The Travelers 2017 Risk Index is out, and for the fifth year in a row, fewer American consumers, business owners and executives think the world is becoming a riskier place.
This year, 52% of consumers say they believe the world is getting riskier, compared to 56% in 2016 and 63% in 2013 when the study was first conducted, as shown in the chart below from Travelers.
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Only 37% of business leaders say the business environment is getting riskier, compared to 41% in 2016 and 44% in 2015. Data analysts say businesses are more optimistic about the general business environment due to declining concern over economic uncertainty. The report notes, however, that midsized and larger businesses are more optimistic than small businesses.
The 2017 Travelers Risk Index was conducted by Hart Research, which issued two national online studies. 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 and what worries them most. The results show steady improvement over the years since the study was first conducted in 2013, but still, both pools say there is much to be concerned about.
Financial worries were once again among the top concerns of both groups, along with cyber threats, transportation and travel safety — including distracted driving, a changing workforce, emerging technology, weather and personal safety.
Both consumers and business personnel cited major concerns over cyber, computer, technology and data threats. The report also examined how Americans are mitigating these risks.
“Rapid technological changes are affecting risk perceptions,” said Patrick Gee, Senior Vice President of Claims at Travelers. “The gig economy, artificial intelligence, and automation are weighing heavily on people’s minds. While these factors present new risks, there are ways to mitigate those risks and protect families and businesses.”
Here are the top five concerns among business executives and owners:
5. Ability to attract and retain talent (51%)
Attracting and retaining talent has ranked among the top five business concerns every year since this survey was first conducted. Specifically, businesses say they worry about finding qualified workers (47%) and retaining them in a competitive labor market (43%). These concerns worsen among midsized and larger companies.
4. Legal liability (51%)
Businesses concerns over legal liability stems from a range of factors. 42% of respondents say they worry a great deal or some about understanding and complying with new U.S. laws and regulations and putting their company at risk. Some companies reported their concern over regulatory changes with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), in terms of both costs (39%) and their ability to understand and comply with potential changes to it (39%).
Businesses also reported concern over liabilities from employees driving their own cars (42%).
3. Increasing employee benefits costs (55%)
As the third most cited concern, 55% of business owners and executives say they worry about employee benefits costs increasing.
2. Cyber, computer, technology and data breaches and risks (56%)
Cyber risks continue to be among the top concerns for businesses, with 56% of respondents citing technology risks and cyber threats as a major concern. Specific concerns appeared the same as in years past. Security breaches ranked as the most worrisome risk (50%), followed by computers suffering damage or crashing (48%). The third-ranked risk businesses say they worry about is someone gaining access to the company’s banking accounts or financial control system (47%).
Related: Protecting against cyber risks
1. Medical cost inflation (61%)
For the fourth year in a row, medical cost inflation is the most worrisome risk among businesses at 61%. Aon Hewitt found in their 2017 Global Medical Trend Rates report that the average medical trend rate is 8.2% in 2017, compared to 8.1% in 2016.
Consumers share some overlapping concerns with business executives about risks. Here are the top five concerns among consumers:
5. Transportation or travel concerns and risks (46%)
This year’s Risk Index found that fewer consumers are worried about risks relating to their physical safety, as transportation and travel risks declined from 54% in 2016 to 46% in 2017.
4. Cyber/computer/tech, and data breaches and risk (54%)
In fourth, 54% of consumers expressed concern over cyber, computer, technology and data breaches and risks.
The 2017 Travelers Risk Index found that women are more concerned than men about cyber threats, and are more likely to take preventative actions like choosing stronger passwords or keeping their social media posts limited or more private.
Among all consumers, 22% said they have been a victim to some kind of cyber breach.
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3. Personal safety concerns and risk (54%)
The number of customers who say they worry about personal safety concerns and risks has declined from 59% in 2016 to 54% in 2017.
Of this 54%, 17% say they worry “a great deal” about this affecting their family, and 38% say they worry “some” about this risk.
2. Identity theft/loss of personal privacy (55%)
A majority of consumers (55%) say they worry about their identity being stolen or are concerned over other personal privacy risks.
When it comes to cyber, 57% of consumers say they worry about online identity theft, and 56% worry about personal information being stolen in a retailer cyber attack.
Related: Assessing identity theft risks
1. Financial concerns and risks (64%)
Although declining, financial concerns and risks continue to be the most worrisome risk among consumers. 64% say this is a concern, compared to 70% in 2016.
Consumers’ cited concerns focus on jobs and money: not having enough money to pay their expenses, to live without debt, to be able to retire, and concern over job stability or job security.