What worries US consumers and businesses the most?

The Travelers Risk Index, an annual survey from The Travelers Companies, provides insight into the most pressing concerns of American consumers and business leaders. While fewer respondents believe that the world is becoming riskier, there are shared concerns about cyber threats, the demands of a changing workforce and severe weather.

worry consumers businesses

Consumers report worrying some or a great deal about:

  • Financial concerns (70 percent).
  • Personal safety concerns (59 percent).
  • Personal privacy loss, identity theft (55 percent).
  • Transportation, travel concerns (54 percent).
  • Cyber, computer, technology risks/data breaches (51 percent).

Financial security is the top consumer concern for the fourth consecutive year. The percentage of respondents who annually evaluate their personal risks and insurance needs has continued to decline (from 64 percent in 2014 to 60 percent in 2015 and 56 percent in 2016).

Business leaders report worrying some or a great deal about:

  • Medical cost inflation (59 percent).
  • Rising employee benefit costs (56 percent).
  • Cyber, computer, technology risks/data breaches (54 percent).
  • Legal liability (51 percent).
  • Attracting and retaining talent (50 percent).

Thirty-one percent of business leaders are very confident that they are appropriately and adequately insured. Respondents say they are least prepared to manage their biggest worries — medical cost inflation and rising employee benefit costs.

Shared concerns

Cyber attacks are a significant concern among consumers and business leaders as mobile devices, wearable technology, connected workspaces and smart homes become more common. Half of consumers fear someone will gain unauthorized access to their personal information via smart devices. The report found that victims of a data breach or cyber attack — nearly one-quarter of consumers surveyed — say they have not since taken any greater precautions than those who have not experienced a breach.

45 percent of business leaders worry about the emerging risks associated with increased automation and internet connectivity. Thirteen percent report being very confident that they have implemented best practices to avoid a cyber incident. Eighty-one percent lack confidence in the steps they should take in the event of a cyber breach, and 32 percent have a data breach response plan in place.

Skills gap

Both consumers and business leaders report worrying about a changing workforce and requiring employees to acquire new skills to be successful. More than one-quarter of consumers surveyed are anxious about having the skills to meet workforce demands. Half of the business leaders surveyed report concerns about their ability to attract and retain talent. Forty-nine percent of business leaders view aging employees and the influx of millennials as key disrupters.

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What worries US consumers and businesses the most?