NU Online News Service, March 22, 2004, 6:31 p.m. EST – A major rating agency says U.S. life insurers should post their statutory financial statements and statement supplements on the Web.[@@]

Analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, New York, evaluated 65 company Web sites and found that only 21% of the 34 U.S. public companies included in the study post statutory annual statements on the sites.

None of the 20 privately held U.S. life insurers or 11 U.S. units of foreign public companies posts its statutory annual statement, and none of the 65 companies posts a complete set of its supplemental exhibits and schedule interrogatories, the analysts report.

Statutory statement information is supposed to be public, but, in many cases, investors and others interested in insurer creditworthiness must pay high fees to industry groups, private firms or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., to get the data, the analysts write.

“Given the low cost of making this information available on a company’s Web site, a company is not restricted by cost from doing this,” the analysts write. “It is a willingness to support corporate transparency, not cost, that drives a company’s decision to make this information available on [its Web site].”