Problems with commercial mortgage-backed securities could aggravate life insurers’ investment headaches, a securities analyst says.

Andrew Kligerman, an analyst at UBS Investment Research, New York, looks at fourth-quarter 2008 CMBS exposure in a new research note.

Moody’s Investors Service, New York, has downgraded more than 1,200 CMBS issues, including 130 AAA issues, since Feb. 4, and the conventional wisdom is that any recovery in the commercial mortgage market will lag behind any recovery in the overall economy, Kligerman writes.

Life insurers with more CMBS issued between 2006 and 2008 and CMBS with weaker credit ratings will be the most vulnerable, Kligerman writes.

Exposure to the 2006-2008 CMBS issues amounts to an average of 13% of book value at the life insurers Kligerman tracks, with a range of 1%to 25%.