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Emerging risks and how consumers and businesses are mitigating them

A study from the 2017 Travelers Risk Index

The 2017 Travelers Risk Index surveys found that consumers and businesses perceive global conflict, cyber and the changing workforce as the greatest threats. (Photo source: Shutterstock)
The 2017 Travelers Risk Index surveys found that consumers and businesses perceive global conflict, cyber and the changing workforce as the greatest threats. (Photo source: Shutterstock)

The annual Travelers Risk Index was recently released for 2017.

The yearly report identifies the overall perception of risks for consumers and business leaders and what worries them most. The study also identifies emerging trends among consumers and businesses separately, and whether each view these trends as great opportunities, great risks or both. 

The 2017 Travelers Risk Index was compiled by Hart Research, which issued two national online studies this past spring. One surveyed 1,203 business decision-makers, and the second surveyed 1,016 consumers ages 18 to 69 about each group’s overall perception of risks, emerging trends, and their related risk-mitigating behaviors. 

Related: Top 5 personal risks, according to the Travelers Risk Index

Emerging trends and risks among consumers 


Consumers surveyed in the Travelers Risk Index identified which of the 12 emerging trends posed the greatest risk to themselves and their families. The responses show the most worrisome risks are ones that relate to conflict, cyber, the environment and the changing workforce.

With the greatest response, 51% perceive global political conflict, terrorism and social unrest as the greatest risk posed to the consumers surveyed and their family members. Following this risk is domestic political conflict and social unrest, listed by 39% of respondents, and the rise in cyber threats from the increased use of internet-connected devices (31%). 

Related: Interest in travel insurance terrorism coverage on the rise Emerging trends and risk perception among consumers

The survey results showed that consumers also worry about threats relating to the natural world, including climate and weather volatility, global epidemics and constrained natural resources.

The changing workforce is another concern, according to the Risk Index report. Consumers are concerned about their market value and whether they have the new skills needed for today’s businesses. Other related worries consumers cited included their ability to stay competitive in the job market, and concerns about U.S. jobs continuing to move overseas.  

Emerging trends and risks among businesses


The changing future workforce is a major concern for businesses as well. With 38% of the response, the changing future workforce – aging workers, the influx of millennials and the changing worker skill availability – was the greatest risk cited in the Business Risk Index survey conducted by Travelers and Hart Research Associates.

This particular survey in the Travelers Risk Index (see right) identified 12 emerging business trends and business owners’ perceptions of each as either great opportunities, great risks, or both. The survey also analyzed the strategies and tools business owners use to mitigate risk.

The emerging trends that rank highest in terms of opportunity all revolve around emerging technologies that connect people with products and information.

 Related: Science leads the way for a tidal wave of disruption

According to the survey report, the biggest opportunities identified by small and midsized businesses include e-business (the increasing use of digital platforms, including mobile, to conduct commerce or make online purchases) increased connectivity and social media.

Among large businesses, increased automation (including “smart” technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence) ranks first. This is followed by e-business and increased connectivity.

Businesses overall are split when it comes to globalization: 17% say it’s an opportunity and the same percentage (17%) perceive it as a threat. 

Related: 8 biggest threats to business clients

How businesses are (or are not) mitigating these risks 


The survey also inquired about the ways businesses are mitigating these risks. Researchers found that despite their many concerns, a majority of business owners don’t feel adequately protected. 

When asked if they are confident that their businesses are properly insured against all the potential risks they face, only 3 in 10 business owners/executives (30%) said they feel very confident that they are properly insured, and 3 in 5 feel somewhat confident (57%). Emerging trends and risk perception among businesses

This number is slightly better among large businesses, however, as 34% reported feeling very confident — up 27% from last year. The survey also found that 1 in 4 businesses indicate that preventing, preparing for and responding to risk is a strategic priority, with larger businesses more likely to consider it. 

Overall, the report found that 40% of all businesses treat this as an important management activity. Businesses are likely to put into place basic preventative measures that guard against physical harm to employees and premises, such as having emergency exit plans and employee safety training. They are less likely to take measures that represent longer-term investments against less immediate threats, including means for averting cyber risks.

Only 1 in 3 businesses review their data security plans and practices (33%); fewer than 1 in 4 have created a cyber/data breach incident response plan (22%); and fewer than 1 in 4 have established employee data protection education and practices (22%). In addition, only 37% have a periodic review of their insurance needs with their agent or broker, and a little more than half (52%) have a business continuity plan in place.

Related: As cyber risks evolve, businesses are growing complacent, Zurich report says

The full report on the 2017 Travelers Risk Index is available from the company's website

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