This excerpt taken from the AMP 10-K filed Mar 2, 2009.
Deferred Acquisition Costs ("DAC")
DAC represent the costs of acquiring new business, principally direct sales commissions and other distribution and underwriting costs that have been deferred on the sale of annuity and insurance products and, to a lesser extent, certain mutual fund products. These costs are deferred to the extent they are recoverable from future profits or premiums. The DAC associated with insurance or annuity contracts that are significantly modified or internally replaced with another contract are accounted for as contract terminations. These transactions are anticipated in establishing amortization periods and other valuation assumptions.
Direct sales commissions and other costs deferred as DAC are amortized over time. For annuity and universal life contracts, DAC are amortized based on projections of estimated gross profits over amortization periods equal to the approximate life of the business. For other insurance products, DAC are generally amortized as a percentage of premiums over amortization periods equal to the premium-paying period. For certain mutual fund products, DAC are generally amortized over fixed periods on a straight-line basis adjusted for redemptions.
For annuity and universal life insurance products, the assumptions made in projecting future results and calculating the DAC balance and DAC amortization expense are management's best estimates. Management is required to update these assumptions whenever it appears that, based on actual experience or other evidence, earlier estimates should be revised. When assumptions are changed, the percentage of estimated gross profits used to amortize DAC might also change. A change in the required amortization percentage is applied retrospectively; an increase in amortization percentage will result in a decrease in the DAC balance and an increase in DAC amortization expense, while a decrease in amortization percentage will result in an increase in the DAC balance and a decrease in DAC amortization expense. The impact on results of operations of changing assumptions can be either positive or negative in any particular period and is reflected in the period in which such changes are made.
For other life and health insurance products, the assumptions made in calculating the DAC balance and DAC amortization expense are consistent with those used in determining the liabilities and, therefore, are intended to provide for adverse deviations in experience and are revised only if management concludes experience will be so adverse that DAC is not recoverable. If management concludes that DAC is not recoverable, DAC is reduced to the amount that is recoverable based on best estimate assumptions and there is a corresponding expense recorded in consolidated results of operations.
For annuity, life and health insurance products, key assumptions underlying those long term projections include interest rates (both earning rates on invested assets and rates credited to contractholder and policyholder accounts), equity market performance, mortality and morbidity rates and the rates at which policyholders are expected to surrender their contracts, make withdrawals from their contracts and make additional deposits to their contracts. Assumptions about earned and credited interest rates are the primary factors used to project interest margins, while assumptions about equity and bond market performance are the primary factors used to project client asset value growth rates, and assumptions about surrenders, withdrawals and deposits comprise projected persistency rates. Management must also make assumptions to project maintenance expenses associated with servicing the Company's annuity and insurance businesses during the DAC amortization period.
The client asset value growth rates are the rates at which variable annuity and variable universal life insurance contract values invested in separate accounts are assumed to appreciate in the future. The rates used vary by equity and fixed income investments. Management reviews and, where appropriate, adjusts its assumptions with respect to client asset value growth rates on a regular basis. The Company typically uses a mean reversion process as a guideline in setting near-term equity asset growth rates based on a long-term view of financial market performance as well as recent actual performance. The suggested near- term growth rate is reviewed to ensure consistency with management's assessment of anticipated equity market performance. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the Company decided to constrain near-term equity growth rates below the level suggested by mean reversion. This constraint is based on management's analysis of historical equity returns following downturns in the market. DAC amortization expense recorded in a period when client asset value growth rates exceed management's near-term estimate will typically be less than in a period when growth rates fall short of management's near-term estimate.
The analysis of DAC balances and the corresponding amortization is a dynamic process that considers all relevant factors and assumptions described previously. Unless the Company's management identifies a significant deviation over the course of the quarterly monitoring, management reviews and updates these DAC amortization assumptions annually in the third quarter of each year.
This excerpt taken from the AMP 10-K filed Mar 8, 2006.
Deferred Acquisition Costs (DAC)These represent the costs of acquiring new insurance, annuity and mutual fund business, principally direct sales commissions and other distribution and underwriting costs that have been deferred on the sale of annuity, life and health insurance and, to a lesser extent, auto and home insurance and certain mutual fund products. These costs are deferred to the extent they are recoverable from future profits.