What Is the Death Clock? Is It Right?

Ian Lewis[1]

Ian Lewis

Money Savings Advice What is the death clock?

While some would argue that the so-called “death clock” and “death date” are based on statistical information, algorithms and forecasts, in reality, they are at best-informed calculations.

However, they can give an interesting insight into how issues such as obesity can impact life expectancy.

Many people see the death clock/death date calculations as an interesting wake-up call for those with a less than healthy lifestyle.

Even if these “informed calculations” result in an individual, perhaps taking more notice of their lifestyle, their weight and their diet, then many people would see this as a positive result.

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What Is the Death Clock?

The death clock is a tongue in cheek Internet service which uses information such as date of birth, gender, BMI, smoking habits, lifestyle and general outlook on life as a means of calculating your potential date of death.

Even though the death clock has been dismissed by experts, it does offer an interesting insight into how different lifestyles can impact life expectancy. For example, entering a particular set of variables and changing between smoker and non-smoker will reduce the life expectancy of the smoker – as we all guessed.

Is It Possible to Predict My Date of Death?

The simple answer is, no. This is an Internet phenomenon which has caught the attention of many people because it basically uses gender, age and lifestyle variables to calculate your date of death.

There are numerous copies of the original death clock/death date applications which are used as a means of harvesting information which could be used to hack social media accounts and undertake identity theft. So, when adding your private information to death clocks/death date applications, be very cautious!

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Do Insurance Companies Use a Death Clock Formula?

Interestingly, while insurance companies do not use a death clock type application as such, they do undertake regular statistical analysis of the UK population. They can predict with alarming accuracy the percentage of individuals who will die of a particular illness.

This data also allows the risk profile of particular age groups to be calculated again and again with a relatively impressive degree of accuracy. However, these are generalisations because individuals vary their lifestyle, vary their diets and put themselves at risk in numerous different ways.

How Does the Insurance Industry Work?

The insurance industry is built upon a highly statistical business model which takes into account historic and current data on the UK population that includes age, gender, lifestyle and ultimately life expectancy.

This information allows insurers to calculate, with a certain degree of accuracy, how many people will die of a certain illness and the likelihood of dying in a certain age group in the UK. This allows individual insurance companies, and the huge insurance markets such as Lloyds, to calculate potential liabilities per insurance company and price premiums accordingly.

The profit and loss per insurance company may differ from expectations when taking one year in isolation but in general they are very good at predicting average trends and including a degree of profitability in their premium/payout calculations.

Do Smokers Still Pay Higher Life Insurance Premiums?

The simple answer is yes. You will notice that one of the questions when taking out life insurance is whether or not you smoke. As we touched on above, the tongue in cheek death clock will calculate an earlier date of death between smokers and non-smokers with all other factors being equal.

Whether the estimated difference in life expectancy between smokers and non-smokers is correct is a different question. Even if you have been a previous smoker, this may still impact the level of life insurance premiums.

Why Do Electronic Cigarette Users Attract Higher Life Insurance Premiums?

At this moment in time, the jury is out with regards to the impact of electronic cigarettes on the health of users. As a consequence, many insurance companies see e-cigs in a very similar light to tobacco cigarettes.

This is likely to continue until they receive irrefutable evidence of a difference in health consequences at which point they will no doubt make the necessary adjustments. However, while there is this degree of uncertainty, life insurance companies tend to err on the side of caution.

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Why Is BMI So Important When Looking at Life Insurance?

We all know that obesity is a huge problem in the UK which is why insurance companies will request your height and weight in order to calculate your BMI. Those who are overweight are susceptible to an array of specific ailments and may indeed see a reduced life expectancy compared to the average person.

While many people argue that life insurance companies should not discriminate against those who are obese, this is purely a factual situation based on very detailed algorithms.

If you put yourself in the shoes of an insurance company, how would you approach life insurance premium pricing for two individuals with different BMIs, all other factors being equal? If statistically, the individual with a higher BMI is more at risk of life-threatening conditions, then it is fair to say that this situation would demand higher premiums.

Which Factors Impact Life Insurance Premiums?

There are many factors which will impact life insurance premiums for individuals which include age, gender, health history, family health history, occupation, lifestyle and whether or not you smoke. Therefore, if you could improve your current health and your overall lifestyle then conceivably, this should have a positive impact on your future life insurance premiums.

Why Is Lifestyle Relevant to Life Insurance Premiums?

Insurance companies are always keen to gather information which will allow them to build up a picture of your general lifestyle. As your lifestyle has a significant impact on your health and your well-being going forward, it is only fair that life insurance companies should take this into account when calculating your premiums.

The insurance industry is benefiting from “big data” which allows unnervingly accurate calculations about general life expectancy, etc.


While the so-called death clock/death date has attracted much attention on the Internet, it is unlikely those behind the application have anywhere near the same level of data available to UK insurance companies.

This does, however, shine a light on how insurance companies calculate average death payments, life expectancy and other issues which will impact premiums for individual life insurance policies. The industry today is very much focused on in-depth statistical analysis which has revealed a huge array of trends in all areas of society.

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Money Savings Advice Author Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis

Ian Lewis is one of our specialist financial writers. Ian has over 15 years of financial writing experience, having worked for some of the largest financial publications in the UK covering topics from mortgages, equity release, loans and financial claims, to name a few.

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