is a liability or equity.  The issuer may split that feature into liability and equity components and shall use a consistent accounting policy for that split.  The issuer shall not classify that feature as an intermediate category that is neither liability nor equity;

(c)       may recognise all premiums received as revenue without separating any portion that relates to the equity component.  The resulting changes in the guaranteed element and in the portion of the discretionary participation feature classified as a liability shall be recognised in profit or loss.  If part or all of the discretionary participation feature is classified in equity, a portion of profit or loss may be attributable to that feature (in the same way that a portion may be attributable to non-controlling interests).  The issuer shall recognise the portion of profit or loss attributable to any equity component of a discretionary participation feature as an allocation of profit or loss, not as expense or income (see AASB 101 Presentation of Financial Statements);

(d)      shall, if the contract contains an embedded derivative within the scope of AASB 139, apply AASB 139 to that embedded derivative; and

(e)       shall, in all respects not described in paragraphs 14-20 and 34(a)(d), continue its existing accounting policies for such contracts, unless it changes those accounting policies in a way that complies with paragraphs 21-30.

Discretionary participation features in financial instruments

35       The requirements in paragraph 34 also apply to a financial instrument that contains a discretionary participation feature.  In addition:

(a)       if the issuer classifies the entire discretionary participation feature as a liability, it shall apply the liability adequacy test in paragraphs 15-19 to the whole contract (i.e. both the guaranteed element and the discretionary participation feature).  The issuer need not determine the amount that would result from applying AASB 139 to the guaranteed element;

(b)      if the issuer classifies part or all of that feature as a separate component of equity, the liability recognised for the whole contract shall not be less than the amount that would result from applying AASB 139 to the guaranteed element.  That amount shall include the intrinsic value of an option to surrender the contract, but need not include its time value if paragraph 9 exempts that option from measurement at fair value.  The issuer need not disclose the amount that would result from applying AASB 139 to the guaranteed element, nor need it present that amount separately.  Furthermore, the issuer need not determine that amount if the total liability recognised is clearly higher; and

(c)       although these contracts are financial instruments, the issuer may continue to recognise the premiums for those contracts as revenue and recognise as an expense the resulting increase in the carrying amount of the liability; and

(d)      although these contracts are financial instruments, an issuer applying paragraph 20(b) of AASB 7 to contracts with a discretionary participation feature shall disclose the total interest expense recognised in profit or loss, but need not calculate such interest expense using the effective interest method.

Disclosure

Explanation of recognised amounts

36       An insurer shall disclose information that identifies and explains the amounts in its financial statements arising from insurance contracts.

37       To comply with paragraph 36, an insurer shall disclose:

(a)       its accounting policies for insurance contracts and related assets, liabilities, income and expense;

(b)      the recognised assets, liabilities, income and expense (and, if it presents its statement of cash flows using the direct method, cash flows) arising from insurance contracts.  Furthermore, if the insurer is a cedant, it shall disclose:

(i)        gains and losses recognised in profit or loss on buying reinsurance; and

(ii)       if the cedant defers and amortises gains and losses arising on buying reinsurance, the amortisation for the period and the amounts remaining unamortised at the beginning and end of the period;

(c)       the process used to determine the assumptions that have the greatest effect on the measurement of the recognised amounts described in (b).  When practicable, an insurer shall also give quantified disclosure of those assumptions;

(d)      the effect of changes in assumptions used to measure insurance assets and insurance liabilities, showing separately the effect of each change that has a material effect on the financial statements; and

(e)       reconciliations of changes in insurance liabilities, reinsurance assets and, if any, related deferred acquisition costs.

Nature and extent of risks arising from insurance contracts

38       An insurer shall disclose information that enables users of its financial statements to evaluate the nature and extent of risks arising from insurance contracts.

