The Odds of Dying: Perceived risk vs reality

June is National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council. It’s a time to think about reducing leading causes of injury and death at the workplace, in our homes and in our communities. They’ve issued an interesting infographic on the Odds of Dying, noting that Americans often worry about the wrong things – check out the events we think will kill us vs. the ones that actually do, according to the numbers. (You can click for a bigger version).

If you’d like more detail on your personal odds, we have a prior post with a variety of mortality calculators to help you assess your own personal odds for longevity. They include life expectancy tables and a few interactive calculators. We leave you with two words: Life Insurance!


The luckiest unlucky man to ever live

Insurance is all about calculating the odds and planning for risk. Croatian music teacher Frane Selak defies the odds – watch his incredible story.

In a postscript to this story with a nice twist, Mr. Selak explains how he felt about things:

“I never thought I was lucky to survive all my brushes with death. I thought I was unlucky to be in them in the first place.”

He added that people were always telling him he was lucky to have survived so many disasters but he added: “I always think I was unlucky to have been in them in the first place but you can’t tell people what they don’t want to believe.”

In later years, he had a life change that made him realize he really did have “a charmed and blessed life.

The Odds

Like the rest of the world, we were pretty riveted to the YouTube videos and news reports of the meteorite that crashed in Russia last week. It’s not a terribly rare event – space rocks are flying around wildly and frequently hitting earth, but usually in remote locations. But it’s quite the rarity to have an event that was so widely witnessed and shared.
Insurance is a business that’s all about odds, so we were delighted to find the article Odds of Death by Asteroid? Lower Than Plane Crash, Higher Than Lightning. Author Adam Mann tells us:

While rocks raining from space are scary and there is no way to completely eliminate their threat, they are also thankfully sporadic. Your odds of getting killed by a meteorite are roughly 1 in 250,000. You are far more likely to die in an earthquake, tornado, flood, airplane crash, or car crash (but less likely to be killed by lightning). Most asteroids burn up in the atmosphere long before they hit the ground and the few that do will probably hit open ocean or a remote part of the Earth rather than your head.

His article includes a great video clip and a chart about asteroid size. frequency, and damage potential. And if you’d like to get a sense of what it feels like to have a close encounter, National Geographic features The True Story of History’s Only Known Meteorite Victim: A woman named Ann Hodges was hit by a meteorite in her Alabama home in 1954 and lived to tell the tale.
Would insurance cover property damage from a meteorite? Insurance Journal has the topic covered:

Although such an event is relatively rare, AIR noted that “in many countries with developed insurance markets, a comprehensive multi-peril insurance policy generally will cover all risks that are not specifically excluded, meaning that meteorite damage would generally be covered. The dwelling portion of the homeowner policy is very broad and, if damage from falling objects is not listed in the exclusions, it is generally covered.” [IJ Ed. note: The Russian government has given a preliminary damage estimate of one million rubles [app. $32.2 million].

Don’t lose too much sleep over meteorite stirikes – but you might check that life insurance policy just to be sure!
Here are a few (fun) past posts that also deal with odds:
What are the odds? Mortality calculators
Life expectancy and your chances of reaching 100
Don’t be a lightning strike victim!
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