IFRS 4: Insurance contracts

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) released International Financial Reporting Standard 4 (IFRS 4) to address the topic of insurance contracts. How should an insurance contract be valued on the financial statements?

What types of information should be disclosed in the notes? These are common questions among the accounting community as insurance contracts can have unique caveats in terms of the way in which benefits are paid out and circumstances in which must happen for these to be reaped. It is for these reasons that the IASB set out to create this standard to clarify the way in which these should be accounted for. This IFRS applies to companies that issue insurance contracts, so that shareholders can understand how much of the company’s financials come from insurance contracts, as well as the amount, timing, and uncertainty of the cash flows associated with them.

IFRS are principles based standards, rather than strict rules based standards that govern international accounting. IFRS standards differ from IAS standards in that they began being introduced in 2001, whereas IAS were produced prior to this date by the IASC, or the International Accounting Standards Committee. Therefore when an IFRS standard and an IAS standard conflict, the IFRS is generally more authoritative due to being more recent.

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