Taking a note from the familiar Consumer Price Index and consumer confidence surveys, Travelers Insurance this week launched its annual Consumer Risk Index, a national gut check of sorts on how we're feeling about life in general.
It may not surprise you that our mood these days is far from cheery.
In fact, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of us say life is getting riskier, with 68 percent citing money worries and the stresses of providing for their families as their top concern. Just 15 percent of us feel life is getting less risky overall.
Insurance instills confidence
Travelers introduced its new telephone survey, which was conducted by Hart Research between May 20 and June 2, in conjunction with National Preparedness Month, which is designed to remind Americans each September to batten down the hatches during the peak of hurricane season.
While 70 percent of respondents feel that extreme weather is on the increase, 90 percent are very or somewhat confident that they have sufficient home insurance to weather Mother Nature's wrath, and 93 percent have just as much confidence in their auto insurance coverage.
We are far less comfortable with the relatively new threats posed by technology, however. Among those surveyed, 64 percent expressed concern that their bank or financial accounts could be hacked, 63 percent are worried about the potential for ID theft and 48 percent fear they'll lose confidential information if their computer is stolen. Overall, two-thirds (64 percent) are worried that technology could result in a loss of personal privacy.
Most of us are on edge about the threat of texting while driving and overall gadget distraction. Travelers found that 84 percent of respondents are concerned about the proliferation of texting drivers, while 55 percent are just as worried about the dangers posed by gadget-distracted pedestrians. Interestingly, just 31 percent expressed concern that their own gadget use behind the wheel could result in a wreck.
We're more risk-conscious
"Americans realize that many of today's most worrisome risks did not exist half a generation ago," says 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."
So how are we coping with life's growing risks? When Travelers asked, it found that 84 percent of us conduct an annual safety inspection of our vehicles, 83 percent have installed carbon monoxide or smoke detectors in our homes, 78 percent are on constant vigil for texting and gadget-distracted drivers, 57 percent stock up on extra food, water and flashlights for severe weather, and 52 percent have created a family evacuation plan.
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Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.