As the industry continues to parse underwriting categories and develop new products, pinpointing mortality will become more critical, say executives at Swiss Re Life & Health America, Stamford, Conn.
Toward that end, building a base of data will become more important, says Weldon Wilson, CEO of Swiss Re Life & Health America.
Part of the key to understanding mortality is examining it from the perspectives of an actuary, underwriter and a medical director, adds Tracy Choka, senior vice president and director of applied research and development with Swiss Re Life & Health America. In effect, this means developing a “collective knowledge.”
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A major question is whether mortality trends will continue to improve.
That is a difficult call, according to Choka, who says the direction is unclear because of both positives and negatives that are turning up.
Some of the positives, Choka says, are improvements in cardiovascular trends as well as the availability of more genetic information.
Another positive is the decline in smoking. The 1975-80 mortality tables indicate a 30% prevalence for smoking, a total that declined to 8-10% in the 1990-95 table.
But, she adds, potential uncertainties regarding mortality may include trends in infectious diseases as well as a greater prevalence toward obesity.