Sixty-three percent of Americans believe their world is becoming a riskier place, while only 15 percent feel it is less risky. Americans’ greatest concerns are financial security, loss of privacy and identity theft, personal safety and the increased frequency of severe weather.
That is all according to a new Consumer Risk Index, an annual survey from Travelers Insurance on the types of risks that Americans believe to be most common in their everyday lives.
Travelers said the debut of its index coincides with National Preparedness Month, which is observed every September, to serve as a reminder to individuals and families to plan for and better manage unexpected events.
“Americans realize that many of today’s most worrisome risks did not exist half a generation ago,” said Patrick Gee, senior vice president of Catastrophe Response at Travelers. “The Consumer Risk Index provides insight as to what concerns people most, and gives us an opportunity to offer simple, everyday steps on how they can best manage those risks.”
After several years of economic difficulties, financial concerns top the list of issues that weigh most on Americans’ minds. Sixty-eight percent of respondents say they worry about financial risks, including providing for their family.
Technology’s Double-Edged Sword
As technology becomes a more central part of everyday lives, it also contributes to Americans feeling their world is now more risk-prone. Technology-related risks are the second biggest concern identified on the Consumer Risk Index, with 64 percent of individuals worrying about personal privacy loss. When asked to specify, their worries took many forms:
- 64 percent are concerned about their bank or other financial accounts being hacked;
- 62 percent worry about ID theft; and
- 48 percent fear losing confidential information via a stolen computer.
Technology-related concerns are not limited to information being hacked or exposed. An entire new spectrum of personal safety and transportation risks now exist due to technological distractions. Eighty-four percent of respondents say distracted driving is a concern, while 55 percent said the same about distracted pedestrians. Only 31 percent of respondents, however, are concerned that they themselves could get into an automobile accident as a result of their own use of a mobile device while driving.
Extreme Weather Becoming More Frequent
Severe weather is another leading worry, according to the Travelers Consumer Risk Index. Seventy-percent of all respondents believe that severe damaging weather events are becoming more frequent across the U.S. today compared to the last few years.
However, this is also an area where Americans say they feel protected – 90 percent report they are somewhat or very confident that their home or dwelling is properly insured, while 93 percent report the same for their automobile coverage.
How Americans are Preparing
The Travelers Consumer Risk Index identifies steps people are taking to prepare for the unexpected. Among the most common actions:
- Carbon monoxide, smoke detectors – 83 percent say they have installed these devices in their home;
- Annual safety check on their car – 84 percent say they perform this annual inspection, which includes checking tires, fluids, parts, etc.;
- Distracted drivers, pedestrians – 78 percent say they are constantly alert to potentially distracted drivers and pedestrians around them; and
- Severe weather – 57 percent say they store extra food/water/flashlights in the event of severe weather, while 52 percent say they have created an evacuation plan.
The survey was commissioned by Travelers and has a statistical margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. Hart Research conducted a national telephone survey of 806 adults from May 20, 2013, to June 2, 2013.