Summary of significant accounting policies
a) Basis of presentation
Chubb Limited is a holding company incorporated in Zurich, Switzerland. Chubb Limited, through its subsidiaries, provides a broad range of insurance and reinsurance products to insureds worldwide. Our results are reported through the following business segments: North America Commercial P&C Insurance, North America Personal P&C Insurance, North America Agricultural Insurance, Overseas General Insurance, Global Reinsurance, and Life Insurance. Refer to Note 14 for additional information.
The accompanying consolidated financial statements, which include the accounts of Chubb Limited and its subsidiaries (collectively, Chubb, we, us, or our), have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (GAAP) and, in the opinion of management, reflect all adjustments (consisting of normally recurring accruals) necessary for a fair statement of the results and financial position for such periods. All significant intercompany accounts and transactions, including internal reinsurance transactions, have been eliminated.
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements, and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Amounts included in the Consolidated financial statements reflect our best estimates and assumptions; actual amounts could differ materially from these estimates. Chubb's principal estimates include:
unpaid loss and loss expense reserves, including long-tail asbestos and environmental (A&E) reserves;
future policy benefits reserves;
amortization of deferred policy acquisition costs and value of business acquired (VOBA);
reinsurance recoverable, including a provision for uncollectible reinsurance;
the assessment of risk transfer for certain structured insurance and reinsurance contracts;
the valuation of the investment portfolio and assessment of other than temporary impairment (OTTI);
the valuation of deferred income taxes;
the valuation of derivative instruments related to guaranteed living benefits (GLB);
the valuation and amortization of purchased intangibles; and
the assessment of goodwill for impairment.
Premiums are generally recorded as written upon inception of the policy. For multi-year policies for which premiums written are payable in annual installments, only the current annual premium is included as written at policy inception due to the ability of the insured/reinsured to commute or cancel coverage within the policy term. The remaining annual premiums are recorded as written at each successive anniversary date within the multi-year term.
For property and casualty (P&C) insurance and reinsurance products, premiums written are primarily earned on a pro-rata basis over the policy terms to which they relate. Unearned premiums represent the portion of premiums written applicable to the unexpired portion of the policies in force. For retrospectively-rated policies, written premiums are adjusted to reflect expected ultimate premiums consistent with changes to incurred losses, or other measures of exposure as stated in the policy, and earned over the policy coverage period. For retrospectively-rated multi-year policies, premiums recognized in the current period are computed using a with-and-without method as the difference between the ceding enterprise's total contract costs before and after the experience under the contract at the reporting date. Accordingly, for retrospectively-rated multi-year policies, additional premiums are generally written and earned when losses are incurred.
Mandatory reinstatement premiums assessed on reinsurance policies are earned in the period of the loss event that gave rise to the reinstatement premiums. All remaining unearned premiums are recognized over the remaining coverage period.
Premiums from long-duration contracts such as certain traditional term life, whole life, endowment, and long-duration personal accident and health (A&H) policies are generally recognized as revenue when due from policyholders. Traditional life policies include those contracts with fixed and guaranteed premiums and benefits. Benefits and expenses are matched with income to result in the recognition of profit over the life of the contracts.
Retroactive loss portfolio transfer (LPT) contracts in which the insured loss events occurred prior to contract inception are evaluated to determine whether they meet criteria for reinsurance accounting. If reinsurance accounting is appropriate, written premiums are fully earned and corresponding losses and loss expenses recognized at contract inception. These contracts can cause significant variances in gross premiums written, net premiums written, net premiums earned, and net incurred losses in the years in which they are written. Reinsurance contracts sold not meeting the criteria for reinsurance accounting are recorded using the deposit method as described below in Note 1 k).
Reinsurance premiums assumed are based on information provided by ceding companies supplemented by our own estimates of premium when we have not received ceding company reports. Estimates are reviewed and adjustments are recorded in the period in which they are determined. Premiums are earned over the coverage terms of the related reinsurance contracts and range from one to three years.
c) Deferred policy acquisition costs and value of business acquired
Policy acquisition costs consist of commissions (direct and ceded), premium taxes, and certain underwriting costs related directly to the successful acquisition of new or renewal insurance contracts. A VOBA intangible asset is established upon the acquisition of blocks of long-duration contracts in a business combination and represents the present value of estimated net cash flows for the contracts in force at the acquisition date. Acquisition costs and VOBA, collectively policy acquisition costs, are deferred and amortized. Amortization is recorded in Policy acquisition costs in the Consolidated statements of operations. Policy acquisition costs on P&C contracts are generally amortized ratably over the period in which premiums are earned. Policy acquisition costs on traditional long-duration contracts are amortized over the estimated life of the contracts, generally in proportion to premium revenue recognized based upon the same assumptions used in estimating the liability for future policy benefits. For non-traditional long-duration contracts, we amortize policy acquisition costs over the expected life of the contracts in proportion to expected gross profits. The effect of changes in estimates of expected gross profits is reflected in the period the estimates are revised. Policy acquisition costs are reviewed to determine if they are recoverable from future income, including investment income. Unrecoverable policy acquisition costs are expensed in the period identified.
