Life insurance industry a risk to U.S. stability, IMF says

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – The U.S. life insurance industry has “substantial long-term stability risks” according to a stress test conducted by the International Monetary Fund staff. In a report released Tuesday, the IMF said that prolonged low interest rates “pose a slow burning solvency risk” for life insurers. If low rate stay until 2018, 11 out of 18 life insurance groups would report negative shareholder equity, the IMF said. The industry also faces risk of a sharp spike in interest rates. In addition, rising rates could lead to an increase in policy surrenders as policyholders seek higher yields, leaving the sector vulnerable to liquidity drain. The IMF said it was “imperative” for Congress to set up an independent agency to oversee the industry, an idea opposed by insurance firms, who are now regulated at the state level.

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