39       To comply with paragraph 38, an insurer shall disclose:

(a)       its objectives, policies and processes for managing risks arising from insurance contracts and the methods used to manage those risks;

(b)      [deleted by the IASB];

(c)       information about insurance risk (both before and after risk mitigation by reinsurance), including information about:

(i)        sensitivity to insurance risk (see paragraph 39A);

(ii)       concentrations of insurance risk, including a description of how management determines concentrations and a description of the shared characteristics that identifies each concentration (e.g. type of insured event, geographical area, or currency); and

(iii)      actual claims compared with previous estimates (i.e. claims development).  The disclosure about claims development shall go back to the period when the earliest material claim arose for which there is still uncertainty about the amount and timing of the claims payments, but need not go back more than ten years.  An insurer need not disclose this information for claims for which uncertainty about the amount and timing of claims payments is typically resolved within one year;

(d)      information about credit risk, liquidity risk and market risk that paragraphs 31-42 of AASB 7 would require if the insurance contracts were within the scope of AASB 7.  However:

(i)      an insurer need not provide the maturity analyses required by paragraphs 39(a) and (b) of AASB 7 if it discloses information about the estimated timing of the net cash outflows resulting from recognised insurance liabilities instead.  This may take the form of an analysis, by estimated timing, of the amounts recognised in the statement of financial position; and

(ii)     if an insurer uses an alternative method to manage sensitivity to market conditions, such as an embedded value analysis, it may use that sensitivity analysis to meet the requirement in paragraph 40(a) of AASB 7.  Such an insurer shall also provide the disclosures required by paragraph 41 of AASB 7; and

(e)       information about exposures to market risk arising from embedded derivatives contained in a host insurance contract if the insurer is not required to, and does not, measure the embedded derivatives at fair value. 

39A    To comply with paragraph 39(c)(i), an insurer shall disclose either (a) or (b) as follows:

(a)       a sensitivity analysis that shows how profit or loss and equity would have been affected if changes in the relevant risk variable that were reasonably possible at the end of the reporting period had occurred; the methods and assumptions used in preparing the sensitivity analysis; and any changes from the previous period in the methods and assumptions used.  However, if an insurer uses an alternative method to manage sensitivity to market conditions, such as an embedded value analysis, it may meet this requirement by disclosing that alternative sensitivity analysis and the disclosures required by paragraph 41 of AASB 7; and

(b)      qualitative information about sensitivity, and information about those terms and conditions of insurance contracts that have a material effect on the amount, timing and uncertainty of the insurer’s future cash flows.

Effective Date and Transition

40       The transitional provisions in paragraphs 42-45 apply both to an entity that is already applying IFRSs when it first applies this Standard and to an entity that applies Australian equivalents to IFRSs for the first-time (a first-time adopter).

41       [Deleted by the AASB]

41A    [Deleted by the AASB]

41B     [Deleted by the AASB]

Disclosure

42       An entity need not apply the disclosure requirements in this Standard to comparative information that relates to annual periods beginning before 1 January 2005, except for the disclosures required by paragraph 37(a) and (b) about accounting policies, and recognised assets, liabilities, income and expense and cash flows.

43       Where an entity applies the disclosure requirements in this Standard to comparative information that relates to annual periods beginning before 1 January 2005, if it is impracticable to apply a particular requirement of paragraphs 10-35 to comparative information that relates to annual periods beginning before 1 January 2005, an entity shall disclose that fact.  Applying the liability adequacy test (paragraphs 15-19) to such comparative information might sometimes be impracticable, but it is highly unlikely to be impracticable to apply other requirements of paragraphs 10-35 to such comparative information.  AASB 108 explains the term ‘impracticable’. 

44       In applying paragraph 39(c)(iii), an entity need not disclose information about claims development that occurred earlier than five years before the end of the first annual reporting period in which it applies this Standard.  Furthermore, if it is impracticable, when an entity first applies this Standard, to prepare information about claims development that occurred before the beginning of the earliest period for which an entity presents full comparative information that complies with this Standard, the entity shall disclose that fact.

Redesignation of financial assets

45       When an insurer changes its accounting policies for insurance liabilities, it is permitted, but not required, to reclassify some or all of its financial assets as ‘at fair value through profit or loss’.  This reclassification is permitted if an insurer changes accounting policies when it first applies this Standard and if it makes a subsequent policy change permitted by paragraph 22.  The reclassification is a change in accounting policy and AASB 108 applies.