Advertising costs are expensed as incurred except for direct-response campaigns that qualify for cost deferral, principally related to long-duration A&H business produced by the Overseas General Insurance segment, which are deferred and recognized as a component of Policy acquisition costs. For individual direct-response marketing campaigns that we can demonstrate have specifically resulted in incremental sales to customers and such sales have probable future economic benefits, incremental costs directly related to the marketing campaigns are capitalized as Deferred policy acquisition costs. Deferred policy acquisition costs, including deferred marketing costs, are reviewed regularly for recoverability from future income, including investment income, and amortized in proportion to premium revenue recognized, primarily over a ten-year period, the expected economic future benefit period based upon the same assumptions used in estimating the liability for future policy benefits. The expected future benefit period is evaluated periodically based on historical results and adjusted prospectively. The amount of deferred marketing costs reported in Deferred policy acquisition costs in the Consolidated balance sheets was $255 million and $271 million at December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Amortization expense for deferred marketing costs was $114 million, $116 million, and $92 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively.
Chubb assumes and cedes reinsurance with other insurance companies to provide greater diversification of business and minimize the net loss potential arising from large risks. Ceded reinsurance contracts do not relieve Chubb of its primary obligation to policyholders.
For both ceded and assumed reinsurance, risk transfer requirements must be met in order to account for a contract as reinsurance, principally resulting in the recognition of cash flows under the contract as premiums and losses. To meet risk transfer requirements, a reinsurance contract must include insurance risk, consisting of both underwriting and timing risk, and a reasonable possibility of a significant loss for the assuming entity. To assess risk transfer for certain contracts, Chubb generally develops expected discounted cash flow analyses at contract inception. Deposit accounting is used for contracts that do not meet risk transfer requirements. Deposit accounting requires that consideration received or paid be recorded in the balance sheet as opposed to recording premiums written or losses incurred in the statement of operations. Non-refundable fees on deposit contracts are earned based on the terms of the contract described below in Note 1 k).
Reinsurance recoverable includes balances due from reinsurance companies for paid and unpaid losses and loss expenses and future policy benefits that will be recovered from reinsurers, based on contracts in force. The method for determining the reinsurance recoverable on unpaid losses and loss expenses incurred but not reported (IBNR) involves actuarial estimates consistent with those used to establish the associated liability for unpaid losses and loss expenses as well as a determination of Chubb's ability to cede unpaid losses and loss expenses under the terms of the reinsurance agreement.
Reinsurance recoverable is presented net of a provision for uncollectible reinsurance determined based upon a review of the financial condition of reinsurers and other factors. The provision for uncollectible reinsurance is based on an estimate of the reinsurance recoverable balance that will ultimately be unrecoverable due to reinsurer insolvency, a contractual dispute, or any other reason. The valuation of this provision includes several judgments including certain aspects of the allocation of reinsurance recoverable on IBNR claims by reinsurer and a default analysis to estimate uncollectible reinsurance. The primary components of the default analysis are reinsurance recoverable balances by reinsurer, net of collateral, and default factors used to determine the portion of a reinsurer's balance deemed uncollectible. The definition of collateral for this purpose requires some judgment and is generally limited to assets held in a Chubb-only beneficiary trust, letters of credit, and liabilities held with the same legal entity for which Chubb believes there is a contractual right of offset. The determination of the default factor is principally based on the financial strength rating of the reinsurer. Default factors require considerable judgment and are determined using the current financial strength rating, or rating equivalent, of each reinsurer as well as other key considerations and assumptions. The more significant considerations include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
For reinsurers that maintain a financial strength rating from a major rating agency, and for which recoverable balances are considered representative of the larger population (i.e., default probabilities are consistent with similarly rated reinsurers and payment durations conform to averages), the financial rating is based on a published source and the default factor is based on published default statistics of a major rating agency applicable to the reinsurer's particular rating class. When a recoverable is expected to be paid in a brief period of time by a highly rated reinsurer, such as certain property catastrophe claims, a default factor may not be applied;
For balances recoverable from reinsurers that are both unrated by a major rating agency and for which management is unable to determine a credible rating equivalent based on a parent, affiliate, or peer company, we determine a rating equivalent based on an analysis of the reinsurer that considers an assessment of the creditworthiness of the particular entity, industry benchmarks, or other factors as considered appropriate. We then apply the applicable default factor for that rating class. For balances recoverable from unrated reinsurers for which the ceded reserve is below a certain threshold, we generally apply a default factor of 34 percent, consistent with published statistics of a major rating agency;
For balances recoverable from reinsurers that are either insolvent or under regulatory supervision, we establish a default factor and resulting provision for uncollectible reinsurance based on reinsurer-specific facts and circumstances. Upon initial notification of an insolvency, we generally recognize an expense for a substantial portion of all balances outstanding, net of collateral, through a combination of write-offs of recoverable balances and increases to the provision for uncollectible reinsurance. When regulatory action is taken on a reinsurer, we generally recognize a default factor by estimating an expected recovery on all balances outstanding, net of collateral. When sufficient credible information becomes available, we adjust the provision for uncollectible reinsurance by establishing a default factor pursuant to information received; and
For other recoverables, management determines the provision for uncollectible reinsurance based on the specific facts and circumstances.
