Swiss Re Life Execs Say Mortality Improvements Not A Sure Thing
By Jim Connolly
NU Online News Service,
That's a tough call, according to Tracy Choka, director of applied research and development at
Swiss Re Life & Health America,
"As an industry, we have got to really watch it," Choka argues.
The positive trends that Choka cites include improvements in cardiovascular health, the availability of more genetic information and the decline in smoking.
The 1975-80 mortality tables assume a 30% prevalence for smoking. Smoking prevalence has dropped to 8% to 10% in the 1990-95 table.
But Choka says infectious diseases and increasing obesity rates add some uncertainty to mortality forecasts. Although new drugs and education could help fight obesity, lifestyle choices could slow improvement, she adds.
Because of these mixed signals, it is important for insurers to take care when fine-tuning preferred risk underwriting categories, Choka says.
Weldon Wilson, Swiss Re Life's chief executive, emphasizes that any underwriting improvements must be cost effective.