Difference Between GAAP and Statutory Accounting (With Table)

Every industry follows some sets of principles for preparing financial statements. These sets of principles indicate the way of financial transactions which need to be conducted following certain rules and regulations of the statutory bodies. Some of these statutory bodies are GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and SAP or Statutory Accounting Principles. 

GAAP vs Statutory Accounting 

The main difference between GAAP and Statutory Accounting Is that GAAP is followed to provide useful insights to investors and shareholders for researching a company’s financial health. On the other hand, Statutory Accounting Principles targets insurance company’s solvency-based accounting methods. Statutory Accounting Principles are designed to enhance the transparency of the liquidity and assets of insurance companies.

GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are a set of accounting standards and principles generally issued by the FASB or Financial Accounting Standards Board. GAAP is a combination of the commonly accepted ways of reporting and recording information related to accounting and authoritative standards. GAAP aims to enhance the consistency, comparability, and clarity of financial information communication.

Statutory Accounting Principles or SAP refer to a set of accounting regulations issued by the NAIC or National Association Insurance Commissioners for preparing the financial statements of an insurance firm. SAP aims to ensure the insurance firms’ solvency so that they can fulfill the obligations of their policyholders.

Comparison Table Between GAAP and Statutory Accounting

Parameters of Comparison GAAPStatutory Accounting
Industry differencesEvery company in the U.S. needs to follow GAAP. When the companies file their financial reports, they are required by the U.S. Exchange and Security Commissions to follow GAAP.Only insurance companies need Statutory Accounting. The NAIC or National Association Insurance Commissioners follow the SAP or Statutory Accounting Principle framework for recording the companies’ financial transactions.
Purpose The main purpose of GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles is to ensure that reporting of the financial statement is consistent and transparent from one company to another.Insurance companies prepare their financial statements under the guidelines of Statutory Accounting Principles. This financial information allows investors to understand whether insurers are capable of paying insurance claims.
Value of AssetFinancial reports prepared under GAAP are assets of the company which increases the overall asset value of the company.Statements prepared under Statutory Accounting Principles are used to identify a company’s current value. These are supplies, tax credit, goodwill, and so on. 
Matching Principle When preparing the financial statements of the companies, GAAP follows the matching principle.Statutory Accounting Principles do not follow any matching principle.
Value of Equity Under GAAP entity value is recorded as a stockholder. GAAP has relatively less strict rules related to the net income calculation of the companies.Under the Statutory Accounting Principle entity value is recorded as statutory policyholder surplus. It has strict rules related to the net income calculation of the insurance companies.

What is GAAP?

GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles refer to a set of accounting standards and principles generally issued by the FASB or Financial Accounting Standards Board. GAAP is a combination of the commonly accepted ways of reporting and recording information related to accounting and authoritative standards.

The main purpose of GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles is to ensure that reporting of the financial statement is consistent and transparent from one company to another.

GAAP has 10 main principles- Regularity Principle, Sincerity Principle, Consistency Principle, Non-Compensation Principle, Performance of Methods Principle, Continuity Principle, Prudence Principle, Periodicity Principle, Utmost Good Faith Principle, and Materiality Principle.

GAAP makes the process of financial reports transparent. It also standardized definitions, methods, terminology, and assumptions. Financial statements issued by GAAP can be easily compared by the external parties. It allows for efficient and quick cross-company comparisons.

GAAP enables stakeholders and investors to make evidence-based sound decisions as its standards deliver continuity and transparency. The GAAP compliance consistency allows companies to identify strategic business options easily.

Every company in the U.S. needs to follow GAAP. When the companies file their financial reports, they are required by the U.S. Exchange and Security Commissions to follow GAAP. Most other countries follow IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) accounting framework for reporting financial statements. GAAP is more rule-oriented than IFRS.

What is Statutory Accounting?

Statutory Accounting Principles or SAP refer to a set of accounting regulations issued by the NAIC or National Association Insurance Commissioners for preparing the financial statements of an insurance firm.

Insurance companies prepare their financial statements under the guidelines of Statutory Accounting Principles. This financial information allows investors to understand whether insurers are capable of paying insurance claims.

Financial statements prepared under SAP or Statutory Accounting Principle are submitted to state regulatory bodies for reviewing the solvency of the insurance firms, so that they may assure that all obligations are fulfilled by contract holders and policyholders. State regulators look for sufficient surplus and capital in a firm as required by Statutory Accounting Principle for providing a safety net.

The statutory Accounting Principle is developed under the GAAP framework, but the Statutory Accounting Principle mainly focuses on maintaining and recording solvency measures of firms.

NAIC or National Association Insurance Commissioners developed the Statutory Accounting Principle to adhere to 3 main values- recognition, consistency, and conservatism.

Under Note 20 of 2019 fourth-quarter 10-k financial statements AIG or American International Group presents “Statutory Financial Data and Restrictions”. The table in Note 20 shows actual statutory surplus and capital for the general casualty of the insurer and retirement and life insurance line of business compared to the minimum required statutory surplus and capital. 

Main Differences Between GAAP and Statutory Accounting

  1. The main difference between GAAP and Statutory Accounting Is that GAAP is followed to provide useful insights to investors and shareholders for researching a company’s financial health. On the other hand, Statutory Accounting Principles targets insurance company’s solvency-based accounting methods. Statutory Accounting Principles are designed to enhance the transparency of the liquidity and assets of insurance companies.
  2. The main purpose of GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles is to ensure that reporting of the financial statement is consistent and transparent from one company to another. On the other hand, Insurance companies prepare their financial statements under the guidelines of Statutory Accounting Principles. This financial information allows investors to understand whether insurers are capable of paying insurance claims.
  3. Financial reports prepared under GAAP are assets of the company which increases the overall asset value of the company. While Statements prepared under Statutory Accounting Principles are used to identify a company’s current value. These are supplies, tax credit, goodwill, and so on.
  4. When preparing the financial statements of the companies, GAAP follows the matching principle. On the contrary, Statutory Accounting Principles do not follow any matching principle.
  5. Under GAAP entity value is recorded as a stockholder. GAAP has relatively less strict rules related to the net income calculation of the companies. On the other hand, Under the Statutory Accounting Principle entity value is recorded as statutory policyholder surplus. It has strict rules related to the net income calculation of the insurance companies.

Conclusion

The statutory Accounting Principle uses the GAAP framework as its basis, so there are a few differences between these two principles. However, GAAP and Statutory Accounting Principle are not the same. There is some difference between these two sets of principles. The intention of each set of principles is quite different from the other.

The main purpose of GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles is to ensure that reporting of the financial statement is consistent and transparent from one company to another. On the other hand, Insurance companies prepare their financial statements under the guidelines of Statutory Accounting Principles. This financial information allows investors to understand whether insurers are capable of paying insurance claims.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165410110000352
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09638189700000014
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