The methods used to determine the reinsurance recoverable balance and related provision for uncollectible reinsurance are regularly reviewed and updated, and any resulting adjustments are reflected in earnings in the period identified.
Prepaid reinsurance premiums represent the portion of premiums ceded to reinsurers applicable to the unexpired coverage terms of the reinsurance contracts in-force.
The value of reinsurance business assumed of $14 million and $18 million at December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively, included in Other assets in the accompanying Consolidated balance sheets, represents the excess of estimated ultimate value of the liabilities assumed under retroactive reinsurance contracts over consideration received. The value of reinsurance business assumed is amortized and recorded to Losses and loss expenses based on the payment pattern of the losses assumed and ranges between 9 and 40 years. The unamortized value is reviewed regularly to determine if it is recoverable based upon the terms of the contract, estimated losses and loss expenses, and anticipated investment income. Unrecoverable amounts are expensed in the period identified.
Fixed maturities, equity securities, and short-term investments
Fixed maturities are classified as either available for sale or held to maturity.
Available for sale (AFS) portfolio is reported at fair value with changes in fair value recorded as a separate component of AOCI in Shareholders' equity.
Held to maturity (HTM) portfolio includes securities for which we have the ability and intent to hold to maturity or redemption and is reported at amortized cost.
Equity securities are reported at fair value with changes in fair value recorded in net realized gains (losses) on the Consolidated statement of operations. Prior to January 1, 2018, changes in fair value were recorded as a separate component of AOCI in Shareholders' equity.
Short-term investments comprise securities due to mature within one year of the date of purchase and are recorded at fair value which typically approximates cost.
Interest, dividend income, amortization of fixed maturity market premiums and discounts related to these securities are recorded in Net investment income, net of investment management and custody fees, in the Consolidated statement of operations.
In addition, net investment income includes the amortization of the fair value adjustment related to the acquired invested assets of The Chubb Corporation (Chubb Corp). An adjustment of $1,652 million related to the fair value of Chubb Corp’s fixed maturities securities was recorded (fair value adjustment) at the date of acquisition. At December 31, 2018, the remaining balance of this fair value adjustment was $520 million which is expected to amortize over the next three years; however, the estimate could vary materially based on current market conditions, bond calls, and the duration of the acquired investment portfolio. In addition, sales of these acquired fixed maturities would also reduce the fair value adjustment balance. For mortgage-backed securities and any other holdings for which there is a prepayment risk, prepayment assumptions are evaluated and revised as necessary. Any adjustments required due to the resultant change in effective yields and maturities are recognized prospectively. Prepayment fees or call premiums that are only payable when a security is called prior to its maturity are earned when received and reflected in Net investment income.
We regularly review our fixed maturities for other than temporary impairment (OTTI). Refer to Note 2 for additional information. With respect to fixed maturities where the decline in value is determined to be temporary and is not written down, a subsequent decision may be made to sell that security and realize a loss. Subsequent decisions on fixed maturities sales are the result of changing or unforeseen facts and circumstances (i.e., arising from a large insured loss such as a catastrophe), deterioration of the creditworthiness of the issuer or its industry, or changes in regulatory requirements. We believe that subsequent decisions to sell such securities are consistent with the classification of the majority of the portfolio as available for sale.
Other investments principally comprise investment funds, limited partnerships, partially-owned investment companies, life insurance policies, policy loans, and non-qualified separate account assets.
Investment funds and limited partnerships
Investment funds, limited partnerships, and all other investments over which Chubb cannot exercise significant influence are accounted for as follows. Generally, we own less than three percent of the investee’s shares.
Income and expenses from these funds are reported within Net investment income.
These funds are carried at net asset value, which approximates fair value with changes in fair value recorded in net realized gains (losses) on the Consolidated statement of operations. Refer to Note 3 for a further discussion on net asset value. Prior to January 1, 2018, changes in fair value were recorded as a separate component of AOCI in Shareholders' equity.
As a result of the timing of the receipt of valuation data from the investment managers, these investments are generally reported on a three-month lag.
Sales of these investments are reported within Net realized gains (losses).
Partially-owned investment companies
Partially-owned investment companies where our ownership interest is in excess of three percent are accounted for under the equity method because Chubb exerts significant influence. These investments apply investment company accounting to determine operating results, and Chubb retains the investment company accounting in applying the equity method.
This means that investment income, realized gains or losses, and unrealized gains or losses are included in the portion of equity earnings reflected in Other (income) expense.
As a result of the timing of the receipt of valuation data from the investment managers, these investments are generally reported on a three-month lag.
Policy loans are carried at outstanding balance and interest income is reflected in Net investment income.
Life insurance policies are carried at policy cash surrender value and income is reflected in Other (income) expense.
Non-qualified separate account assets are supported by assets that do not qualify for separate accounting reporting under GAAP. The underlying securities are recorded on a trade date basis and carried at fair value. Unrealized gains and losses on non-qualified separate account assets are reflected in Other (income) expense.
Investments in partially-owned insurance companies
Investments in partially-owned insurance companies primarily represent direct investments in which Chubb has significant influence and as such, meet the requirements for equity accounting. We report our share of the net income or loss of the partially-owned insurance companies in Other (income) expense.
