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What Worries Consumers the Most?

Having enough money, staying safe, identity theft, distracted driving - these are the top things that Americans worry about. However, the list of other concerns is getting longer.

The 2016 Travelers Risk Index reported the results of a survey of more than 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 69. These are the things that are especially weighing on their minds.

Finances. Consumers worry about the state of the economy and the possibility of unemployment. They also worry about having enough money to live on. Almost three-quarters of respondents from households with incomes less than $90,000 are somewhat or very worried about this. These worries may be due to the failure of inflation-adjusted median household income to regain 2007 levels.

Personal safety. The possibility of car accidents, home intruders, and terrorist attacks worry 59 percent of Americans. Car accident frequency has been increasing for a decade. High-profile terrorist incidents such as the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub and attacks in France and the United Kingdom may account for these concerns.

Loss of privacy/identity theft. With increasing amounts of information about individuals living online, 55 percent of respondents said they worry some or a great deal about lack of privacy and the possibility of their identities being stolen.

Transportation and travel risks. In addition to the general concerns about car accidents, consumers are afraid that other drivers are looking at their cell phones instead of the road. Three-quarters of Americans worry about this, and almost half worry about distracted pedestrians walking in front of their moving cars.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015 3,477 people died and 391,000 people were injured due to distracted driving.

Cyber risks. With data breaches hitting an all-time high in 2016, it is unsurprising that more than half of Americans worry about cyber risks. Almost two-thirds of those who worry about these risks are concerned about the possibility that their bank and investment accounts may be hacked.

Smart home technology. A minority of American homes use internet-connected home thermostats, security systems, lighting, and so on. Of those who do, almost half worry about hackers compromising their privacy and security or collecting information about their personal behaviors. Smaller numbers worry about electrical failures disabling their systems or hackers taking down security systems to enable burglaries.

Weather. The U.S. Global Change Research Program has reported that extreme weather of all kinds - heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, floods - has increased in recent decades. More than 60 percent of respondents believe it is becoming more frequent, and almost 40 percent perceive an increased risk of damage to their property.

Workforce changes. Keeping pace with new workforce requirements is a concern for one-quarter of Americans, though it is greatest for younger workers.

Insurance can help protect against some of these risks, though not all. Most of them require consumers to take careful steps to prevent losses from happening. Life is getting riskier; prudent consumers will find ways to manage these risks.