It seems more and more death matching services are making claims about how many deaths they find while presenting nothing to back up their numbers. At Berwyn, we do an analysis every year to make sure our CertiDeath claims are current and verified. In fact, our most recent analysis revealed an increase in the percentage of deaths identified from 95% to 96.5%.

Our research also shows that our closest competitors identify 70% of deaths, at best. How can CertiDeath be so much better? It’s not smoke and mirrors. CertiDeath is the result of millions of R&D dollars, decades of innovation and endless determination by the largest team of data scientists in the industry. None of our competitors have made that kind of investment.

Methodology and Results

We prove our results by comparing the number of deaths in our databases to the official number of deaths reported by the CDC in 2023. Multiple methods were explored, providing consistent results; however, here we present only our most trusted result. Our databases comprise of several data sources including the Death Master File, state records and obituaries. Therefore, they have many duplicated records which must be removed or corrected for when estimating the number of unique mortalities represented in our data.

Our estimate leverages a representative dataset of nearly 6,000 hand-labeled records from the obit-data and death-data databases. Using the hand-labeled records we determined the ratio of unique individuals per row of data, and subsequently the total count of individuals per database in 2023. These results are summarized in the table below:

Database Estimate1 95% CI Lower1 95% CI Upper1
Death Data 38.6% 38.2% 38.9%
Obit Data 86.9% 85.2% 88.8%
Combined 96.5% 94.1% 98.7%

We excluded all records for individuals known to be outside the 50 states + DC (~5% of our records) where location information was available to align with the regions in the CDC count. Additionally, we corrected for the presence of non-resident aliens and undocumented individuals with obituaries in our dataset by adding 3.5% to the CDC value to adjust for this population. Using our lower-limit confidence interval estimate we can thus state with high confidence that our combined dataset has at least 94.1% coverage of all U.S. deaths. This coverage is averaged across the U.S.; coverage will vary state-by-state depending on the presence of state files in the death data database.

The results show CertiDeath finds an average of 96.5% deaths, which is nearly 40% more than our closest competitors. So don’t be misled by competitors making exaggerated claims. CertiDeath is the only true death audit provider to find close to 100% of deaths with 99.9% accuracy. Finding more deaths is important to prevent overpayments, release reserves and preserve the longevity of your fund.

1 As a percentage of the 2023 CDC provisional mortality count as of April 2024 when increased by 3.5% (the portion of the population representing undocumented individuals as of 2018) [DHS: Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States]