Chubb recognizes all derivatives at fair value in the Consolidated balance sheets in either Accounts payable, accrued expenses, and other liabilities or Other assets. Changes in fair value are included in Net realized gains (losses) in the Consolidated statements of operations. We did not designate any derivatives as accounting hedges during 2018, 2017, or 2016. We participate in derivative instruments in two principal ways:
(i) To sell protection to customers as an insurance or reinsurance contract that meets the definition of a derivative for accounting purposes. The reinsurance of GLBs was our primary product falling into this category; and
(ii) To mitigate financial risks and manage certain investment portfolio risks and exposures, including assets and liabilities held in foreign currencies. We use derivative instruments including futures, options, swaps, and foreign currency. Refer to Note 9 for additional information.
Securities lending program
Chubb participates in a securities lending program operated by a third-party banking institution whereby certain assets are loaned to qualified borrowers and from which we earn an incremental return which is recorded within Net investment income in the Consolidated statement of operations.
Borrowers provide collateral, in the form of either cash or approved securities, at a minimum of 102 percent of the fair value of the loaned securities. Each security loan is deemed to be an overnight transaction. Cash collateral is invested in a collateral pool which is managed by the banking institution. The collateral pool is subject to written investment guidelines with key objectives which include the safeguard of principal and adequate liquidity to meet anticipated redemptions. The fair value of the loaned securities is monitored on a daily basis, with additional collateral obtained or refunded as the fair value of the loaned securities changes. The collateral is held by the third-party banking institution, and the collateral can only be accessed in the event that the institution borrowing the securities is in default under the lending agreement. As a result of these restrictions, we consider our securities lending activities to be non-cash investing and financing activities. An indemnification agreement with the lending agent protects us in the event a borrower becomes insolvent or fails to return any of the securities on loan.
The fair value of the securities on loan is included in fixed maturities and equity securities in the Consolidated balance sheets. The securities lending collateral is reported as a separate line in the Consolidated balance sheets with a related liability reflecting our obligation to return the collateral plus interest.
Similar to securities lending arrangements, securities sold under repurchase agreements, whereby Chubb sells securities and repurchases them at a future date for a predetermined price, are accounted for as collateralized investments and borrowings and are recorded at the contractual repurchase amounts plus accrued interest. Assets to be repurchased are the same or substantially the same as the assets transferred, and the transferor, through right of substitution, maintains the right and ability to redeem the collateral on short notice. The fair value of the underlying securities is included in fixed maturities and equity securities. In contrast to securities lending programs, the use of cash received is not restricted. We report the obligation to return the cash as Repurchase agreements in the Consolidated balance sheets and record the fees under these repurchase agreements within Interest expense on the Consolidated statement of operations.
Refer to Note 3 for a discussion on the determination of fair value for Chubb's various investment securities.
Cash includes cash on hand and deposits with an original maturity of three months or less at time of purchase.
We have agreements with a third-party bank provider which implemented two international multi-currency notional cash pooling programs. In each program, participating Chubb entities establish deposit accounts in different currencies with the bank provider and each day the credit or debit balances in every account are notionally translated into a single currency (U.S. dollars) and then notionally pooled. The bank extends overdraft credit to any participating Chubb entity as needed, provided that the overall notionally-pooled balance of all accounts in each pool at the end of each day is at least zero. Actual cash balances are not physically converted and are not commingled between legal entities. Any overdraft balances incurred under this program by a Chubb entity would be guaranteed by Chubb Limited (up to $300 million in the aggregate). Our syndicated letter of credit facility allows for same day drawings to fund a net pool overdraft should participating Chubb entities overdraw contributed funds from the pool.
Restricted cash in the Consolidated balance sheets represents amounts held for the benefit of third parties and is legally or contractually restricted as to withdrawal or usage. Amounts include deposits with U.S. and non-U.S. regulatory authorities, trust funds set up for the benefit of ceding companies, and amounts pledged as collateral to meet financing arrangements.
Effective January 1, 2018, we retrospectively adopted guidance on "Restricted Cash" that clarified the presentation of restricted cash on the Consolidated statement of cash flows. As a result, we revised the Consolidated statement of cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 to include restricted cash in the beginning and ending cash balances. In addition, we reclassified $123 million of Restricted cash from Other assets to a separate line in the Consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2017.
The following table provides a reconciliation of cash and restricted cash reported within the Consolidated balance sheets that total to the amounts shown in the Consolidated statements of cash flows:
(in millions of U.S. dollars)
Total cash and restricted cash shown in the Consolidated statements of cash flows
g) Goodwill and Other intangible assets
Goodwill represents the excess of the cost of acquisitions over the fair value of net assets acquired and is not amortized. Goodwill is assigned at acquisition to the applicable reporting unit of the acquired entities giving rise to the goodwill. Goodwill impairment tests are performed annually or more frequently if circumstances indicate a possible impairment. For goodwill impairment testing, we use a qualitative assessment to determine whether it is more likely than not (i.e., more than a 50 percent probability) that the fair value of a reporting unit is greater than its carrying amount. If our assessment indicates less than a 50 percent probability that fair value exceeds carrying value, we quantitatively estimate a reporting unit's fair value. Goodwill recorded in connection with investments in partially-owned insurance companies is recorded in Investments in partially-owned insurance companies and is also measured for impairment annually.