 


Appendix A

Defined terms

This appendix is an integral part of AASB 4.

cedant

The policyholder under a reinsurance contract.

deposit component

A contractual component that is not accounted for as a derivative under AASB 139 and would be within the scope of AASB 139 if it were a separate instrument.

direct insurance contract

An insurance contract that is not a reinsurance contract

discretionary participation feature

A contractual right to receive, as a supplement to guaranteed benefits, additional benefits:

(a)       that are likely to be a significant portion of the total contractual benefits;

(b)      whose amount or timing is contractually at the discretion of the issuer; and

(c)       that are contractually based on:

 

(i)        the performance of a specified pool of contracts or a specified type of contract;

(ii)       realised and/or unrealised investment returns on a specified pool of assets held by the issuer; or

(iii)      the profit or loss of the company, fund or other entity that issues the contract.

fair value

The amount for which an asset could be exchanged, or a liability settled, between knowledgeable, willing parties in an arm’s length transaction.

financial guarantee contract

A contract that requires the issuer to make specified payments to reimburse the holder for a loss it incurs because a specified debtor fails to make payment when due in accordance with the original or modified terms of a debt instrument.

financial risk

The risk of a possible future change in one or more of a specified interest rate, financial instrument price, commodity price, foreign exchange rate, index of prices or rates, credit rating or credit index or other variable, provided in the case of a non-financial variable that the variable is not specific to a party to the contract.

guaranteed benefits

Payments or other benefits to which a particular policyholder or investor has an unconditional right that is not subject to the contractual discretion of the issuer.

guaranteed element

An obligation to pay guaranteed benefits, included in a contract that contains a discretionary participation feature.

insurance asset

An insurer’s net contractual rights under an insurance contract.

insurance contract

A contract under which one party (the insurer) accepts significant insurance risk from another party (the policyholder) by agreeing to compensate the policyholder if a specified uncertain future event (the insured event) adversely affects the policyholder.  (See Appendix B for guidance on this definition.)

insurance liability

An insurer’s net contractual obligations under an insurance contract.

insurance risk

Risk, other than financial risk, transferred from the holder of a contract to the issuer.

insured event

An uncertain future event that is covered by an insurance contract and creates insurance risk.

insurer

The party that has an obligation under an insurance contract to compensate a policyholder if an insured event occurs.

liability adequacy test

An assessment of whether the carrying amount of an insurance liability needs to be increased (or the carrying amount of related deferred acquisition costs or related intangible assets decreased), based on a review of future cash flows.

policyholder

A party that has a right to compensation under an insurance contract if an insured event occurs.

reinsurance assets

A cedant’s net contractual rights under a reinsurance contract.

reinsurance contract

An insurance contract issued by one insurer (the reinsurer) to compensate another insurer (the cedant) for losses on one or more contracts issued by the cedant.

reinsurer

The party that has an obligation under a reinsurance contract to compensate a cedant if an insured event occurs.

unbundle

Account for the components of a contract as if they were separate contracts.

 

Additional Australian Defined Terms

 

general insurance contract

An insurance contract that is not a life insurance contract.

life insurance contract

An insurance contract, or a financial instrument with a discretionary participation feature, regulated under the Life Insurance Act 1995, and similar contracts issued by entities operating outside Australia. 

 

 


Appendix B

Definition of an insurance contract

This appendix is an integral part of AASB 4.

B1       This appendix gives guidance on the definition of an insurance contract in Appendix A.  It addresses the following issues:

(a)       the term ‘uncertain future event’ (paragraphs B2-B4);

(b)      payments in kind (paragraphs B5-B7);

(c)       insurance risk and other risks (paragraphs B8-B17);

(d)      examples of insurance contracts (paragraphs B18-B21);

(e)       significant insurance risk (paragraphs B22-B28); and

(f)       changes in the level of insurance risk (paragraphs B29 and B30).

Uncertain future event

B2       Uncertainty (or risk) is the essence of an insurance contract.  Accordingly, at least one of the following is uncertain at the inception of an insurance contract:

(a)       whether an insured event will occur;

(b)      when it will occur; or

(c)       how much the insurer will need to pay if it occurs.

B3       In some insurance contracts, the insured event is the discovery of a loss during the term of the contract, even if the loss arises from an event that occurred before the inception of the contract.  In other insurance contracts, the insured event is an event that occurs during the term of the contract, even if the resulting loss is discovered after the end of the contract term.   

B4       Some insurance contracts cover events that have already occurred, but whose financial effect is still uncertain.  An example is a reinsurance contract that covers the direct insurer against adverse development of claims already reported by policyholders.  In such contracts, the insured event is the discovery of the ultimate cost of those claims. 

