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Analyst Sees Low Industry Risk From Mortgage Exposure

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The U.S. life insurance industry has low exposure to subprime mortgage risks, an industry analyst concludes.

Despite recent stock-market skittishness about high foreclosure rates for residential mortgage-backed securities, life insurers’ likely exposure to further losses “appears marginal,” at least among the 17 companies covered by analyst Andrew Kligerman of UBS Investment Research, New York.

On average, residential mortgage securities for the life group companies compose no more than 13% of invested assets, while mortgage-backed securities in total compose just 15% of investment assets, Kligerman notes.

The relatively risky below-investment-grade exposure, on average, is 4% of the insurers’ average investment portfolio, “indicating that these insurers’ exposure to credit losses appears fairly manageable,” Kligerman says.