#60 | On Cost Curves

In theory, all Universal Life policy charges should look fairly similar. But if you actually pull the policy expense reports, you’ll see some dramatic differences that can be chalked up primarily to actuarial creativity. Each product is telling a different story that plays out in premium levels, cash value, distribution efficiency and sensitivity to crediting rates. The primary place where you see these stories play out is in the Cost of Insurance charge curve. Theoretically, COI charges should look like a steady percentage of the population mortality table (such as the 2001 CSO). Mortality tables always have an extremely steep slope, but cost curves in life insurance products often don’t because flatter curves create more competitive death benefit solves. This brings up an important issue. If we know that policy charges are not guaranteed and that the carrier is making assumptions that meaningfully diverge from the population experience, might policies with flat curves need corrections in the future?