IFRS 17 and AASB 17

AASB 17 is a new accounting standard for insurance business.  It is based on, and almost identical to the international standard, IFRS 17, issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).

It becomes effective for accounting periods starting 1 January 2021 or later, though it may be adopted early.

The new standard is quite different in many detailed ways from the current accounting standards for life insurance, general insurance and health insurance in Australia. The standard is complex and there are many challenges to fully understand its implications and to be able to provide definitive guidance.

Information Note (IN)

In late 2016, the Actuaries Institute formed a task force to help the profession prepare for the new standard. The taskforce decided to produce an Information Note (IN) as its primary piece of work.

The Task Force completed Version 1.2 of the AASB 17: Insurance Contracts Information Note (IN) in December 2018. This is an update of Version 1.1 of the IN, which was released in July 2018. This in turn followed Version 1.0, a draft for discussion, in March 2018. 

A number of refinements and clarifications have been made in Version 1.2, following feedback, questions and improved understanding, with the main changes being as follows:

  • A Preface has been added.This provides more context and amongst other matters explains how areas of uncertainty are being addressed.

To provide ready access to information about areas of uncertainty, a new Section 15 (Interpretation Uncertainties) has been added.

  • Updates have been made where previously uncertain areas have been clarified (e.g. through the IASB September TRG); and
  • Various editorial clarifications have been made.

In February 2019, Addendum A to Version 1.2 was published by the Task Force.  This deals with changes to IFRS 17 tentatively agreed by the IASB in January and February 2019.

Here is Version 1.2 of the IN.

Here is Addendum A to Version 1.2 of the IN (to be read in conjunction with Version 1.2)

Here is Version 1.1 of the IN.

Here is a copy of Version 1.2 showing the more substantive changes from Version 1.1

The IASB is working through various sources of feedback and is providing clarification to IFRS 17 over time, and in late 2018 and early 2019 also tentatively agreed to some changes (addressed in Version a.2 and Addendum A).

The Task Force intends to update the IN (every 3-6 months or so) to reflect this, together with other improvements considered necessary as accounting interpretations are clarified and members gain more experience with the standard.

The International Actuarial Association is preparing an International Actuarial Note (IAN) and it recently released an exposure draft and is seeking comment – see here.  Members of the Australian TF have contributed significantly to the development of the IAN. Where appropriate the IN will be adapted in future to be consistent with the IAN.


The Task Force is keen to be given feedback from members as they put the IN to use.  To help with this, please use this form and get in touch with Tony Burke, and he will engage the TF as required.

Task Force members (as at march 2019)

  • Ian Laughlin (Taskforce Chair, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), Australian Taxation office (ATO), Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) and Treasury)
  • Francis Beens (Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and General Insurance Practice Committee Representative)
  • Antony Claughton (Health Practice Committee (HPC) representative)
  • Ben Coulter (New Zealand Society of Actuaries)
  • Brendan Counsell (Premium Allocation Approach (PAA), International Actuarial Association (IAA) and the Accounting & Actuaries Liaison Committee AALC)
  • Briallen Cummings (Disclosures / OCI, reporting, current estimates and strategic transition)
  • Anne Driver (AALC, Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) TRG)
  • Trang Duncanson (Analyst Community, Financial Services Council (FSC), Actuaries Institute Communication Lead)
  • Jun Oh (APRA)
  • Brett Pickett (APRA representative, LIWMPC representative and AALC)
  • Grant Robinson (Core Requirements)
  • David Rush (Variable Fee Approach (VFA), Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC))
  • Andrew Scott (Actuarial Consultancy)
  • Alison Nanson (Life Risk Adjustment Working Group)
  • Kaise Stephan
  • Victoria Tidmas


The Task Force has had a number of interactions with APRA, and this has led to a decision to set up working groups to consider specific issues of relevance to APRA.  These working groups will have representation from both APRA and the Task Force.  The first of the working groups is operational and is addressing the Variable Fee Approach (VFA).

As noted in the IN, AASB 17 is an accounting standard. The APRA working groups therefore cannot make decisions about the interpretation of AASB 17 but are considering issues that emerge for APRA from the adoption of AASB 17.  As an accounting standard, AASB 17 is a legal instrument that is enforceable by ASIC.


There are many documents that have been produced commenting on IFRS17/AASB17.

There is a list of useful documents and other references in Section 13 of the Information Note (page 202)


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