Indefinite lived intangible assets are not subject to amortization. Finite lived intangible assets are amortized over their useful lives, generally ranging from 1 to 30 years. Intangible assets are regularly reviewed for indicators of impairment. Impairment is recognized if the carrying amount is not recoverable from its undiscounted cash flows and is measured as the difference between the carrying amount and fair value.
h) Unpaid losses and loss expenses
A liability is established for the estimated unpaid losses and loss expenses under the terms of, and with respect to, Chubb's policies and agreements. Similar to premiums that are recognized as revenues over the coverage period of the policy, a liability for unpaid losses and loss expenses is recognized as expense when insured events occur over the coverage period of the policy. This liability includes a provision for both reported claims (case reserves) and incurred but not reported claims (IBNR reserves). IBNR reserve estimates are generally calculated by first projecting the ultimate cost of all losses that have occurred (expected losses), and then subtracting paid losses, case reserves, and loss expenses. The methods of determining such estimates and establishing the resulting liability are reviewed regularly and any adjustments are reflected in operations in the period in which they become known. Future developments may result in losses and loss expenses materially greater or less than recorded amounts.
Except for net loss and loss expense reserves of $33 million, net of discount, held at December 31, 2018, representing certain structured settlements for which the timing and amount of future claim payments are reliably determinable and $40 million, net of discount, of certain reserves for unsettled claims that are discounted in statutory filings, Chubb does not discount its P&C loss reserves. This compares with reserves of $36 million for certain structured settlements and $41 million of certain reserves for unsettled claims at December 31, 2017. Structured settlements represent contracts purchased from life insurance companies primarily to settle workers' compensation claims, where payments to the claimant by the life insurance company are expected to be made in the form of an annuity. Chubb retains the liability to the claimant in the event that the life insurance company fails to pay. At December 31, 2018, the liability due to claimants was $581 million, net of discount, and reinsurance recoverables due from the life insurance companies was $548 million, net of discount. For structured settlement contracts where payments are guaranteed regardless of claimant life expectancy, the amounts recoverable from the life insurance companies at December 31, 2018 are included in Other assets in the Consolidated balance sheets, as they do not meet the requirements for reinsurance accounting.
Included in Unpaid losses and loss expenses are liabilities for asbestos and environmental (A&E) claims and expenses. These unpaid losses and loss expenses are principally related to claims arising from remediation costs associated with hazardous waste sites and bodily-injury claims related to asbestos products and environmental hazards. The estimation of these liabilities is particularly sensitive to changes in the legal environment including specific settlements that may be used as precedents to settle future claims. However, Chubb does not anticipate future changes in laws and regulations in setting its A&E reserve levels.
Also included in Unpaid losses and loss expenses is the fair value adjustment of $207 million and $309 million at December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively, related to Chubb Corp’s historical unpaid losses and loss expenses. The estimated fair value consists of the present value of the expected net unpaid loss and loss adjustment expense payments adjusted for an estimated risk margin. The estimated cash flows are discounted at a risk free rate. The estimated risk margin varies based on the inherent risks associated with each type of reserve. The fair value is amortized through Amortization of purchased intangibles on the consolidated statements of operations through the year 2032, based on the estimated payout patterns of unpaid loss and loss expenses at the acquisition date.
Prior period development arises from changes to loss estimates recognized in the current year that relate to loss reserves first reported in previous calendar years and excludes the effect of losses from the development of earned premiums from previous accident years.
For purposes of analysis and disclosure, management views prior period development to be changes in the nominal value of loss estimates from period to period, net of premium and profit commission adjustments on loss sensitive contracts. Prior period development generally excludes changes in loss estimates that do not arise from the emergence of claims, such as those related to uncollectible reinsurance, interest, unallocated loss adjustment expenses, or foreign currency. Accordingly, specific items excluded from prior period development include the following: gains/losses related to foreign currency remeasurement; losses recognized from the early termination or commutation of reinsurance agreements that principally relate to the time value of money; changes in the value of reinsurance business assumed reflected in losses incurred but principally related to the time value of money; and losses that arise from changes in estimates of earned premiums from prior accident years. Except for foreign currency remeasurement, which is included in Net realized gains (losses), these items are included in current year losses.
i) Future policy benefits
The valuation of long-duration contract reserves requires management to make estimates and assumptions regarding expenses, mortality, persistency, and investment yields. Estimates are primarily based on historical experience and information provided by ceding companies and include a margin for adverse deviation. Interest rates used in calculating reserves range from less than 1.0 percent to 11.0 percent and less than 1.0 percent to 8.0 percent at December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Actual results could differ materially from these estimates. Management monitors actual experience and where circumstances warrant, will revise assumptions and the related reserve estimates. Revisions are recorded in the period they are determined.
