AASB 17 is a new accounting standard for insurance contracts. It is based on, and almost identical to the international standard, IFRS 17, issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
It becomes effective for accounting periods starting 1 January 2023 or later, though it may be adopted earlier.
The new standard is quite different in many ways from the current accounting standards for life insurance, general insurance and health insurance in Australia. The standard is complex and there are many challenges in fully understanding its implications and being able to provide definitive guidance.
Information Note (IN)
In late 2016, the Actuaries Institute formed a Task Force to help the profession prepare for the new standard. The Task Force decided to produce an Information Note (IN) as its primary piece of work.
The Task Force completed Version 1.0, a draft for discussion, in March 2018, followed by Versions 1.1 (in July 2018) and 1.2 (in December 2018). In February 2019, Addendum A to Version 1.2 was published. This dealt with changes to IFRS 17 tentatively agreed by the IASB in January and February 2019. Version 1.2 is now redundant.
Amendments to IFRS 17
After the Addendum to Version 1.2 was produced, the IASB Board met on 14 March, 9 April and 15 May 2019 to consider possible amendments to IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts relating to outstanding matters. View the details of the outcomes from these meetings.
On 26 June 2019, the IASB released an exposure draft (ED) dealing with the proposed changes to the Standard. The changes in the ED are largely in-line with the tentative decisions made by the IASB earlier in the year.
View a marked-up version of IFRS 17 showing the ED changes.
View the Basis for Conclusions for the ED.
In November 2019, the Task Force published Version 2.0, which captured changes to the Standard proposed in the ED.
In June 2020, the IASB approved and issued an amended IFRS 17. The amendments are aimed at helping companies implement the standard and making it easier for them to explain their financial performance.
In July 2020, the AASB issued changes to AASB 17, which mirrored the changes that the IASB ultimately made to IFRS 17. The AASB also published amendments to the Basis for Conclusions to IFRS 17 (and to IFRS 4) and amendments to the Illustrative Examples.
IN Version 3.0
Version 3.0 of the IN has now been released (February 2020). The main changes from version 2.0 deal with the amended Standard and where clarity can be provided for matters that in earlier versions of the IN were considered uncertain or where views were still forming.
Here is Version 3.0 of the IN.
For reference, here is Version 2.0 of the IN, here is Version 1.2 of the IN and here is Version 1.1 of the IN.
The Task Force intends to update the IN in the future as accounting interpretations are clarified and members gain more experience with the standard.
It is intended that the IN will be complemented by a new Practice Guideline 4: AASB 17 Insurance Contracts (PG 4), which will be the Australian adoption of International Standard of Actuarial Practice 4: IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts (ISAP 4). Members of the task force are contributing significantly to the drafting of PG 4. Over time, this IN will be updated to include relevant AASB 17 material that is outside the scope of PG 4.
The International Actuarial Association are preparing an International Actuarial Note (IAN) which some time ago released an exposure draft and are seeking comment. Members of the Australian TF have contributed significantly to the development of the IAN. Where appropriate the IN will be adapted in future to be consistent with the IAN.
The Task Force is keen to be given feedback from members as they put the IN to use. To help with this, please use this form and get in touch with Tony Burke who will engage the TF as required.
task force members (AS AT February 2021)
- Brett Pickett (Taskforce Chair, Life Insurance and Wealth Management Practice Committee (LIWMPC) and Accounting & Actuaries Liaison Committee (AALC) representative)
- Abhijit Apte (Reinsurance, general insurance practitioner)
- Anne Driver (AALC representative, Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB(TRG))
- Antony Claughton (Health Practice Committee (HPC) representative)
- Brendan Counsell (Premium Allocation Approach (PAA), Transition, International Actuarial Association (IAA) and the AALC representative)
- Briallen Cummings (Disclosures / OCI, reporting, current estimates and strategic transition)
- David Chan (APRA representative)
- David Rush (Current Estimates, Variable Fee Approach (VFA), Interpretation Uncertainties, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Editorial Committee)
- Francis Beens (Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and General Insurance Practice Committee (GIPC) representative)
- James Barden (AASB staff)
- Jun Oh (APRA)
- Kaise Stephan (General insurance practitioner)
- Matthew G Buckle (Life practitioner, Editorial Committee)
- Peter Craig (APRA)
- Richard Lyon (Life practitioner, discount rates and risk adjustment)
- Timothy Lee (General insurance practitioner, Editorial Committee)
- Trang Duncanson (Analyst Community, Financial Services Council (FSC)
- Victoria Tidmas (General insurance practitioner)
WORKING WITH APRA
The Task Force has set up working groups to consider specific issues of relevance to APRA. These working groups have representation from both APRA and the Task Force. Two working groups are currently operational: one is addressing the Variable Fee Approach (VFA) and another is addressing Reinsurance and Regulatory Reporting. Two additional working groups are no longer operational: one addressing the Risk Adjustment from a general insurance perspective and one addressing regulatory capital from a life insurance perspective.
As noted in the IN, AASB 17 is an accounting standard. The APRA working groups therefore cannot make decisions about the interpretation of AASB 17 but are considering issues that emerge for APRA from the adoption of AASB 17. As an accounting standard, AASB 17 is a legal instrument that is enforceable by ASIC.
There is a list of useful documents and other references in Section 13 of the Information Note (page 202).