In the consolidated financial statement it is to some extent necessary to make estimates and assumptions which affect the assets and liabilities shown in the balance sheet, the information on contingent claims and liabilities as at the balance sheet date and the disclosure of income and expenses during the reporting period. Key facts and circumstances subject to such assumptions and estimates include, for example, the recoverability of contingent reinsurance liabilities, the recoverability of investments in associated companies, the valuation of derivative financial instruments as well as assets and liabilities relating to employee benefits. The actual amounts may diverge from the estimated amounts.
Supplementary or complete estimates of the corresponding profit and loss items, assets and liabilities including relevant retrocessions are made where ceding company accounts with substantial premium income are missing. Missing ceding company accounts with a low premium volume are included in the following year.
In order to measure the ultimate liability in property and casualty reinsurance the expected ultimate loss ratios are calculated for all lines. Actuarial methods such as the “chain ladder” method provide the starting point for these calculations. The realistically estimated future settlement amount is recognised in the balance sheet. The development until completion of the run-off is projected on the basis of statistical triangles from the original notifications of ceding companies. The more recent underwriting years in actuarial projections are of course subject to greater uncertainty, although this can be considerably reduced with the aid of a variety of additional information on improvements in the rates and conditions of the business written and on loss trends. The amounts arrived at as the difference between the ultimate losses and the reported losses are set aside as the IBNR reserve for losses that have been incurred but are not yet known or have still to be reported. In applying statistical methods, separate consideration is given to large losses.
By analysing a broad range of observable information it is possible to classify losses as major individual loss events. Measurement of the obligations existing in this connection is carried out using a separate process, which is based largely on contract- specific estimates.
For further details, for example concerning the modelling of natural catastrophe scenarios and the assumptions relating to asbestos and pollution risks, the reader is referred to our comments in the risk report. We would further refer to our explanatory remarks on the technical reserves in section 3.2 “Summary of major accounting policies” and section 6.7 “Technical provisions” .
In life business, too, the calculation of reserves and assets is crucially dependent on actuarial projections of the covered business. So-called model points are defined according to the type of business covered. The main distinguishing criteria are the age, sex and (non-)smoker status of the insured, tariff, policy period, period of premium payment and amount of insurance. The portfolio development is simulated for each model point, in which regard the key input parameters are either predefined by the tariff (e. g. allowance for costs, amount of premium, actuarial interest rate) or need to be estimated (e. g. mortality or disability rates, lapse rates). These assumptions are heavily dependent on country-specific parameters and on the sales channel, quality of the cedant’s underwriting and claims handling, type of reinsurance and other framework conditions of the reinsurance treaty. The superimposition of numerous model points gives rise to a projection, which incorporates inter alia assumptions concerning the portfolio composition and the commencement of covered policies within the year. Such assumptions are estimated at the inception of a reinsurance treaty and subsequently adjusted to the actual projection.
The projections, which cover various model scenarios (“conservative assumptions” versus “best estimate”), constitute the starting point for numerous areas of application encompassing quotation, the determination of carrying amounts and embedded values as well as contract-specific analyses, e. g. regarding the appropriateness of the recognised reinsurance liabilities (“liability adequacy test”). In this context we would refer the reader to our comments on technical assets and provisions in section 3.2 “Summary of major accounting policies” and on the liability adequacy tests in section 6.7 “Technical provisions”.
In determining the carrying amounts for certain financial assets it is sometimes necessary to make assumptions in order to calculate fair values. In this regard we would refer the reader to our remarks in section 3.2 “Summary of major accounting policies” concerning financial assets at fair value through profit or loss and securities held as available for sale as well as in section 6.1 “Investments under own management” concerning investment property. Assumptions concerning the appropriate applicability criteria are necessary when determining the need for impairments on non-monetary financial assets held as available for sale. In this regard we would again refer the reader to our explanatory remarks in section 3.2 “Summary of major accounting policies”.