Underwriting Methodologies and their Impact on Mortality Experience using the Delphi Method

Background and Purpose

The Joint AAA Life Experience Committee and SOA Preferred Mortality Project Oversight Group (“Joint Committee”) has setup the Simplified Issue Accelerated Underwriting & VM20 Practice Work Group (Work Group) to:

  1. Identify and define the current and emerging methodologies used by companies to underwrite policies that will have a material or meaningful impact on anticipated mortality;
  2. Categorize the above methodologies in a way to facilitate the measurement of their impact on anticipated mortality;
  3. Estimate the impact of the categories of methodologies on estimated future mortality relative to standard industry experience tables;
  4. Using the estimated mortality impacts, determine a recommended process for choosing an appropriate mortality assumptions under PBR; and
  5. Present to regulators with the intent to obtain regulatory approval.

The Work Group is interested in utilizing the Delphi technique - a multi-round survey of experts interspersed with communication among the participants – to help draw conclusions regarding the items 1-3 above.

The purpose of study would be to provide practitioners with a framework that clarifies how to categorize different underwriting methodologies, as well as to determine what adjustments should be applied to the base mortality tables to estimate an expected mortality basis for each of the different underwriting methodologies. A desired outcome of the study would be to help get regulatory buy-in regarding the methodologies defined and allowable reserving adjustments. 

Research Objective

The Society of Actuaries is seeking researchers to conduct the Delphi study. The following are examples of proposed topics that may be addressed:

  • Identify and define (or review and clarify pre-defined) categories of current and emerging methodologies used by companies to underwrite policies that will have a material or meaningful impact on anticipated mortality;
  • Determine the anticipated mortality experience under each of the categories of underwriting methodologies; and
  • Determine adjustments to industry standard tables that would be appropriate for the categories of underwriting determined in the study.

The Work Group will provide management, oversight and direction for the project including:

  • Recruiting a Delphi Panel consisting of at least 10 professionals with strong backgrounds in underwriting and mortality table applications. Possible disciplines include actuarial science, actuarial reserving, predictive analytics and underwriting;
  • Working with the researcher in designing the study and drafting the survey questions and provide guidance to the researcher during each step of the Delphi study process; and
  • Reviewing project deliverables and working closely with the Delphi Panel, Work Group, and researcher to ensure study objectives are met. 


To facilitate the evaluation of proposals, the following information should be submitted:

  1. Resumes of the researcher(s), including any graduate student(s) expected to participate, indicating how their background, education and experience bear on their qualifications to undertake the research. If more than one researcher is involved, a single individual should be designated as the lead researcher and primary contact. The person submitting the proposal must be authorized to speak on behalf of all the researchers as well as for the firm or institution on whose behalf the proposal is submitted.
  2. An outline of the approach to be used (e.g. literature search, model, etc.), emphasizing issues that require special consideration. Details should be given regarding the techniques to be used, collateral material to be consulted, and possible limitations of the analysis.
  3. A description of the expected deliverables and any supporting data, tools or other resources.
  4. Cost estimates for the research, including computer time, salaries, report preparation, material costs, etc. Such estimates can be in the form of hourly rates, but in such cases, time estimates should also be included. Any guarantees as to total cost should be given and will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. While cost will be a factor in the evaluation of the proposal, it will not necessarily be the decisive factor.
  5. A schedule for completion of the research, identifying key dates or time frames for research completion and report submissions.  The Society of Actuaries is interested in completing this project in a timely manner.  Suggestions in the proposal for ensuring timely deliver, such as fee adjustments, are encouraged.
  6. Other related factors that give evidence of a proposer's capabilities to perform in a superior fashion should be detailed.
  7. A detailed description of the researcher’s capabilities (policies and processes) to maintain and ensure the confidentiality of work product and final deliverables.

All intellectual property obtained or created during the course of this project will be the sole property of the Society of Actuaries. All proposals will be critically evaluated based on the researcher’s explanation of its ability to maintain the confidentiality required of this project.

Selection Process

The Work Group is responsible for recommending the proposal to be funded.  Input from other knowledgeable individuals also may be sought, but the Society of Actuaries and Work Group will make the final decision, subject to SOA leadership approval. The SOA's Experience Studies Actuary will provide staff actuarial support.

We will give preference to proposers that have past experience with Delphi studies and have a working understanding of life insurance underwriting and reserving. Proposers who work for reinsurers or consultants working with Accelerated Underwriting programs will be considered only if they can demonstrate that they can perform the duties required by the study without any bias.


Any questions regarding this RFP should be directed to Mervyn Kopinsky, SOA Experience Studies Actuary (phone: +1-847-706-3571; email: mkopinsky@soa.org).    

Notification of Intent to Submit Proposal

If you intend to submit a proposal, please e-mail written notification by April 25, 2017 to Korrel Rosenberg

Submission of Proposal

Please e-mail a copy of the proposal to Korrel Rosenberg.

Proposals must be received no later than May 10, 2017. It is anticipated that all proposers will be informed of the status of their proposal by July 19, 2017.

Note: Proposals are considered confidential and proprietary


The selection of a proposal is conditioned upon and not considered final until a Letter of Agreement is executed by both the Society of Actuaries and the researcher.

The Society of Actuaries reserves the right to not award a contract for this research. Reasons for not awarding a contract could include, but are not limited to, a lack of acceptable proposals or a finding that insufficient funds are available. The Society of Actuaries also reserves the right to redirect the project as is deemed advisable.

The Society of Actuaries plans to hold the copyright to the research and to publish the results with appropriate credit given to the researcher(s).

The Society of Actuaries may choose to seek public exposure or media attention for the research.  By submitting a proposal, you agree to cooperate with the Society of Actuaries in publicizing or promoting the research and responding to media requests.

The Society of Actuaries may also choose to market and promote the research to members, candidates and other interested parties.  You agree to perform promotional communication requested by the Society of Actuaries, which may include, but is not limited to, leading a webcast on the research, presenting the research at an SOA meeting, and/or writing an article on the research for an SOA newsletter.