6 Principal products.

A significant part of the Group’s business involves the acceptance and management of risk.

A description of the principal products offered by the Group’s segments is outlined below. The Group seeks to manage its exposure to risk through control techniques which ensure that the residual exposures are within acceptable tolerances agreed by the board. The Group’s risk appetite framework and the methods used to monitor risk exposures can be found in the risk management section.

Details of the risks associated with the Group’s principal products and the control techniques used to manage these risks can be found in Notes 7 and 15.

Protection and Annuities

The Group’s Protection and Annuities business comprises annuities, individual and group protection, general insurance products and the businesses in France (LGF) and Netherlands (LGN). The majority of Protection and Annuity products are non-participating contracts and as such profits on this business accrue solely to shareholders.

Annuities

Annuity products provide guaranteed income for a specified time, usually the life of the policyholder, in exchange for a lump sum capital payment. No surrender value is available under any of these products. Immediate and deferred annuity contracts are offered. Immediate annuities provide a regular income stream to the policyholder, purchased with a lump sum investment, where the income stream starts immediately after the purchase. The income stream from a deferred annuity is delayed until a specified future date. Bulk annuities are also offered, where the Group accepts the assets and liabilities of a company pension scheme or a life fund. A small portfolio of immediate annuities has been written as participating business. Some non-participating deferred annuities sold by the Group contain guaranteed cash options, predominantly minimum factors for commuting part of the annuity income into cash at the date of vesting. The value of such guaranteed options are currently immaterial. There is a block of immediate and deferred annuities within the UK non profit business with benefits linked to changes in the RPI or for a minority the CPI, but with contractual maximum or minimum increases. In particular, most of these annuities have a provision that the annuity will not reduce if RPI, or for a minority CPI, becomes negative. The total of such annuities in payment at 31 December 2012 was £301m (2011: £271m). Thus, 1% negative inflation, which was reversed in the following year, would result in a guarantee cost of approximately £3m (2011: £3m). Negative inflation sustained over a longer period would give rise to significantly greater guarantee costs. Some of these guarantee costs have been partially matched through the purchase of negative inflation hedges and limited price indexation swaps.

Deferred annuity contracts

The Group has written some deferred annuity contracts with guaranteed minimum pensions. These options expose the Group to interest rate and longevity risk as the cost would be expected to increase with decreasing interest rates and improved longevity. The market consistent value of these guarantees carried in the balance sheet is £175m (2011: £185m).

Protection business (individual and group)

The Group offers protection products which provide mortality or morbidity benefits. They may include health, disability, critical illness and accident benefits; these additional benefits are commonly provided as supplements to main life policies but can also be sold separately. The benefit amounts would usually be specified in the policy terms. Some sickness benefits cover the policyholder’s mortgage repayments and are linked to the prevailing mortgage interest rates. In addition to these benefits, some contracts may guarantee premium rates, provide guaranteed insurability benefits and offer policyholders conversion options.

General insurance

The Group offers Household and Accident, Sickness and Unemployment (ASU) products:

  • Household. These contracts provide cover in respect of policyholders’ homes, investment properties, contents, personal belongings and incidental liabilities which they may incur as a property owner, occupier and individual. Exposure is normally limited to the rebuilding cost of the home, the replacement cost of belongings and a policy limit in respect of liability claims.
  • Accident, Sickness and Unemployment (ASU). These contracts provide cover in respect of continuing payment liabilities incurred by customers when they are unable to work as a result of accident, sickness or unemployment. They protect predominantly mortgage payments. Exposure is limited to the monthly payment level selected by the customer sufficient to cover the payment and associated costs, up to the duration limit specified in the policy, usually 12 months.

In addition, there are portfolios of Motor Insurance and Domestic Mortgage Indemnity Insurance (DMI) in run off. Since 1993, the DMI contract has included a maximum period of cover of ten years, and a cap on the maximum claim. For business accepted prior to 1993, cover is unlimited and lasts until the insured property is remortgaged or redeemed. During 2012 the Group also commenced the sale of pet insurance products.

Legal & General France (LGF) and Legal & General Netherlands (LGN)

In addition to protection products, LGF and LGN also write savings business.

In LGF this includes unit linked savings, including shares of open ended investment vehicles (SICAVS), risks for which are borne by unit holders of these funds, Euro denominated funds with 100% profit sharing clause and bank based investment accounts.