Certain of our long-duration contracts are supported by assets that do not qualify for separate account reporting under GAAP. These assets are classified as non-qualified separate account assets and reported in Other investments and the offsetting liabilities are reported in Future policy benefits in the Consolidated balance sheets. Changes in the fair value of separate account assets that do not qualify for separate account reporting under GAAP are reported in Other income (expense) and the offsetting movements in the liabilities are included in Policy benefits in the Consolidated statements of operations.
j) Assumed reinsurance programs involving minimum benefit guarantees under variable annuity contracts
Chubb reinsures various death and living benefit guarantees associated with variable annuities issued primarily in the United States. We generally receive a monthly premium during the accumulation phase of the covered annuities (in-force) based on a percentage of either the underlying accumulated account values or the underlying accumulated guaranteed values. Depending on an annuitant's age, the accumulation phase can last many years. To limit our exposure under these programs, all reinsurance treaties include annual or aggregate claim limits and many include an aggregate deductible.
The guarantees which are payable on death, referred to as guaranteed minimum death benefits (GMDB), principally cover shortfalls between accumulated account value at the time of an annuitant's death and either i) an annuitant's total deposits; ii) an annuitant's total deposits plus a minimum annual return; or iii) the highest accumulated account value attained at any policy anniversary date. In addition, a death benefit may be based on a formula specified in the variable annuity contract that uses a percentage of the growth of the underlying contract value. Liabilities for GMDBs are based on cumulative assessments or premiums to date multiplied by a benefit ratio that is determined by estimating the present value of benefit payments and related adjustment expenses divided by the present value of cumulative assessment or expected premiums during the contract period.
Under reinsurance programs covering GLBs, we assume the risk of guaranteed minimum income benefits (GMIB) associated with variable annuity contracts. The GMIB risk is triggered if, at the time the contract holder elects to convert the accumulated account value to a periodic payment stream (annuitize), the accumulated account value is not sufficient to provide a guaranteed minimum level of monthly income. We also assume the risk of guaranteed minimum accumulation benefits (GMAB). However, at December 31, 2018, the risks related to our GMAB programs are minimal given that the majority of these policies are no longer in force. Our GLB reinsurance products meet the definition of a derivative for accounting purposes and are carried at fair value with changes in fair value recognized in Realized gains (losses) in the Consolidated statement of operations. Refer to Notes 4 c) and 9 a) for additional information.
k) Deposit assets and liabilities
Deposit assets arise from ceded reinsurance contracts purchased that do not transfer significant underwriting or timing risk. Deposit liabilities include reinsurance deposit liabilities and contract holder deposit funds. The reinsurance deposit liabilities arise from contracts sold for which there is not a significant transfer of risk. Contract holder deposit funds represent a liability for investment contracts sold that do not meet the definition of an insurance contract, and certain of these contracts are sold with a guaranteed rate of return. Under deposit accounting, consideration received or paid is recorded as a deposit asset or liability in the balance sheet as opposed to recording premiums and losses in the statement of operations.
Interest income on deposit assets, representing the consideration received or to be received in excess of cash payments related to the deposit contract, is earned based on an effective yield calculation. The calculation of the effective yield is based on the amount and timing of actual cash flows at the balance sheet date and the estimated amount and timing of future cash flows. The effective yield is recalculated periodically to reflect revised estimates of cash flows. When a change in the actual or estimated cash flows occurs, the resulting change to the carrying amount of the deposit asset is reported as income or expense. Deposit assets of $97 million and $89 million at December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively, are reflected in Other assets in the Consolidated balance sheets and the accretion of deposit assets related to interest pursuant to the effective yield calculation is reflected in Net investment income in the Consolidated statements of operations.
Deposit liabilities include reinsurance deposit liabilities of $97 million and $100 million and contract holder deposit funds of $1.8 billion at both December 31, 2018 and 2017. Deposit liabilities are reflected in Accounts payable, accrued expenses, and other liabilities in the Consolidated balance sheets. At contract inception, the deposit liability equals net cash received. An accretion rate is established based on actuarial estimates whereby the deposit liability is increased to the estimated amount payable over the contract term. The deposit accretion rate is the rate of return required to fund expected future payment obligations. We periodically reassess the estimated ultimate liability and related expected rate of return. Changes to the deposit liability are generally reflected through Interest expense to reflect the cumulative effect of the period the contract has been in force, and by an adjustment to the future accretion rate of the liability over the remaining estimated contract term.
The liability for contract holder deposit funds equals accumulated policy account values, which consist of the deposit payments plus credited interest less withdrawals and amounts assessed through the end of the period.
l) Property and Equipment
Property and equipment used in operations are capitalized and carried at cost less accumulated depreciation and are reported within Other assets in the Consolidated balance sheets. At December 31, 2018, property and equipment totaled $1.7 billion, consisting principally of capitalized software costs of $970 million incurred to develop or obtain computer software for internal use and company-owned facilities of $277 million. Depreciation is calculated using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets. For capitalized software, the estimated useful life is generally three to five years, but can be as long as 15 years and for company-owned facilities the estimated useful life is 39 years. At December 31, 2017, property and equipment totaled $1.3 billion.
m) Foreign currency remeasurement and translation
The functional currency for each of our foreign operations is generally the currency of the local operating environment. Transactions in currencies other than a foreign operation's functional currency are remeasured into the functional currency, and the resulting foreign exchange gains and losses are reflected in Net realized gains (losses) in the Consolidated statements of operations. Functional currency assets and liabilities are translated into the reporting currency, U.S. dollars, using period end exchange rates and the related translation adjustments are recorded as a separate component of AOCI in Shareholders' equity. Functional statement of operations amounts expressed in functional currencies are translated using average exchange rates.
