Pulling the wool, part 94
The comparison website Confused.com has interrogated its database to come up with some curious findings.
The Daily Record (on Friday) and the Daily Mail (today) gave some space to the claim that people who live in British properties with the number 243 on the door have the highest proportion of home insurance claims. Since January 2007, no fewer than 44.76 per cent of such people have made claims, making them the “unluckiest” in Britain, says Confused.com.
The full top ten is in the Table below.
At least two things about this list are striking: the presence in the “top ten” of seven house numbers in the 201-243 range and the extreme precision to which the percentages are quoted.
It’s hard to think of any reason why unlucky or careless people should be more likely to occupy properties within such a narrow range of numbers. Most of the claims (75 per cent) are for accidental loss and damage, with only 4 per cent for theft. In response to a query, Confused.com says that all of the door numbers included occur more than 500 times on their database, so the explanation doesn’t lie in a very small sample.
The site is for seeking insurance quotes, so it is more likely to be used by those denied insurance or facing higher premiums as a result of previous claims. Are high house numbers, perhaps, a marker for social class? Are they more likely to be flats than houses? Is there some multiple counting going on? Of is this simply nonsense, as many may suspect? Confused.com can’t explain these findings, and nor can I.
Quoting the rates to two significant figures must be spurious. To achieve a rate of 44.76 per cent – the proportion of properties numbered 243 that have made a claim - the smallest actual numbers I can come up with are 1,119 claims from 2,500 properties, and it seems unlikely there are that many bearing that number. I’m reluctant to cast aspersions, but I think these percentages have been doctored: journalists like precision, even when it’s invented.
Does it matter? It’s only a bit of fun. Unfortunately, not an original one. The same wheeze was pulled by AXA Insurance six months ago. They produced, unsurprisingly, a completely different list for risks of fire, burglary and flood, with no house numbers over 100 featuring. The “luckiest” were homes with 17 on the door, the “unluckiest” those with 33. I’ll forbear from reproducing the entire list.
And who covered the story? The Daily Mail, of course. Here are their two headlines.
Daily Mail, 17 June 2010