In LGN this includes unit linked and index linked savings products, bank based investment accounts and corporate pension products.

Certain savings products include an exposure to interest rate and credit risk, managed through an active asset-liability management programme.

Savings

A range of contracts are offered in a variety of different forms to meet customers’ long term savings objectives. Policyholders may choose to include a number of protection benefits within their savings contracts. Typically, any guarantees under the contract would only apply on maturity or earlier death. On certain older contracts there may be provisions guaranteeing surrender benefits. Savings contracts may or may not guarantee policyholders an investment return. The contracts fall into three main types:

  • Non-participating savings, pensions and endowment contracts;
  • Participating savings business, comprising endowment contracts and with-profits bonds;
  • Unit linked savings contracts, unit trusts and collective investment savings products.

Non-participating business is written in the non profit part of the Society Long Term Fund (LTF). Profits accrue solely to shareholders. Participating contracts are supported by the with-profits part of the Society LTF. They offer policyholders the possibility of payment of benefits in addition to those guaranteed by the contract. The amount and timing of the additional benefits (usually called bonuses) are contractually at the discretion of the Group.

For unit linked savings contracts, unit trusts and collective investment savings products, there is a direct link between the investments and the obligations. The financial risk on these contracts is borne by the policyholders and therefore detailed risk disclosures have not been presented in respect of the associated assets and liabilities. Unit linked business is written in the Society LTF. Unit trust and collective investment business is administered by Legal & General (Unit Trust Managers) Limited and Legal & General (Portfolio Management Services) Limited, respectively.

Pensions (individual and corporate)

These are long term savings contracts through which policyholders accumulate pension benefits. Some older contracts contain a basic guaranteed benefit expressed as an amount of pension payable or a guaranteed annuity option. Other options provided by these contracts include an open market option on maturity, early retirement and late retirement. The Group would generally have discretion over the terms on which the latter types of options are offered.

Endowment policies

These contracts provide a lump sum on maturity determined by the addition of annual and final bonuses over the duration of the contract. In addition, the contracts provide a minimum sum assured death benefit.

With-profits bonds

These contracts provide an investment return to the policyholder which is determined by the attribution of regular and final bonuses over the duration of the contract. In addition, the contracts provide a death benefit, typically of 101% of the value of the units allocated to the policyholder.

Participating contracts

Discretionary increases to benefits on participating contracts are allowed in one or both of annual and final bonus form. These bonuses are determined in accordance with the principles outlined in the Group’s PPFM for the management of the with-profits part of the Society LTF. The principles include:

  • The with-profits part of the Society LTF will be managed with the objective of ensuring that its assets are sufficient to meet its liabilities without the need for additional capital;
  • With-profits policies have no expectation of any distribution from the with-profits part of the Society LTF’s inherited estate. The inherited estate is the excess of assets held within the Society LTF over and above the amount required to meet liabilities, including those which arise from the regulatory duty to treat customers fairly in settling discretionary benefits; and
  • Bonus rates will be smoothed so that some of the short term fluctuations in the value of the investments of the with-profits part of the Society LTF and the business results achieved in the with-profits part of the UK LTF are not immediately reflected in payments under with-profits policies.

At 30 June 2005 an assessment was made of the expected cost of guarantees and options to be paid in the future, and funds with the same value to meet these costs were allocated from the capital in the with-profits sub-fund. The value of the funds is regularly assessed and is reduced by the cost of guarantees and options paid since 1 July 2005. At each assessment point, if the value of the funds is lower than the expected cost of guarantees and options, it is possible to make deductions from asset shares to cover the difference. It is intended to limit deductions to no more than 0.75% each year, up to a maximum of 5% per policy.

Following the movement in the expected cost of guarantees and options and the value of the associated funds up to 31 December 2012, and in accordance with the Society’s PPFM, a refund of 0.75% was made to the asset shares. This followed a deduction of 0.75% made in respect of the year to 31 December 2011. In the technical provisions, allowance was also made for future deductions in respect of the expected costs of meeting future guarantees and options not covered by the current year deduction. For policyholders who decide to surrender, a charge will generally be made in respect of the expected cost of guarantees and options not covered by the charge already taken. Some older participating contracts include a guaranteed minimum rate of roll up of the policyholder’s fund up to the date of retirement or maturity.