Payments in kind

B5       Some insurance contracts require or permit payments to be made in kind.  An example is when the insurer replaces a stolen article directly, instead of reimbursing the policyholder.  Another example is when an insurer uses its own hospitals and medical staff to provide medical services covered by the contracts. 

B6       Some fixed-fee service contracts in which the level of service depends on an uncertain event meet the definition of an insurance contract in this Standard but are not regulated as insurance contracts in some countries.  One example is a maintenance contract in which the service provider agrees to repair specified equipment after a malfunction.  The fixed service fee is based on the expected number of malfunctions, but it is uncertain whether a particular machine will break down.  The malfunction of the equipment adversely affects its owner and the contract compensates the owner (in kind, rather than cash).  Another example is a contract for car breakdown services in which the provider agrees, for a fixed annual fee, to provide roadside assistance or tow the car to a nearby garage.  The latter contract could meet the definition of an insurance contract even if the provider does not agree to carry out repairs or replace parts.

B7       Applying the Standard to the contracts described in paragraph B6 is likely to be no more burdensome than applying the Standard that would be applicable if such contracts were outside the scope of this Standard.

(a)       There are unlikely to be material liabilities for malfunctions and breakdowns that have already occurred.

(b)      If AASB 118 Revenue applied, the service provider would recognise revenue by reference to the stage of completion (and subject to other specified criteria).  That approach is also acceptable under this Standard, which permits the service provider (i) to continue it’s existing accounting policies for these contracts unless they involve practices prohibited by paragraph 14 and (ii) to improve its accounting policies if so permitted by paragraphs 22-30. 

(c)       The service provider considers whether the cost of meeting its contractual obligation to provide services exceeds the revenue received in advance.  To do this, it applies the liability adequacy test described in paragraphs 15-19 of this Standard.  If this Standard did not apply to these contracts, the service provider would apply AASB 137 to determine whether the contracts are onerous.

(d)      For these contracts, the disclosure requirements in this Standard are unlikely to add significantly to disclosures required by other Australian Accounting Standards.

Distinction between insurance risk and other risks

B8       The definition of an insurance contract refers to insurance risk, which this Standard defines as risk, other than financial risk, transferred from the holder of a contract to the issuer.  A contract that exposes the issuer to financial risk without significant insurance risk is not an insurance contract.

B9       The definition of financial risk in Appendix A includes a list of financial and non-financial variables.  That list includes non-financial variables that are not specific to a party to the contract, such as an index of earthquake losses in a particular region or an index of temperatures in a particular city.  It excludes non-financial variables that are specific to a party to the contract, such as the occurrence or non-occurrence of a fire that damages or destroys an asset of that party.  Furthermore, the risk of changes in the fair value of a non-financial asset is not a financial risk if the fair value reflects not only changes in market prices for such assets (a financial variable) but also the condition of a specific non-financial asset held by a party to a contract (a non-financial variable).  For example, if a guarantee of the residual value of a specific car exposes the guarantor to the risk of changes in the car’s physical condition, that risk is insurance risk, not financial risk.

B10     Some contracts expose the issuer to financial risk, in addition to significant insurance risk.  For example, many life insurance contracts both guarantee a minimum rate of return to policyholders (creating financial risk) and promise death benefits that at some times significantly exceed the policyholder’s account balance (creating insurance risk in the form of mortality risk).  Such contracts are insurance contracts.

B11     Under some contracts, an insured event triggers the payment of an amount linked to a price index.  Such contracts are insurance contracts, provided the payment that is contingent on the insured event can be significant.  For example, a life-contingent annuity linked to a cost-of-living index transfers insurance risk because payment is triggered by an uncertain event - the survival of the annuitant.  The link to the price index is an embedded derivative, but it also transfers insurance risk.  If the resulting transfer of insurance risk is significant, the embedded derivative meets the definition of an insurance contract, in which case it need not be separated and measured at fair value (see paragraph 7 of this Standard).

B12     The definition of insurance risk refers to risk that the insurer accepts from the policyholder.  In other words, insurance risk is a pre-existing risk transferred from the policyholder to the insurer.  Thus, a new risk created by the contract is not insurance risk. 