n) Administrative expenses
Administrative expenses generally include all operating costs other than policy acquisition costs. The North America Commercial P&C Insurance segment manages and uses an in-house third-party claims administrator, ESIS Inc. (ESIS). ESIS performs claims management and risk control services for domestic and international organizations that self-insure P&C exposures as well as internal P&C exposures. The net operating results of ESIS are included within Administrative expenses in the Consolidated statements of operations and were $49 million, $38 million, and $32 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively.
o) Income taxes
Income taxes have been recorded related to those operations subject to income tax. Deferred tax assets and liabilities result from temporary differences between the amounts recorded in the consolidated financial statements and the tax basis of our assets and liabilities. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax law or rates is recognized in the period that includes the enactment date. A valuation allowance against deferred tax assets is recorded if it is more likely than not that all, or some portion, of the benefits related to these deferred tax assets will not be realized. The valuation allowance assessment considers tax planning strategies, where appropriate.
We recognize uncertain tax positions deemed more likely than not of being sustained upon examination. Recognized income tax positions are measured at the largest amount that has a greater than 50 percent likelihood of being realized. Changes in recognition or measurement are reflected in the period in which the change in judgment occurs.
p) Earnings per share
Basic earnings per share is calculated using the weighted-average shares outstanding, including participating securities with non-forfeitable rights to dividends such as unvested restricted stock. All potentially dilutive securities, including stock options are excluded from the basic earnings per share calculation. In calculating diluted earnings per share, the weighted-average shares outstanding is increased to include all potentially dilutive securities. Basic and diluted earnings per share are calculated by dividing net income by the applicable weighted-average number of shares outstanding during the year.
q) Cash flow information
Premiums received and losses paid associated with the GLB reinsurance products, which as discussed previously, meet the definition of a derivative instrument for accounting purposes, are included within Cash flows from operating activities. Cash flows, such as settlements and collateral requirements, associated with GLB and all other derivative instruments, are included on a net basis within Cash flows from investing activities. Purchases, sales, and maturities of short-term investments are recorded on a net basis within Cash flows from investing activities.
r) Share-based compensation
Chubb measures and records compensation cost for all share-based payment awards at grant-date fair value. Compensation costs are recognized for vesting of share-based payment awards with only service conditions on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period for each separately vesting portion of the award as if the award were, in substance, multiple awards. For retirement-eligible participants, compensation costs for certain share-based payment awards are recognized immediately at the date of grant. Refer to Note 11 for additional information.
s) Chubb integration expenses
Direct costs related to the Chubb Corp acquisition were expensed as incurred. Chubb integration expenses were $59 million, $310 million, and $492 million for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively, and include all internal and external costs directly related to the integration activities of the Chubb Corp acquisition. These expenses principally consisted of personnel-related expenses, consulting fees, and rebranding.
t) New accounting pronouncements
Adopted in 2018
Revenue from Contracts with Customers
Effective January 2018, we adopted new accounting guidance on "Revenue from Contracts with Customers" on a prospective basis. The standard excludes from its scope the accounting for insurance contracts, leases, financial instruments, and certain other agreements that are governed under other GAAP guidance, but could affect the revenue recognition for certain of our claims management and risk control services. The updated guidance requires an entity to recognize revenue as performance obligations are met, in order to reflect the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration the entity is entitled to receive for those goods or services. The adoption of this guidance did not have a material impact on our financial condition or results of operations given that the majority of our business is outside the scope of this guidance.
Financial Instruments – Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities
Effective January 2018, we adopted new accounting guidance on "Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities" on a modified-retrospective basis. The guidance requires equity investments, other than those accounted for under the equity method of accounting, to be measured at fair value with changes in fair value recognized through net income. The guidance impacts our public equities and cost-method private equities. As a result, we recorded a cumulative-effect adjustment to increase beginning Retained earnings by $417 million after tax ($454 million pre-tax), representing the unrealized appreciation on our equity investments as of December 31, 2017 with an offsetting adjustment to decrease beginning Accumulated other comprehensive income. All subsequent changes in fair value of our equity investments are recognized within realized gains (losses) on the Consolidated statement of operations. Prior period amounts have not been adjusted and continue to be reported in accordance with the previous accounting guidance.
Income Tax Accounting Implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017 Tax Act) was enacted in December 2017. Among other things, the 2017 Tax Act reduced the U.S. Federal income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent effective in 2018, and instituted a dividends received deduction for foreign earnings with a related tax for the deemed repatriation of unremitted foreign earnings. The 2017 Tax Act also included provisions for Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) under which taxes may be imposed on income of foreign subsidiaries, and for a Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) under which taxes may be imposed on certain payments to affiliated foreign companies.
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 118 (SAB 118), Income Tax Accounting Implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which provided guidance for the application of the 2017 Tax Act and allowed companies up to one year to complete their accounting. In connection with the 2017 Tax Act, we recorded a $450 million income tax provisional benefit in the fourth quarter of 2017. In 2018, we recorded an additional benefit of $25 million as a measurement period adjustment, resulting in a final transition benefit of $475 million. This change reflected the favorable impact of changes to certain tax only accounting methods offset by updates to provisional amounts recorded related to foreign tax credits and withholding taxes as a result of additional guidance issued during 2018. Refer to Note 7 for additional information.