The distribution of surplus to shareholders depends upon the bonuses declared for the period. Typically, bonus rates are set having regard to investment returns, although the Group has some discretion setting rates and would normally smooth bonuses over time. The volatility of investment returns could impact the fund’s capital position and its ability to pay bonuses. If future investment conditions were less favourable than anticipated, the lower bonus levels resulting would also reduce future distributions to shareholders. Business which is written in the with-profits part of the Society LTF is managed to be self-supporting. The unallocated divisible surplus in the fund would normally be expected to absorb the impact of these investment risks. Only in extreme scenarios, where shareholders were required to provide support to the with-profits part of the Society LTF to meet its liabilities, would these risks affect equity. As part of the 2007 Society LTF restructure, the 1996 Sub-fund (£321m) was merged into the Shareholder Retained Capital (SRC). As a result, Society’s Board of Directors undertook to initially maintain £500m of assets within Society to support the with-profits business. The amount of the commitment reduced to £300m in 2012 and will then gradually reduce to zero over a period not exceeding six years. The Group’s approach to setting bonus rates is designed to treat customers fairly. The approach is set out in the Society’s PPFM for the with-profits part of the Society LTF. In addition, bonus declarations are also affected by FSA regulations relating to Treating Customers Fairly (TCF), which limit the discretion available when setting bonus rates.

Investment management

LGIM offers both active and passive management on either a pooled or segregated basis. Assets are managed on behalf of pension funds, institutional clients, sovereign wealth clients, retail funds and subsidiary companies within the Legal & General Group. The core products are set out below.

Index Fund Management

LGIM provides a diversified range of pooled index funds, providing a wide choice and the ability to pursue specific benchmarks efficiently. In addition, segregated solutions are offered to institutional clients providing large scale customisation against established market capitalisation weighted and alternative indices.

Active Fixed Income and Liquidity Management

A range of pooled and segregated active fixed income funds. The LGIM liquidity funds offers institutional investors seeking an optimal solution for their cash management across a range of core currencies. The fund aims to deliver competitive returns with a high level of diversification, while focusing on capital preservation through portfolios of high quality, liquid assets.

Solution and Liability Driven Investment (LDI)

A wide variety of solutions to help de-risk defined benefit pension schemes and replace them with appropriate defined contribution or workplace savings schemes.

Active Equity

An active equity management business comprising focused teams managing stock selection across different regions.

Property and Venture Capital

A range of pooled or segregated real estate funds to both UK and overseas investors, offered via a mixture of pooled funds, specialist funds and partnerships. The business is based around in-house sector specialists with a dedicated research team. In addition LGIM provides institutional clients with private equity investment funds offered via a partnership structure.

US Protection

Protection business

Protection consists of individual term assurance, which provide death benefits over the medium to long term. The contracts have level premiums for an initial period with premiums set annually thereafter. During the initial period, there is generally an option to convert the contract to a universal life contract. After the initial period, the premium rates are not guaranteed, but cannot exceed the age related guaranteed premium.

Reinsurance is used within the protection businesses to manage exposure to large claims. These practices lead to the establishment of reinsurance assets on the Group’s balance sheet. Within LGA, reinsurance and securitisation is also used to provide regulatory solvency relief (including relief from regulation Triple X (term insurance reserves) and regulation AXXX (universal life reserves)).

Universal life

Universal life contracts written by LGA provide savings and death benefits over the medium to long term. The savings element has a guaranteed minimum growth rate. LGA has exposure to loss in the event that interest rates decrease and it is unable to earn enough on the underlying assets to cover the guaranteed rate. LGA is also exposed to loss should interest rates increase, as the underlying market value of assets will generally fall without a change in the surrender value. The reserves for universal life totalled $679m at 31 December 2012 ($688m at 31 December 2011). The guaranteed interest rates associated with those reserves ranged from 1.5% to 6%, with the majority of the policies having guaranteed rates ranging from 3% to 4% (2011: 3% to 4%).

Annuities

Immediate annuities have similar characteristics as products sold by the Protection and Annuities division. Deferred annuity contracts written by LGA contain a provision that, at maturity, a policyholder may move the account value into an immediate annuity, at rates which are either those currently in effect, or rates guaranteed in the contract. The reserves for immediate annuities and deferred annuities totalled $12m and $195m respectively at 31 December 2012 ($12m and $200m at 31 December 2011 respectively).