B13     The definition of an insurance contract refers to an adverse effect on the policyholder.  The definition does not limit the payment by the insurer to an amount equal to the financial impact of the adverse event.  For example, the definition does not exclude ‘new-for-old’ coverage that pays the policyholder sufficient to permit replacement of a damaged old asset by a new asset.  Similarly, the definition does not limit payment under a term life insurance contract to the financial loss suffered by the deceased’s dependants, nor does it preclude the payment of predetermined amounts to quantify the loss caused by death or an accident. 

B14     Some contracts require a payment if a specified uncertain event occurs, but do not require an adverse effect on the policyholder as a precondition for payment.  Such a contract is not an insurance contract even if the holder uses the contract to mitigate an underlying risk exposure.  For example, if the holder uses a derivative to hedge an underlying non-financial variable that is correlated with cash flows from an asset of the entity, the derivative is not an insurance contract because payment is not conditional on whether the holder is adversely affected by a reduction in the cash flows from the asset.  Conversely, the definition of an insurance contract refers to an uncertain event for which an adverse effect on the policyholder is a contractual precondition for payment.  This contractual precondition does not require the insurer to investigate whether the event actually caused an adverse effect, but permits the insurer to deny payment if it is not satisfied that the event caused an adverse effect.

B15     Lapse or persistency risk (i.e. the risk that the counterparty will cancel the contract earlier or later than the issuer had expected in pricing the contract) is not insurance risk because the payment to the counterparty is not contingent on an uncertain future event that adversely affects the counterparty.  Similarly, expense risk (i.e. the risk of unexpected increases in the administrative costs associated with the servicing of a contract, rather than in costs associated with insured events) is not insurance risk because an unexpected increase in expenses does not adversely affect the counterparty.

B16     Therefore, a contract that exposes the issuer to lapse risk, persistency risk or expense risk is not an insurance contract unless it also exposes the issuer to insurance risk.  However, if the issuer of that contract mitigates that risk by using a second contract to transfer part of that risk to another party, the second contract exposes that other party to insurance risk.

B17     An insurer can accept significant insurance risk from the policyholder only if the insurer is an entity separate from the policyholder.  In the case of a mutual insurer, the mutual accepts risk from each policyholder and pools that risk.  Although policyholders bear that pooled risk collectively in their capacity as owners, the mutual has still accepted the risk that is the essence of an insurance contract.

Examples of insurance contracts

B18     The following are examples of contracts that are insurance contracts, if the transfer of insurance risk is significant:

(a)       insurance against theft or damage to property;

(b)      insurance against product liability, professional liability, civil liability or legal expenses;

(c)       life insurance and prepaid funeral plans (although death is certain, it is uncertain when death will occur or, for some types of life insurance, whether death will occur within the period covered by the insurance);

(d)      life-contingent annuities and pensions (i.e. contracts that provide compensation for the uncertain future event—the survival of the annuitant or pensioner—to assist the annuitant or pensioner in maintaining a given standard of living, which would otherwise be adversely affected by his or her survival);

(e)       disability and medical cover;

(f)       surety bonds, fidelity bonds, performance bonds and bid bonds (i.e. contracts that provide compensation if another party fails to perform a contractual obligation, for example an obligation to construct a building);

(g)      credit insurance that provides for specified payments to be made to reimburse the holder for a loss it incurs because a specified debtor fails to make payment when due under the original or modified terms of a debt instrument.  These contracts could have various legal forms, such as that of a guarantee, some types of letter of credit, a credit derivative default contract or an insurance contract.  However, although these contracts meet the definition of an insurance contract, they also meet the definition of a financial guarantee contract in AASB 139 and are within the scope of AASB 132[3] and AASB 139, not this Standard (see paragraph 4(d)).  Nevertheless, if an issuer of financial guarantee contracts has previously asserted explicitly that it regards such contracts as insurance contracts and has used accounting applicable to insurance contracts, the issuer may elect to apply either AASB 139 and AASB 1321 or AASB 1023 to such financial guarantee contracts;

(h)      product warranties.  Product warranties issued by another party for goods sold by a manufacturer, dealer or retailer are within the scope of this Standard.  However, product warranties issued directly by a manufacturer, dealer or retailer are outside its scope, because they are within the scope of AASB 118 and AASB 137;

