What is insurance expense?


These materials were downloaded from PwC’s Viewpoint (viewpoint.pwc.com) under license. Harold Averkamp (CPA, debt to asset ratio formula MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.

  • For example, even the balance sheet has such alternative names as a “statement of financial position” and “statement of condition.” Balance sheet accounts suffer from this same phenomenon.
  • When you look at these categories, the most important is what the company invests.
  • Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.
  • The same principles for targeting adjacent and riskier spaces hold true for claims businesses.
  • Beyond the balance sheet, you will really benefit if you can track your revenue by line of business (personal lines, commercial lines, life and benefits).

The most difficult to assess are loss reserves for events that have already happened but have not been reported to the insurance company, known as “incurred but not reported” (IBNR). Examples of IBNR losses are cases where workers inhaled asbestos fibers but did not file a claim until their illness was diagnosed 20 or 30 years later. Actuarial estimates of the amounts that will be paid on outstanding claims must be made so that profit on the business can be calculated. Insurers estimate claims costs, including IBNR claims, based on their experience. Reserves are adjusted, with a corresponding impact on earnings, in subsequent years as each case develops and more details become known.

Returns on conservative investment allocations have plummeted below the cost of holding traditional insurance liabilities, and in an environment in which it is cheap to raise capital, life insurers gain competitive advantage from growing high-yield assets. In contrast, the income and cash flow statements reflect a company’s operations for its whole fiscal year—365 days. Given this difference in “time,” when using data from the balance sheet (akin to a photographic snapshot) and the income/cash flow statements (akin to a movie) it is more accurate, and is the practice of analysts, to use an average number for the balance sheet amount. This practice is referred to as “averaging,” and involves taking the year-end (2019 and 2020) figures—let’s say for total assets—and adding them together, and dividing the total by two. This exercise gives us a rough but useful approximation of a balance sheet amount for the whole year 2020, which is what the income statement number, let’s say net income, represents.

In order to maximize profit, insurance companies have to take the premium money they receive and earn the best return they can while still ensuring that money is available to pay claims when necessary. In the past, PE firms have generated value in claims through acquisition—they realized scale efficiencies and expanded to additional products and parts of the value chain. This activity, however, has created dominant players that have left very few attractive acquisition targets in the market. Going forward, PE-backed players can combine continued acquisition with efficiency-focused and value-added services to insurers in the downturn. Further complicating matters, trends and macroeconomic forces, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic, are reshaping the value-creation levers of the past. It has adversely influenced the top line for many product segments and will prolong the persistent low-interest-rate environment, which continues to squeeze insurers’ profitability.

Many available nonpublic entities are either very small or very large, especially in the technology space, and PE investors face increasing competition from other forms of capital. SPAC deal momentum also increased the competition, with several multibillion-dollar announcements since the third quarter of 2020. Back to basicsAn insurer takes money from these three sources of funding (policyholders, creditors, and stock holders) and invests it. If we take Progressive’s float ($6.5 billion), debt ($1.3 billion), and shareholder’s equity ($6.1 billion) we get $13.9 billion — notice this is about equal to Progressive’s $14.3 billion in investments.

Below we offer a simplified overview of how four broad insurance models could respond to organizational goals and investor expectations by using their strengths to differentiate themselves in the industry. The value pools and sources of creation across the life insurance industry are not homogenous. Carriers face choices in products, components of the value chain, and geographies.

Disappointing performance and declining industry relevance

IFRS 4 Insurance Contracts applies, with limited exceptions, to all insurance contracts (including reinsurance contracts) that an entity issues and to reinsurance contracts that it holds. Under the accrual basis of accounting, insurance expense is the cost of insurance that has been incurred, has expired, or has been used up during the current accounting period for the nonmanufacturing functions of a business. This means using off the shelf software like QuickBooks is a bad idea because without considerable customization and lots of hard work, generic systems cannot produce a proper independent insurance agency balance sheet.

  • While much lies ahead on the road to postpandemic normalization, some of last year’s uncertainty has abated, and opportunities abound for the prepared investor.
  • More important, they’ve worked to inspire insurers to consider new avenues for value creation.
  • Insurance companies will often set up balance sheet reserves that equal the value of the claims that have been filed but have not yet been distributed.
  • Balance sheet reserves appear as liabilities on a company’s balance sheet, one of the three main financial statements.

Click here to extend your session to continue reading our licensed content, if not, you will be automatically logged off. Once you have viewed this piece of content, to ensure you can access the content most relevant to you, please confirm your territory. Understand the characteristics of the various lines of business and insurance products and their inherent risks. The good news for companies about such types of insurance is that they can be deducted from tax liability as a business expense.

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An insurance company’s policyholders’ surplus—its assets minus its liabilities—serves as the company’s financial cushion against catastrophic losses and as a way to fund expansion. Regulators require insurers to have sufficient surplus to support the policies they issue. The greater the risks assumed, and hence the greater the potential for claims against the policy, the higher the amount of policyholders’ surplus required. Special accounting standards also evolved for industries with a fiduciary responsibility to the public such as banks and insurance companies. To protect insurance company policyholders, state insurance regulators began to monitor insurance company solvency. As they did, a special insurance accounting standards, known as statutory accounting principles and practices, or SAP, developed.

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The balance sheet provides an overview of the state of a company’s finances at a moment in time. It cannot give a sense of the trends playing out over a longer period on its own. For this reason, the balance sheet should be compared with those of previous periods. Insurance companies are likely to focus on some combination of these themes based on their ownership type and specific owners. Even within the broader classifications of insurers, however, individual insurers will have unique situations—and thus unique expectations.

Different effective dates of IFRS 9 and the new insurance contracts standard

However, reading and understanding their financial statements are a little difficult, so let’s try to break this task down into bite-sized chunks. First we’ll get familiar with the terms and calculations; later on, we’ll see how the statements are linked and flow into each other. When I get a call to help an agency prepare to sell and discover their balance sheets are MIA or junk, I cringe and often procrastinate before advising them of the problem. I especially wince if they hire an accountant or consultant who advises that I am being too detailed because that agency is being taken for a ride. In many cases, the key question is when is it appropriate to recognise the expected proceeds from an insurance claim? To determine this, companies need to consider the nature and timing of the insured event.

A brief review of Apple’s assets shows that their cash on hand decreased, yet their non-current assets increased. The financial statement only captures the financial position of a company on a specific day. Looking at a single balance sheet by itself may make it difficult to extract whether a company is performing well. For example, imagine a company reports $1,000,000 of cash on hand at the end of the month. Without context, a comparative point, knowledge of its previous cash balance, and an understanding of industry operating demands, knowing how much cash on hand a company has yields limited value. As noted above, you can find information about assets, liabilities, and shareholder equity on a company’s balance sheet.

How Balance Sheets Work

In other words, an insurer takes money from policyholders (float) and creditors (debt), and pays out operating expenses, claims and claims expenses, and interest payments. The remainder is left over for the stock holders and taxes — this money is reinvested into investments and increases shareholder’s equity, which increases the value of the insurance company to stock holders. However, if the insurer is taking bad risks it’ll end up owing a lot of claims (if the losses fall to the bottom line, this eats into shareholder’s equity) — the money to pay out claims comes out of float and investments, which is bad.

IAS 39/IFRS 4 – Financial guarantee contracts and credit insurance

Statutory Accounting Principles are designed to 1) ensure consistent reporting among insurers, and 2) assist state insurance departments in the regulation of insurance companies. Therefore, the regulator’s ability to effectively determine relative financial condition using financial statements is of paramount importance to the protection of policyholders. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), the SAP and GAAP accounting standards have distinct differences.