Reclassification of Certain Tax Effects from Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income
In February 2018, the FASB issued guidance that allows the optional reclassification from Accumulated other comprehensive income (AOCI) to Retained earnings of the stranded tax effects resulting from the 2017 Tax Act for all items accounted for in AOCI. We adopted the standard in 2018 and elected to reclassify $146 million of stranded tax effects from beginning AOCI to beginning Retained earnings. The stranded tax effects included $121 million of tax expense related to Net unrealized appreciation of investments, $47 million of tax expense related to Postretirement benefit liability, and a tax benefit of $22 million related to Cumulative foreign currency translation losses as of December 31, 2017.
Intra-Entity Transfers of Assets Other than Inventory
Effective January 2018, we adopted new accounting guidance on “Intra-Entity Transfers of Assets Other Than Inventory” on a modified-retrospective basis. Under the new guidance, we will no longer defer taxes on intra-company asset transfers and will recognize any related income tax expense (benefit) immediately through the Consolidated statement of operations. As a result, we recorded a cumulative-effect adjustment to decrease beginning Retained earnings by $7 million, representing the removal of the deferred tax assets for previous intra-company asset transfer transactions not yet recognized through earnings.
Changes to the Disclosure Requirements for Fair Value Measurements
In August 2018, the FASB issued amendments to modify the disclosure requirements on fair value measurements. The amendments allow for the removal of (1) the amount and reasons for transfer between Level 1 and Level 2 of the fair value hierarchy; (2) the policy for transfers between levels; and (3) the valuation processes for Level 3 fair value measurements. This update also requires the expanded discussion on unobservable inputs that are significant to the fair value measurement. We have early adopted the amendments that allow the removal of certain disclosures and deferred the adoption of the additional disclosure until the effective date in the first quarter of 2020, as permitted. The guidance changes disclosure only and did not have an impact on our financial condition or results of operations.
Changes to the Disclosure Requirements for Defined Benefit Plans
In August 2018, the FASB issued amendments to allow for the removal and addition of various disclosure requirements related to defined benefit pension or other postretirement plans. We elected to early adopt this guidance in the fourth quarter of 2018, as permitted. The guidance changes disclosures only and did not have an impact on our financial condition or results of operations.
Adopted in 2019
Premium Amortization on Purchased Callable Debt Securities
In March 2017, the FASB issued guidance on the amortization period for purchased callable debt securities held at a premium. The guidance requires the premium to be amortized to the earliest call date. Under current guidance, premiums generally are amortized over the contracted life of the security. We adopted this guidance on January 1, 2019 on a modified retrospective basis through a cumulative effect adjustment which decreased beginning retained earnings by approximately $15 million pre-tax, or $11 million after-tax. Securities held at a discount do not require an accounting change.
In February 2016, the FASB issued accounting guidance requiring leases with lease terms of more than 12 months to recognize
a right of use asset and a corresponding lease liability on the balance sheets. We adopted this guidance on January 1, 2019 on a modified retrospective basis and recognized a right of use asset and a corresponding lease liability for our real estate leases of approximately $800 million. The adoption of this guidance did not have a material effect on our results of operations, financial condition or liquidity.
Accounting guidance not yet adopted
Financial Instruments – Credit Losses: Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments
In June 2016, the FASB issued guidance on the accounting for credit losses of financial instruments that are measured at amortized cost, including held to maturity securities and reinsurance recoverables, by applying an approach based on the current expected credit losses (CECL). The estimate of expected credit losses should consider historical information, current information, as well as reasonable and supportable forecasts, including estimates of prepayments. The allowance for credit losses is a valuation account that is deducted from the amortized cost basis of the financial asset in order to present the net carrying value at the amount expected to be collected on the financial asset on the Consolidated balance sheet.
The guidance also amends the current debt security other-than-temporary impairment model by requiring an estimate of the expected credit loss (ECL) only when the fair value is below the amortized cost of the asset. The length of time the fair value of an AFS debt security has been below the amortized cost will no longer impact the determination of whether a potential credit loss exists. The AFS debt security model will also require the use of a valuation allowance as compared to the current practice of writing down the asset.
The standard is effective for us in the first quarter of 2020 with early adoption permitted. We will be able to assess the effect of adopting this guidance on our financial condition and results of operations closer to the date of adoption.
Targeted Improvements to the Accounting for Long-Duration Contracts
In August 2018, the FASB issued guidance to improve the existing recognition, measurement, presentation, and disclosure requirements for long-duration contracts issued by an insurance entity. The amendments in this update require more frequent updating of assumptions and a standardized discount rate for the future policy benefit liability, a requirement to use the fair value measurement model for policies with market risk benefits, simplified amortization of deferred acquisition costs, and enhanced disclosures.
This standard will be effective for us in the first quarter of 2021 with early adoption permitted. We are currently assessing the effect of adopting this guidance on our financial condition and results of operations. We will be better able to quantify the effect of adopting this standard as we progress in our implementation process and draw nearer to the date of adoption.