Prudential Financial, Inc.
Valuation of Investments The major portion of our investments are recorded at fair value in the statements of financial position. Fair values are based on quoted market prices or estimates from independent pricing services, when available. However, when such information is not available, for example, with respect to private placement fixed maturity securities, fair value is estimated, typically by using a discounted cash flow model, which considers current market credit spreads for publicly traded issues with similar terms by companies of comparable credit quality. Consequently, changes in estimated future cash flows or in our assessment of the issuer’s credit quality will result in changes in carrying value. For fixed maturities and equity securities classified as available for sale, the impact of such changes is recorded in “Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss),” a separate component of equity. However, the carrying value of these securities is written down to estimated fair value when a decline in value is considered to be other than temporary, and we record the corresponding impairment loss in “Realized investment gains (losses), net” in the statements of operations. The factors we consider to determine if an impairment loss is warranted are discussed more fully in Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements. The level of impairment losses can be expected to increase when economic conditions worsen and decrease when economic conditions improve.
“Commercial loans” are carried at unpaid principal balances, net of unamortized discounts and an allowance for losses. This allowance includes a loan specific portion as well as a portfolio reserve for incurred but not specifically identified losses. The loan specific portion is based on management’s judgment as to ultimate collectibility of loan principal. The portfolio reserve is based on a number of factors, such as historical experience and portfolio diversification. Similar to impairment losses discussed above, the allowance for losses can be expected to increase when economic conditions worsen and decrease when economic conditions improve.
Policyholder Liabilities and Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs The liability for “Future policy benefits” is the largest liability included in our statements of financial position. This liability is primarily comprised of the present value of estimated future payments to holders of life insurance and annuity products where the timing and amount of payment depends on policyholder mortality, surrender or retirement experience. For traditional participating life insurance products of our Closed Block Business, the mortality and interest rate assumptions we apply are those used to calculate the policies’ guaranteed cash surrender values. For life insurance and annuity products of our Financial Services Businesses, expected mortality is generally based on the Company’s historical experience or standard industry tables. Interest rate assumptions are based on factors such as market conditions and expected investment returns. Although mortality and interest rate assumptions are “locked-in” upon the issuance of new insurance or annuity business with fixed and guaranteed terms, significant changes in experience or assumptions may require us to provide for expected future losses on a product by establishing premium deficiency reserves. For example, in 2000 we restructured the portfolio that supports the structured settlement products within our Other Employee Benefits segment to reduce the emphasis on equity investments, which in turn lowered our expected future investment returns. As a result, we recorded a charge to establish a premium deficiency reserve for these products.
Our liability for “Unpaid claims and claim adjustment expenses” includes estimates of claims that we believe have been incurred, but have not yet been reported (“IBNR”) as of the balance sheet date, primarily attributable to our Property and Casualty Insurance segment and the group disability products within our Group Insurance segment. These estimates, and estimates of the amounts of loss we will ultimately incur on reported claims, which are based in part on our historical experience, are regularly adjusted to reflect actual claims experience. When actual experience differs from our previous estimate, the resulting difference will be included in our reported results for the period of the change in estimate. On an ongoing basis, trends in actual experience are a significant factor in the determination of claim reserve levels. In recent years, actual claims experience with respect to our automobile insurance business within our Property and Casualty Insurance segment has been more favorable than the assumptions we used in originally establishing the reserves for these claims, which resulted in a benefit to adjusted operating income for these years due to reserve releases, although we do not anticipate a comparable benefit in 2002. Actual claims experience can also be less favorable than that assumed in establishing reserves, which can require a charge to earnings to increase reserves. For example, we recorded a charge in 1999 with respect to our discontinued healthcare business, increasing the loss we had initially recorded in 1998 in connection with the sale of the business, as a result of adverse claims experience subsequent to our initial estimate of the required reserves.
For most life insurance and annuity products that we sell, we defer costs that vary with and are related primarily to the production of new business to the extent these costs are deemed recoverable from future profits, and we record these costs as an asset known as “Deferred policy acquisition costs” or “DAC” in the statements of financial position. We amortize this DAC asset over the expected lives of the contracts, based on the level and timing of