The Discretionary Use of Present Value-Based Measurements by Property-Casualty Insurers

By Karen K. NelsonConstance E. BagleyDavid A. AakerV. Padmanabhan
1999| Working Paper No. 1428

This study examines whether the reported loss reserves of property-casualty insurers contain a discretionary discount for the time value of money. The results indicate that there is a positive and significant discount rate implicit in the relation between reported loss reserves and expected future claim payments. Moreover, the estimated discount rate varies predictably with several factors that are expected to influence insurers’ reserving decisions. Finally, the time value discount derived from the analysis of reported loss reserves is significantly associated with an external benchmark, insurance premiums, that reflects the present value of expected future cash outflows. Taken together, the evidence suggest that managers use accounting decretion to report loss reserves that are a relevant and reliable measure of the economic cost of writing property-casualty insurance.