19 Insurance risk

The group is exposed to insurance risk as a consequence of offering the principal products outlined in Note 7. Insurance risk is the exposure to loss arising from claims experience being different to that anticipated. Detailed below are the risks associated with each of the group’s segments and the associated controls operated.

Principal Risks

Product

Control

Longevity, Mortality and Morbidity Risks

 

 

For contracts providing death benefits, higher mortality rates would lead to an increase in claims costs. The cost of health related claims depends on both the incidence of policyholders becoming ill and the duration over which they remain ill. Higher than expected incidence or duration would increase costs over the level currently assumed in the calculation of liabilities.

Protection

The pricing of protection business is based on assumptions as to future trends in mortality and morbidity having regard to past experience. Underwriting criteria are defined setting out the risks that are unacceptable and the terms for non-standard risks presented by the lives to be insured. Extensive use of reinsurance is made within individual protection business, placing a proportion of all risks meeting prescribed criteria. Mortality and morbidity experience is compared to that assumed within the pricing basis with variances subject to actuarial investigation.

For savings contracts providing minimum assured death benefits, higher mortality rates may result in an increase in claims costs.

Savings

The pricing basis for contracts providing minimum assured death benefits include provision for future trends in mortality based on past experience. The level of mortality risk accepted within each contract is not sufficiently material to warrant formal underwriting at an individual policy level.

Older contracts containing a basic guaranteed benefit expressed as an amount of pension payable or a guaranteed annuity option, expose the group to interest rate and longevity risk. The cost of guarantees increases during periods when interest rates are low or when annuitant mortality improves faster than expected.

Pensions

The ultimate cost of basic guarantees provided on older contracts will depend on the take up rate of any option and the final form of annuity selected by the policyholder. The group has limited ability to control the take up of these options. However, the book of business itself is diminishing in size. As at 31 December 2014 the value of guarantees is estimated to be £50m (31 December 2013: £31m).

For annuity contracts, the group is exposed to the risk that mortality experience is lower than assumed; lower than expected mortality would require payments to be made for longer and increase the cost of benefits provided.

Annuities

Annuity business is priced having regard to trends in improvements in future mortality. Enhanced annuities, which are priced taking account of impairments to life expectancy, are subject to specific underwriting criteria. Certain annuitant mortality risks, including enhanced annuities, are placed with reinsurers. The group regularly reviews its mortality experience and industry projections of longevity and adjusts the pricing and valuation assumptions accordingly.

Persistency Risk

 

 

In the early years of a policy, lapses may result in a loss to the group, as the acquisition costs associated with the contract would not have been recovered from product margins.

Protection and savings

The pricing basis for protection business includes provision for policy lapses. Following the adoption of PS06/14 in 2006 the persistency assumption for non-participating protection business allows for the expected pattern of persistency, adjusted to incorporate a margin for adverse deviation. Actual trends in policy lapse rates are monitored with adverse trends being subject to actuarial investigation.

For insured contracts, terms and conditions typically include surrender deductions to mitigate the risk. In later periods, once the acquisition costs have been recouped, the effect of lapses and surrenders depends upon the relationship between the exit benefit, if any, and the liability for that contract. Exit benefits are not generally guaranteed and the group has some discretion in determining the amount of the payment. As a result, the effect on profit in later periods is expected to be broadly neutral.

Expense Risk

 

 

In pricing long term insurance business, assumptions are made as to the future cost of product servicing. A significant adverse divergence in actual expenses experience could reduce product profitability.

Protection, Savings and Annuities

In determining pricing assumptions, account is taken of changes in price indices and the costs of employment, with stress testing used to evaluate the effect of significant deviations. Actual product servicing costs are monitored relative to the costs assumed with the product pricing basis, with variances investigated.

Concentration (Catastrophe) Risk

 

 

Insurance risk may be concentrated in geographic regions, altering the risk profile of the group. The most significant exposure of this type arises for group protection business, where a single event could result in a large number of related claims.

Group Protection and General
Insurance

Group protection business contracts include an ‘event limit’ capping the total liability under the policy from a single event. Excess of loss reinsurance further mitigates loss from the exposure. For general insurance business, the risk acceptance policy, terms and premiums reflect expected claims and cost associated with a location and avoids adverse selection. Additionally, exposure by location is monitored to ensure there is a geographic spread of risk. Catastrophe reinsurance cover also mitigates loss from concentrations of risk.

Catastrophe (Epidemics)

 

 

The spread of an epidemic could cause large aggregate claims across the group’s portfolio of protection businesses.

Protection

The pricing basis for protection business includes an assessment of potential claims as a result of epidemic risks. Quota share and excess of loss reinsurance contracts are used by individual and group protection, respectively, to further mitigate the risk. Depending on the nature of an epidemic, mortality experience may lead to a reduction in the cost of claims for annuity business.

Weather events

 

 

Significant weather events such as windstorms, and coastal and river floods can lead to higher instance of claims than anticipated.

General
Insurance

The impact of events are mitigated by excess of loss catastrophe treaties, under which the cost of claims from a weather event in excess of an agreed retention level, is recovered from insurers. The reinsurance is designed to protect against a modelled windstorm and coastal flood event with a return probability of 1 in 200 years.

Other Risks

 

 

Subsidence

 

 

The incidence of subsidence can have a significant impact on the level of claims on household policies.

General
Insurance

Underwriting criteria for general insurance business includes assessment of subsidence risk, with an appropriate premium being charged for the risk accepted. Reinsurance arrangements are used to further mitigate the risk.

The financial risks associated with LGIM’s businesses are directly borne by the investors in its funds. Therefore detailed risk disclosures have not been presented. The approach to the management of operational risks, including loss arising from trading errors, breach of fund management guidelines or valuation errors, where a breakdown in controls could lead to successful litigation against the company by one or more clients, is set out in Note 29.

Accumulation of risks

There is limited potential for single incidents to give rise to a large number of claims across the different contract types written by the group. In particular, there is little significant overlap between the long term and short term insurance business written by the group. However, there are potentially material correlations of insurance risk with other types of risk exposure. These correlations are difficult to estimate though they would tend to be more acute as the underlying risk scenarios became more extreme. An example of the accumulation of risk is the correlation between reinsurer credit risk with mortality and morbidity exposures.