Being good might be good for a life insurer’s bottom line, according to the authors of a study released today.

The study, “The Economic Consequences of Voluntary Quality Certification Programs,” was conducted by Robert Klein and Martin Grace of Georgia State University’s Center for Risk Management and Insurance Research.

The researchers analyzed the economic value of membership in the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association, Bethesda, Md., for insurers that join IMSA.

On average, IMSA member companies have higher ratings, lower costs and more efficient operations, the researchers conclude.

The cost efficiencies include “lower costs of regulatory compliance and lower expenses,” Grace says.

Klein and Grace found that the average insurance financial strength rating of an IMSA member company is about 2 levels higher than the average rating for non-IMSA companies, and that IMSA member companies average a return on equity that is 4% higher than the average for non-IMSA members.

Average legal fees at IMSA member companies are 27% lower than at non-IMSA members, the researchers report.

IMSA is welcoming the publication of the study.

“We are gratified to have statistical support for what we’ve believed for some time,” says IMSA President Brian Atchinson.