Most if not all life and health insurers required to do so appear to have met a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission deadline to file financial statements that had been certified by the companies top executive and financial officers.
The SEC requires these sworn statements from certain publicly traded companies with revenues over $1.2 billion during the last fiscal year.
Of 32 life and health insurers the SEC required to meet the Aug. 14 deadline for filing certified statements, 25 at press time had either filed statements certified by both their chief executive and chief financial officers or said they were about to do so.
Of the remainder, it could not be immediately confirmed that they had complied. It was possible for firms that had not met the deadline to ask for an extension.
In addition, a number of insurers not required to file certified statements had done so, apparently to reassure investors who have been spooked by recent corporate bookkeeping scandals.
In another development aimed at reassuring wary investors, a number of life carriers and other financial service companies recently stated that they will soon begin to account for stock options granted to their executives as an expense rather than a capitalized item on their financial statements.
This is a move long endorsed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, a group that establishes accounting principles for the nations businesses.
On Aug. 13, a trade association representing 18 top U.S. financial firms stated that most of its members would begin to treat stock options as a cost beginning in January 2003, the date set by FASB.
The group, the Financial Services Forum in Washington, says it looks forward to “working with the accounting community and regulators to develop a uniform and accurate way to determine the value of stock options.”
Among those endorsing the statement were the CEOs of Citigroup Inc., New York, parent of Travelers Life and Annuity and Primerica Financial Services; American Express Inc., Minneapolis, parent of IDS Life Insurance Company; MetLife Inc., New York; Prudential Financial, Newark, N.J.; American International Group Inc., New York; and Allstate Insurance Company, Northbook, Ill.
Other companies say they have yet to decide whether or not to expense stock options, although some they have disclosed the information in financial statement footnotes.
Deborah New, a spokeswoman for Anthem Inc., Indianapolis, says her company has no plans to expense stock options formally but does intend to reveal the information voluntarily.
As with a number of companies, executives of Anthem expressed reservations about reporting options as a cost rather than a capital outlay because of the potential for inconsistencies among companies, New notes.