(i)        title insurance (i.e. insurance against the discovery of defects in title to land that were not apparent when the insurance contract was written).  In this case, the insured event is the discovery of a defect in the title, not the defect itself;

(j)        travel assistance (i.e. compensation in cash or in kind to policyholders for losses suffered while they are travelling).  Paragraphs B6 and B7 discuss some contracts of this kind;

(k)       catastrophe bonds that provide for reduced payments of principal, interest or both if a specified event adversely affects the issuer of the bond (unless the specified event does not create significant insurance risk, for example if the event is a change in an interest rate or foreign exchange rate);

(l)        insurance swaps and other contracts that require a payment based on changes in climatic, geological or other physical variables that are specific to a party to the contract; and

(m)      reinsurance contracts.

B19     The following are examples of items that are not insurance contracts:

(a)       investment contracts that have the legal form of an insurance contract but do not expose the insurer to significant insurance risk, for example life insurance contracts in which the insurer bears no significant mortality risk (such contracts are non-insurance financial instruments or service contracts, see paragraphs B20 and B21);

(b)      contracts that have the legal form of insurance, but pass all significant insurance risk back to the policyholder through non-cancellable and enforceable mechanisms that adjust future payments by the policyholder as a direct result of insured losses, for example some financial reinsurance contracts or some group contracts (such contracts are normally noninsurance financial instruments or service contracts, see paragraphs B20 and B21);

(c)       self-insurance, in other words retaining a risk that could have been covered by insurance (there is no insurance contract because there is no agreement with another party);

(d)      contracts (such as gambling contracts) that require a payment if a specified uncertain future event occurs, but do not require, as a contractual precondition for payment, that the event adversely affects the policyholder.  However, this does not preclude the specification of a predetermined payout to quantify the loss caused by a specified event such as death or an accident (see also paragraph B13);

(e)       derivatives that expose one party to financial risk but not insurance risk, because they require that party to make payment based solely on changes in one or more of a specified interest rate, financial instrument price, commodity price, foreign exchange rate, index of prices or rates, credit rating or credit index or other variable, provided in the case of a non-financial variable that the variable is not specific to a party to the contract (see AASB 139);

(f)       a credit-related guarantee (or letter of credit, credit derivative default contract or credit insurance contract) that requires payments even if the holder has not incurred a loss on the failure of the debtor to make payments when due (see AASB 139);

(g)      contracts that require a payment based on a climatic, geological or other physical variable that is not specific to a party to the contract (commonly described as weather derivatives); and

(h)      catastrophe bonds that provide for reduced payments of principal, interest or both, based on a climatic, geological or other physical variable that is not specific to a party to the contract.

B20     If the contracts described in paragraph B19 create financial assets or financial liabilities, they are within the scope of AASB 139.  Among other things, this means that the parties to the contract use what is sometimes called deposit accounting, which involves the following:

(a)       one party recognises the consideration received as a financial liability, rather than as revenue; and

(b)      the other party recognises the consideration paid as a financial asset, rather than as an expense.

B21     If the contracts described in paragraph B19 do not create financial assets or financial liabilities, AASB 118 applies.  Under AASB 118, revenue associated with a transaction involving the rendering of services is recognised by reference to the stage of completion of the transaction if the outcome of the transaction can be estimated reliably.

Significant insurance risk

B22     A contract is an insurance contract only if it transfers significant insurance risk.  Paragraphs B8-B21 discuss insurance risk.  The following paragraphs discuss the assessment of whether insurance risk is significant. 

B23     Insurance risk is significant if, and only if, an insured event could cause an insurer to pay significant additional benefits in any scenario, excluding scenarios that lack commercial substance (i.e. have no discernible effect on the economics of the transaction).  If significant additional benefits would be payable in scenarios that have commercial substance, the condition in the previous sentence may be met even if the insured event is extremely unlikely or even if the expected (i.e. probability-weighted) present value of contingent cash flows is a small proportion of the expected present value of all the remaining contractual cash flows.

