Sarbanes-Oxley governs financial reporting for publicly traded companies, but mutual insurers will likely to be held to very similar standards, according to industry sources."There has been some discussion in the insurance world about whether mutual companies will have to comply with SOX-and from a practical standpoint, they just about have to," says John Sarich, insurance industry marketing manager for FileNet Corp., Costa Mesa, Calif.

If a mutual life insurance company sells annuity products, for example, that insurer will have to track account changes according to SOX rules just as a brokerage firm that sells annuities, he says. "So, if you're an annuity company, and a customer calls and says, 'I want to move my money from the bond fund to the stock fund,' you'll have to record and track the request-as well as what you told the customer."

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