New insurance contracts standard – Introducing IFRS 17

New insurance contracts standard – Introducing IFRS 17

Insight and analysis on the impact of IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts

James Berry

Chief Executive Officer

KPMG in Bermuda

Insurance | IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts | Scout unlocking a door

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 First Impressions: IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts (PDF 1.6MB) will help you assess the impacts and prepare for transition. It explains the key requirements with the use of illustrative examples and features KPMG’s insights.

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.

You can also download a print-friendly version (PDF 539 KB) of this web article.

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

Our First Impressions (PDF 1.6 MB) explains the key requirements of IFRS 17 and features KPMG’s insights. 

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. 

© 2024 KPMG, a group of Bermuda limited liability companies and a member firm of the KPMG global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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