B24     The additional benefits described in paragraph B23 refer to amounts that exceed those that would be payable if no insured event occurred (excluding scenarios that lack commercial substance).  Those additional amounts include claims handling and claims assessment costs, but exclude:

(a)       the loss of the ability to charge the policyholder for future services.  For example, in an investment-linked life insurance contract, the death of the policyholder means that the insurer can no longer perform investment management services and collect a fee for doing so.  However, this economic loss for the insurer does not reflect insurance risk, just as a mutual fund manager does not take on insurance risk in relation to the possible death of the client.  Therefore, the potential loss of future investment management fees is not relevant in assessing how much insurance risk is transferred by a contract;

(b)      waiver on death of charges that would be made on cancellation or surrender.  Because the contract brought those charges into existence, the waiver of these charges does not compensate the policyholder for a pre-existing risk.  Hence, they are not relevant in assessing how much insurance risk is transferred by a contract;

(c)       a payment conditional on an event that does not cause a significant loss to the holder of the contract.  For example, consider a contract that requires the issuer to pay one million currency units if an asset suffers physical damage causing an insignificant economic loss of one currency unit to the holder.  In this contract, the holder transfers to the insurer the insignificant risk of losing one currency unit.  At the same time, the contract creates non-insurance risk that the issuer will need to pay 999,999 currency units if the specified event occurs.  Because the issuer does not accept significant insurance risk from the holder, this contract is not an insurance contract; and

(d)      possible reinsurance recoveries.  The insurer accounts for these separately.

B25     An insurer shall assess the significance of insurance risk contract by contract, rather than by reference to materiality to the financial statements.[4]  Thus, insurance risk may be significant even if there is a minimal probability of material losses for a whole book of contracts.  This contract-by-contract assessment makes it easier to classify a contract as an insurance contract.  However, if a relatively homogeneous book of small contracts is known to consist of contracts that all transfer insurance risk, an insurer need not examine each contract within that book to identify a few non-derivative contracts that transfer insignificant insurance risk.

B26     It follows from paragraphs B23-B25 that if a contract pays a death benefit exceeding the amount payable on survival, the contract is an insurance contract unless the additional death benefit is insignificant (judged by reference to the contract rather than to an entire book of contracts).  As noted in paragraph B24(b), the waiver on death of cancellation or surrender charges is not included in this assessment if this waiver does not compensate the policyholder for a pre-existing risk.  Similarly, an annuity contract that pays out regular sums for the rest of a policyholder’s life is an insurance contract, unless the aggregate life-contingent payments are insignificant.

B27     Paragraph B23 refers to additional benefits.  These additional benefits could include a requirement to pay benefits earlier if the insured event occurs earlier and the payment is not adjusted for the time value of money.  An example is whole life insurance for a fixed amount (in other words, insurance that provides a fixed death benefit whenever the policyholder dies, with no expiry date for the cover).  It is certain that the policyholder will die, but the date of death is uncertain.  The insurer will suffer a loss on those individual contracts for which policyholders die early, even if there is no overall loss on the whole book of contracts. 

B28     If an insurance contract is unbundled into a deposit component and an insurance component, the significance of insurance risk transfer is assessed by reference to the insurance component.  The significance of insurance risk transferred by an embedded derivative is assessed by reference to the embedded derivative. 

Changes in the level of insurance risk

B29     Some contracts do not transfer any insurance risk to the issuer at inception, although they do transfer insurance risk at a later time.  For example, consider a contract that provides a specified investment return and includes an option for the policyholder to use the proceeds of the investment on maturity to buy a life-contingent annuity at the current annuity rates charged by the insurer to other new annuitants when the policyholder exercises the option.  The contract transfers no insurance risk to the issuer until the option is exercised, because the insurer remains free to price the annuity on a basis that reflects the insurance risk transferred to the insurer at that time.  However, if the contract specifies the annuity rates (or a basis for setting the annuity rates), the contract transfers insurance risk to the issuer at inception.

B30     A contract that qualifies as an insurance contract remains an insurance contract until all rights and obligations are extinguished or expire.



[1]      The relevant insurance liabilities are those insurance liabilities (and related deferred acquisition costs and related intangible assets) for which the insurer’s accounting policies do not require a liability adequacy test that meets the minimum requirements of paragraph 16.

[2]      In this paragraph, insurance liabilities include related deferred acquisition costs and related intangible assets, such as those discussed in paragraphs 31 and 32.

[3]      When an entity applies AASB 7, the reference to AASB 132 is replaced by a reference to AASB 7.

[4]    For this purpose, contracts entered into simultaneously with a single counterparty (or contracts that are otherwise interdependent) form a single contract.