New insurance contracts standard – Introducing IFRS 17

New insurance contracts standard – Introducing IFRS 17

Greater transparency and comparability in the insurance sector are anticipated to result from the long-awaited IFRS 17 which is now published by the IASB. With the biggest impact foreseen for life insurance, a stably growing segment in Bulgaria, the local market will inevitably experience fundamental changes in product design, business models, processes and systems.

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IFRS 17 brings greater comparability and transparency for investors and analysts

The new insurance contracts standard – IFRS 17 – brings fundamental changes to international insurance accounting.

IFRS 17 will give users of financial statements a whole new perspective. The ways in which analysts interpret and compare companies internationally will change. The standard places insurers reporting under IFRS on a level footing, opening up the ‘black box’ of current insurance accounting.

The new standard brings both benefits and challenges for insurers, who will need to gain an understanding of the accounting changes and the impacts on their businesses.

Our SlideShare presentation can help you to understand the requirements and the possible impacts.


"The greater comparability and greater transparency that IFRS 17 provides should be a clear benefit to analysts and users of financial information.” 

Gary Reader,

KPMG’s Global Head of Insurance

What’s new in IFRS 17?

Increased transparency about the profitability of new and in-force business will give users more insight into an insurer’s financial health than ever before.            

  • Separate presentation of underwriting and finance results will provide added transparency about the sources of profits and quality of earnings.               
  • Premium volumes will no longer drive the ‘top line’ as investment components and cash received are no longer considered to be revenue.
  • Accounting for options and guarantees will be more consistent and transparent.

These have the potential to reduce the cost of capital for leading insurers. Greater comparability could facilitate merger and acquisition activity, encourage greater competition for investment capital and help gain the trust of investors.
At the same time, there are likely to be a number of other effects. For example, there could be greater volatility in financial results and equity due to the use of current market discount rates. Insurers may also need to revisit the design of their products and other strategic decisions, such as investment allocation.

Significant but varying impacts

The impact of the new standard will vary significantly between insurance companies. Implementing it will require substantial effort, and new or upgraded systems, processes and controls. 

The task will be even more challenging given the long time horizons over which many insurance companies operate and the legacy systems that many still use.


“There will be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ effect for insurers. But every insurer is certain to see impacts on its reported numbers in one way or another. Their significance will depend on an insurer’s previous accounting policies – which have differed across jurisdictions and, in some cases, even within jurisdictions.”

Joachim Kölschbach,

KPMG’s Global IFRS Insurance Leader


While IFRS 17 represents the biggest accounting change for insurers in many years, the impacts will be felt far beyond accounting, in areas such as finance, actuarial, IT and even the regulatory departments.


“In general, the more insurance products that are offered, and the more jurisdictions that an insurer operates in, the more costly and time-consuming implementation will be – but so too is the potential to benefit from the changes. For the confident, change is opportunity.” 

Mary Trussell,

KPMG’s Global Insurance Accounting Change Leader

Effective date and next steps

IFRS 17 takes effect in January 2021. That may seem a long way off, but the timescale will be a challenge for many. A co-ordinated response will be
essential. Finance, Actuarial and IT functions will need to work closely together like never before.
You need to start the implementation process now. Companies should start with an initial impact assessment, then move onto analysing their insurance contracts for product-by-product impacts.

Find out more

View our SlideShare presentation for a high-level summary of the proposals. If you’re unable to view the presentation online, a PDF version (PDF 264 KB) is available.

A press release is available, and you can also download a print-friendly version (PDF 140 KB) of this web article.

Our First Impressions: IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts will be published soon and will help you assess the potential impact of the new standard on your business. It will explain the key requirements and will feature KPMG’s insights on IFRS 17.

You can also visit our hot topics pages – IFRS – Insurance and Navigating the new world – to find out more about how IFRS 17 will impact your business. 

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