Thursday, June 03, 2010

Actuarial standards

Rob Weisman in the Boston Globe today reports that MA insurance companies are again proposing increases in small business and individual premiums. A spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield comments that the rates are not "actuarially sound."

It is worth reflecting on that comment because it means a lot. The people who go through the extensive process of becoming actuaries are highly trained in statistics and inference, and their qualifications receive independent review. Equally important, they are professionals of the highest order, in terms of ethical standards. See here, for example.

Simply put, actuaries are not permitted to be influenced by political concerns or the hopes of various constituencies. They will only afix their certification to calculations when they are confident that their professional judgments are sound and would pass review by objective observers.

I have received reports in the last few months of actuaries refusing to certify filings that have been demanded by the Division of Insurance, knowing that those certifications would have been actuarially unsound and therefore inconsistent with their Code of Conduct. Notwithstanding that lack of certification, revised rates have been approved by the Division, an agency also charged with the responsibility of insuring proper capitalization of the state's insurance companies.

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