Anyone who knows Tom – and a lot of people do – will agree that there is no more passionate advocate in the cause of life assurance. He makes the case for it morning, noon and night, and at least once a week he makes it in his column in the trade paper Money Marketing.
To be honest, most of the time it’s water off a duck’s back as far as I’m concerned. I have nothing at all against life assurance, but I’m not passionately in favour of it either. On the one hand it doesn’t cost much, especially for those young families with children that Tom’s always going on about, but on the other hand that’s because most of them don’t die at an early age.
But Tom’s column in today’s Money Marketing has jolted my indifference. In it, Tom has unveiled a New Statistic – to the effect that one in 29 children will lose a parent before reaching the age of majority – which, I’m pretty sure, is the age of 18.
I’m no statistician, but that strikes me as a lot. Especially since, as I see it, the reality must be worse – if one in 29 loses a parent, then arguably since there are on average nearly two children per family, that must mean not too far short of two children out of 29 will lose a parent before reaching the age of majority. That would be around one out of 15. (Something tells me there’s something wrong with this analysis, but I can’t see what it is.)
Anyway, or either way, one out of 29 or one out of 15 is enough to worry quite seriously about. I’ve been turning the figure over in my mind since I read it this morning, trying to find something wrong with it. Could it be, for example, that the unlucky children in question are the ones with the incredibly much older and more decrepit dads going round the course for the second or even third time? Or could it be that when the statistic refers to “losing” a parent, it just means “mislaying” – getting separated on a trip round Asda, say, and being reunited at the checkouts? But my theories have been getting more and more fantastical.
It’s still not entirely clear to me that a wodge of cash is an acceptable substitute for a parent, but I can see that it helps. So, all in all, Tom’s new statistic tells me that actually, the case for life assurance is a good deal stronger than I had ever realised.
So all in all, I’m convinced – or very nearly. Just before I change an opinion of a good twenty years’ standing, I wouldn’t mind knowing where that statistic came from.