Money, Safety and Privacy Keep Us Awake at Night

Job losses. Data breaches. Terrorism. The world can be a scary place, and most people think the risks are growing, according to a new index from The Travelers Cos.

The insurance company surveyed about 1,000 consumers in April and about 1,200 business owners and managers in January for its 2016 Travelers Risk Index.

Here are the things consumers say they worry about most, and the percentages of those who worry some or “a great deal” about each.

1. Financial concerns, including job losses, money problems and the economy: 70%.

The lower your income, the more likely you’re worried. Of those with a household income below $90,000, 74% worry some or a great deal about financial risks, compared with 61% in households with an income above $90,000.

2. Personal safety, including car wrecks, crime and terrorism: 59%.

Women are more likely to worry than men, 64% versus 54%.

3. Identity theft and privacy loss: 55%.

Older people worry more than younger people: 60% of those ages 40 to 69, versus 49% of 18- to 39-year-olds.

4. Travel and transportation risks, including traffic accidents: 54%.

5. Cyber risks, including data breaches: 51%.

6. Food safety concerns: 38%.

7. Extreme weather and natural disasters: 34%.

Our shifting concerns

Overall, 56% of people believe the risks they face are growing, down from 63% in 2013, the year that Travelers launched the annual index, and down slightly from last year’s 57%.

Worries about extreme weather and natural disasters fell to No. 7 this year from No. 5 in 2015 and No. 4 in 2014 and 2013. That drop may be shaped by recent weather. Hurricane Matthew may be on the horizon, but a devastating hurricane or tropical storm hasn’t hit the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Anxiety may be fueled by news coverage rather than actual risk, says Patrick Gee, senior vice president of claims at Travelers Insurance. Food safety concerns rose to No. 6 from No. 7 in 2015, for instance. That might be because of well-publicized outbreaks of food-borne illnesses, such as the E. coli outbreak at Chipotle.

The sheer amount of information out there can be desensitizing, Gee says, but it could be risky to become complacent. “This is a great time to take stock about what we need to do in case the unexpected happens,” he says.

What to do

Financial concerns have topped the list of worries each year Travelers has compiled the index. Given worries about job stability and the general economy, that makes sense, Gee says.

“We believe one of the key things to address [financial concerns] is education,” he says. “The more you know, the more you can prepare.” For example:

  • Talk to a financial advisor, Gee advises, and evaluate the real risks you face. Review your insurance policies to make sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage. According to the survey, 43% of consumers review their insurance needs less than once a year.
  • Take simple steps to maintain and weatherproof your home to prevent damage. When the sun is shining, bad weather may not be at the top of your mind. But the largest number of home insurance claims are weather-related, Gee says.
  • You can save yourself a lot of heartache by installing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Fire damage leads to the most expensive home insurance claims.
  • Make an evacuation plan in case of disaster, Gee advises. Only half of households have one, according to the survey. The plan should identify a couple of routes and a meeting place for the family if you get separated.

You can’t help but worry a little about what might happen. But you can take a look at the risks mostly likely to affect you and take some steps to stay safe. Preparing puts you in a position to cope with whatever life throws at you, and taking action can help quell anxiety.

Barbara Marquand is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @barbaramarquand.

The article Money, Safety and Privacy Keep Us Awake at Night originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Top Workplaces deadline extended to Nov. 16

You say you work for a great company with an encouraging and inclusive atmosphere. You say you have good benefits. You say your bosses are fair, sympathetic, understanding. Then why not share the good news? And there’s still time to do it because the nomination deadline has been extended to Nov. 16. In March, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution...
Delta to launch flights from Atlanta to Ontario, Calif.
Delta to launch flights from Atlanta to Ontario, Calif.

Delta Air Lines announced plans Friday to launch flights between Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Ontario, Calif., adding another way to get from Atlanta to Southern California. Atlanta-based Delta plans to operate one daily flight on the route starting April 22, 2019 and a second daily flight starting June 9. The route will be flown with...
UPDATED: Gulch deal off agenda for Wednesday City Council meeting
UPDATED: Gulch deal off agenda for Wednesday City Council meeting

UPDATED: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has pulled a vote on the Gulch deal from the agenda of a Wednesday special called meeting of the City Council, placing into doubt yet again when the matter might come before the body.  City Council President Felicia Moore on Thursday called a special meeting that included a public financing package...
Techstars Atlanta effort to spur growth
Techstars Atlanta effort to spur growth

Tech accounted last year for nearly 300,000 jobs with average pay of $85,681 a year and a total payroll of more than $25 billion, according to the Technology Association of Georgia. The region is a leader in some tech specialties, like fintech, the software behind credit card transactions and credit processing. But much of it starts...
Phipps Plaza breaks ground on luxury remodel, seeks tax break
Phipps Plaza breaks ground on luxury remodel, seeks tax break

Crews in hard hats are about to make Atlanta’s fanciest mall less mall-like. The $300 million remake for Phipps Plaza in Buckhead will include plenty of upscale additions, with one important exception: No new retail stores. In fact, the mall is dropping from three anchor department stores to two, with the recent closing of Belk. Phipps&rsquo...
More Stories