What's more dangerous? A surprising look at everyday risks

Last updated Dec. 2, 2010

The purchase of insurance is all about personal “risk management.” So in the spirit of risk management, we asked Fred Kilbourne, actuary with The Kilbourne Company in San Diego, to again help assess the dangers around us. If you’d like to see more risk comparisons from Kilbourne, read What’s more dangerous? Part 1.

What's more dangerous: Your spouse or a serial killer?  

Dennis RaderRoughly 15,000 people are murdered in the United States annually.  Of these, about 100 are believed to be the victims of serial killers, although some experts believe this category is underestimated and may be as large as 1,000.  Compare this, however, with the number of victims killed by their spouse or intimate partner:  80 percent of the total murder victims are male, and about 10 percent of these were dispatched by their wives.  Females comprise only 20 percent of the victims – but about half of them are done in by their husbands.  Arithmetic leads to an annual estimate of 2,700 people killed by their spouses, which is nearly triple the high-end estimate for serial killers. 

There’s no conclusive evidence that you’re at greater than average risk if your spouse happens to be a serial killer.  One of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history, Dennis Rader (the “BTK killer,” at left) who killed 10 women over a 20-year period, was a church and Cub Scout leader and father of two, and was married to the same woman for 33 years.  She did, however, receive an expedited divorce upon his 2005 conviction for his crimes.

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