America’s Businesses Vexed by Medical, Legal, Tech Risks: Survey

May 21, 2014

Regardless of size, American businesses say medical cost inflation, legal liabilities and technology risks are among their top concerns, according to an annual Business Risk Index from Travelers.

The survey polled more than 1,100 business decision makers on what they believe poses the biggest threat to their business.

Many leaders said the risks they identified as their biggest concerns are also the issues their business is least prepared to address.

“While the new Business Risk Index revealed some typical risks for businesses, it also uncovered some uncertainties that are indicative of the times, including medical cost inflation and technology risks,” said Bill Cunningham, executive vice president of Business Insurance at Travelers in a statement.

Survey results showed:

  • 67 percent thought medical cost inflation was a leading risk for their business.
  • 58 percent cited legal liability issues, such as omissions and errors.
  • 53 percent were concerned about technology issues including data risks, such as hacking and viruses.
  • 52 percent reported concerns with understanding and complying with U.S. government laws and regulations that may affect their business or industry.

Despite the fact that 48 percent of respondents believe the world is growing riskier, only about one in four (24 percent) business decision makers say that preventing, preparing for and responding to risk is a strategic priority. Of this group, small businesses were least likely to name risk management as a strategic priority or an important management activity compared to large and medium-sized companies.

Additional Concerns

American business executives worry about numerous other risks:

  • 60 percent of respondents believe that extreme weather events are happening more frequently
  • 37 percent believe the increase in severe weather frequency and severity poses an increased risk of damage to their business (e.g., damage to property, equipment, facilities or vehicles).
  • 55 percent of those surveyed have a business continuity plan in place, and only 30 percent of small business decision makers reported having a business continuity plan.
  • Access to capital and financial issues worry 47 percent
  • At 42 percent, risk to corporate reputation is also a mid-level concern.
  • Concerns about employee safety and global economic risk were cited by 39 and 40 percent of American business executives, respectively.

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