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deferred acquisition cost (DAC)

The amount of an insurer's acquisition costs incurred as premium is written but earned and expensed over the term of the policy.

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The unearned portion is capitalized and recognized as an asset on the insurer's balance sheet. Under statutory accounting, all acquisition costs are 100 percent earned and expensed at inception of the policy, creating an immediate reduction in surplus. In life insurance, acquisition costs are recognized as premium is earned, creating a tax effect referred to as the "DAC tax."