Insurer’s Survey: Americans Say World Is Getting Riskier

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A new survey by The Travelers Cos. found that Americans say the world is getting riskier, and they are worried about money and financial concerns more than anything else.

The property-casualty insurer conducted its first ever Consumer Risk Index, which it plans to release each September for National Preparedness Month. The survey of 806 Americans found that 63 percent say their world is becoming a riskier place while 15 percent say their world is becoming less risky.

“We hope that by identifying these trends, we can just add our voice to the national dialogue around preparation and prevention and help everyone be better prepared for the unexpected,” said Patrick Gee, Travelers’ senior vice president of Catastrophe Response and Auto, Homeowners Claim.

Travelers asked respondents what they worry about most, and the top five answers, in order, were: financial concerns, risk to personal property or identity theft, serious health problems, personal safety concerns, and extreme weather or natural disasters.

People may be more aware of risks because of the easy availability of media that offer news and images of dangers ranging from boa constrictors in the Everglades to raging rivers in Colorado. But there is also concern because of the increasing frequency of abnormal weather. Travelers has tried to lessen damage, and therefore claims, before and during a weather disaster, such as the October snowstorm of 2011.

“We’re creating very specific, very tangible pieces that we get out in e-mail and other forms relative to helping customers particularly in a situation like that, when snow starting to build up, there’s actually some action to take …,” Gee said.

For example, during Storm Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, Travelers sent advisories to its customers and agents with tips to prepare a home for the storm and also advice on evacuating.

In the survey, more than half of Americans have taken certain precaution to safeguard their home and cars: 83 percent have installed carbon monoxide and smoke detectors; 84 percent have an annual safety check for their cars to inspect tires, parts and fluids; 78 percent are constantly alert to distracted drivers and pedestrians; and 52 percent have an evacuation plan for extreme weather.

Other precautions are far less common: 34 percent have installed and use a burglar alarm; 22 percent have flood insurance to cover damage not included in a homeowner’s or renter’s policy; 17 percent buy vacation insurance for a refund if their trip is canceled due to illness, extreme weather or other circumstances.

The survey was commissioned by Travelers and has a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The survey is available at



About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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