Following the CDC and WHO's declaration of the Corona virus as a global pandemic, now seems like a good time to relax and give some thought to what an outbreak like this, among other dangers we see in the news can teach us about dealing with risk.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the Novel Corona virus, has now spread from its origins in China to Europe and North and South America. Many people over the globe have now been infected. Tragically, many people in these places have died from complications of the disease.
Beyond this tragedy, concerns have developed over disruptions to our global supply chains, economic systems, and markets. There is the real possibility that these interruptions might impact lives significantly as well.
We can draw some comfort in the fact that this is not our first outbreak. Not only isn’t this the first infectious outbreak we’ve faced as a global society, it probably won’t be the last. As we have both people and goods traveling all over the world and our economies become increasingly more dependent on each other, it is a given that disease transmission and commercial disruption related to it are unavoidable.
What we do to deal with these issues them will be based on how we view risks.
When the WHO declared COVID-19 an epidemic there were a little over 160,000 cases of COVID-19 across the globe, with over 5,000 of those that ended in a death. In comparison, the flu resulted in 280,000 to 500,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 to 41,000 deaths in the United States alone. As Americans, we aren’t panicking over influenza, nor is our media giving the flu anywhere near as much coverage as COVID-19.
There is research that suggests anxiety about potential causes of death has a direct correlation to the degree media exposure. Most of us are not panicking because we have experienced the flu and we know washing your hands frequently and coughing into a tissue and avoiding crowds is about all you can or need to do.
Fortunately, that very same advice will slow down the spread of COVID-19 as well!
People who are panicking over COVID-19, are mostly influenced by the media coverage of it as well as the fact that the investment and sales markets are reacting dramatically. As is often the case, human reactions have less to do with the chance of being infected and more to do with hyped interest and unfamiliarity.
So here's an interesting question: Do you know what is statistically more likely to threaten your life than the coronavirus? If you said automobile, you are correct.
According to a report by the Governors Highway Association (GHA), pedestrian auto fatalities were higher in 2019 than anytime since 1988! “During the 10-year period of 2009 to 2018,” the report says, “the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. increased by 53 percent, from 4,109 in 2009 to 6,283 in 2018.”
It is estimated that there were 6,590 pedestrian fatalities 2019, the highest in over 30 years.
It is postulated that reasons for this rise include the use of smart phones by both pedestrians and drivers. Another potential cause is increased purchases of light trucks and SUVs vs. passenger cars. It could even just be that more people are out walking due to the fact that the weather was warmer in 2019.
However, as the results of this report become known generally, it is not likely that people will change their phone, car-buying, or walking habits. Some risks are accepted because we enjoy the feeling of freedom and control that comes from making our own decisions. Because they are familiar and manageable risk, we ignore them.
If you are interested, there is a study, based on data from 2017 that found that accidental deaths were actually the third-largest mortality category, after heart disease and cancer.
The take home message is that we often respond, or change our behavior, to perceived risks because the media, or some other source, draws our attention to them, rather than their actual likelihood of impacting us.
Risk management is a complex activity. It involves educating ourselves about specific or general risks, learning how we might avoid exposure to those risks, and how we can mitigate the impact of those risks should we suffer from them.
That last part is where the Liveoak Agency can help. We can provide a variety of policies to help mitigate the cost accidents, weather, and the risks of doing business.
Call us today and we can help you decide an insurance policy that is best for you!
The Liveoak Agency is here to provide extensive insurance selections for your home and property. Call us for a policy review of your insurance today!