SYNOPSIS

European life insurers began disclosing embedded value information (EV) over a decade ago due to concerns with traditional local accounting standards. EV is an estimate of the present value of future net cash flows from in-force life insurance business. However, U.S.-based life insurers have yet to adopt this disclosure, although several surveys and empirical studies suggest that EV disclosure provides valuable information in assessing life insurers' performance.

This paper examines the incremental valuation effects of EV disclosure in the presence of U.S. GAAP. We utilize a sample of cross-listed life insurers as surrogates to assess the valuation effects of EV disclosures for U.S. life insurers. Our empirical results show a higher association between EV and stock market prices than those of traditional accounting metrics such as earnings or book value. The results also show that EV has incremental explanatory power beyond those of traditional U.S. GAAP accounting measures. Our findings provide vital input to FASB and IASB as they currently engage in a joint project to develop uniform globally acceptable, comparable accounting standards for life insurers.

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