Major differences between IFRS/IAS and Austrian accounting regulations


In the case of sustained impairment, the entire goodwill is written off to its market value. The valuation is performed at least once a year by applying a valuation model (impairment test). No ordinary amortisation of goodwill is performed.

Intangible assets

According to IFRS, self-developed intangible assets have to be capitalised, whereas they cannot be capitalised under the Austrian Commercial Code.

Land and buildings

Land and buildings, including buildings on third-party land, are valued according to IAS 16, and by exercising the respective choice, also according to IAS 40 at book value minus scheduled amortisation. These are based on the actual duration of use; in accordance with the Austrian Commercial Code, they are mostly also influenced by tax regulations.

Shares in affiliated and associated companies

Affiliated and associated companies that are not consolidated fully or at equity due to their minor significance are recognised at fair value.

As a general rule, participating interests are valued at equity insofar as the company has the opportunity to exercise considerable influence. This is assumed, as a matter of principle, for shares between 20 per cent and 50 per cent. The actual exercising of considerable influence has no bearing on these figures.

Financial assets

According to IAS 39, a different classification system is applicable to financial assets. It classifies other securities into the following categories: held to maturity, available for sale, fair value through profit or loss (FVTPL) and trading portfolio (derivative financial instruments). The main valuation difference that applies to the other securities available for sale, which account for the majority of financial assets, as well as the other securities recorded with effect on income is that these are stated at fair value on the balance sheet date. According to the Austrian Commercial Code, the acquisition costs constitute the maximum valuation limit.

With regard to the other securities available for sale, the difference between book value and fair value is treated within the shareholders' equity without affecting income, whereas in the case of the other securities at fair value through profit or loss, the difference fully affects income. In contrast, when applying the strict lower-of-cost-or-market principle in the Austrian Commercial Code, depreciation always affects income, even in the case of a temporary reduction in value and appreciations in line with the requirement to reinstate original values. In the case of the mitigated lower-of-cost-or-market principle, the write-off is not obligatory if the depreciation is only temporary. Expected permanent impairments, posted as depreciation, affect income according to both the IFRS and the Austrian Commercial Code.


The shares of reinsurers in actuarial provisions are shown on the assets page of the balance sheet in accordance with IFRS 4.

Acquisition costs

Commission as well as other variable costs which are directly related to the acquisition or extension of existing policies are deferred and distributed over the insurance contract terms and/or the premium payment period. The deferred acquisition costs also replace the administrative expense deductions allowed under the Insurance Supervisory Act for premiums brought forward in property and casualty insurance.

Actuarial provision

For the calculation of the actuarial provisions in life and health insurance, regulations deviating from Austrian law apply, which affect valuation variances as well as the allocation between actuarial provisions and provisions for premium refunds. This especially refers to the non-application of the zillmerisation of acquisition costs as well as the integration of the revalued unearned premiums and real final bonus in the life insurance.

Health insurance is mainly affected by the deviating interest rate as well as the application of the most recent parameters, including safety margins.

Provision for premium refunds and profit sharing

Because of the difference in valuation of the assets and liabilities in the area of life insurance, a provision has to be made for deferred profit participation which complies with the national legal or contractually regulated profit sharing and is assessed in favour of the policyholder. The change of the provision for deferred premium refunds compensates to a large extent for the effects of revaluation on the income statement and thus on the results for the year.

Provisions for outstanding claims

In accordance with US-GAAP, provisions for outstanding claims in the property insurance line are basically no longer established using the principle of caution and on a single-loss basis, but rather using mathematical procedures based on probability of future compliance amounts.

Provision for claims equalisation and catastrophes

The establishment of a provision for claims equalisation and catastrophes is not permitted under IFRS or US-GAAP regulations, because it does not represent any current obligations to third parties on the balance sheet date. Accordingly, additions or reversals do not influence the profit for the year.

Pension commitments

The accounting principles used to calculate the pension provision under IFRS are different from those of the Austrian Commercial Code. These are listed in detail in IAS 19. Overall, the individual differences result in greater detail than under the Austrian Commercial Code. This is most notably the result of the stronger weighting of future salary increases and the use of the projected-unit-credit method, anticipating future demographic and economic developments.

Deferred taxes

Deferred tax assets and liabilities are to be created according to IAS 12 for temporary differences arising from the comparison of a stated asset or an obligation using the respective taxable value. This results in an anticipated future tax burden or relief on taxes on income (temporary differences), which are to be reported regardless of the day of the revaluation. According to Austrian business law, deferred taxation is only permissible as a result of a temporary difference between the commercial balance sheet profit and the income calculated according to the tax regulations.

Moreover, according to IAS, deferred taxes for accumulated losses brought forward and not yet used are to be capitalised to the extent that they can be used in the future with adequate probability.

© UNIQA Group 2013