BNP Paribas Cardif: Italians are more worried and pessimistic in 2021, yet risk awareness is growing

These are the results of the international survey on people’s concerns, expectations and needs carried out by BNP Paribas Cardif with Ipsos: “The survey shows Italy to be one of the most pessimistic nations in Europe, with less ability to project itself into the future but with more awareness of risks”

Published on 26 May 2021

After a year of pandemic, Italians are more concerned about health and work and more pessimistic about the time it will take to return to normal. But there is also something else, which should be considered positively: risk awareness and the desire for protection are increasing. 

These are the results of the international research on people’s concerns, hopes and needs carried out by BNP Paribas Cardif in partnership with Ipsos: a survey carried out on a sample of 21,000 people, in 21 countries and 3 continents (Europe, Latin America and Asia). 

Two years after its first edition in 2019, the research shows the picture of a more worried and pessimistic Italy, both compared to 2019 and the European average. In particular, the fear of job loss and hospitalisation increases, the desire for greater protection for health, family and economic situation grows. 

“The survey shows that Italy is one of the most pessimistic nations in Europe, with less ability to project itself into the future but with more awareness of the risks from which to protect itself,” comments Isabella Fumagalli, CEO of BNP Paribas Cardif. “The pandemic, in fact, on the one hand has depleted businesses and families with particular impact on precarious workers, young people and women, and on the other hand has prevented any planning in the face of uncertainty in the future. People have realized the importance of protection and prevention, particularly in the sphere of health and employment, also thanks to the new proximity solutions adopted promptly by insurance companies during the emergency. An opportunity we cannot miss to set up a new deal with our clients based on an ongoing exchange of ideas that will allow us to better intercept together the needs emerging from the new normality by offering innovative protection experiences.” 

The greatest worries are health and work 

According to the survey, the level of concern is generally high, with the highest percentages concentrated on health and work issues. 

“Interesting to note is how, in Italy, income and financial concerns are even higher than health concerns, with 75% (+2% on 2019) of the sample stating that they fear a loss of income versus 71% (+1%) a serious illness,” points out Andrea Veltri, Deputy CEO Digital Transformation at BNP Paribas Cardif, “In general, all the highest items are a toss-up between health and work issues. both the fear of losing one’s job (65%, 58% in Europe) and the fear of hospitalization (65%) have increased by as much as 4 percentage points compared to 2019. “ 

If in 2019 the fear of a natural disaster, just like a pandemic, affected 49% of the population, now the percentage rises to 56% (+ 7%). In return, new habits have helped to lower fears related to car theft or damage (53%, -4%), assault (49%, -4%), and terrorist attack, (34%, -7%, lower than the European average). 

In Italy, women and young people are the most concerned 

A deeper look at the data shows that, in general, the female sample is more concerned than the male one. 

As far as age clusters are concerned, it emerged that the over-55s are, on average, less concerned: the higher concern for health risks is, in fact, largely offset by a lower sensitivity to risks related to income and economic stability. 

Consistently, the most worried group is that of young people between the ages of 25 and 34, especially with regard to work and the economic situation: 78% say they are worried about losing their income. A second statistic also stands out: 64% of young people report the risk of depression as one of their concerns, well above the average of 51%. 

On the other hand, the very young (18-24) are relatively calm, and are more sensitive to items such as “car theft” than to economic or health concerns. 

The effects of the economic crisis 

As a result of the crisis, 64% of those interviewed have suffered or expect to suffer a reduction in income: a much higher percentage than the European average (58%) and countries such as Germany (45%) and France (48%). 

For 35% of those interviewed, this is due to a temporary reduction in wages, for 24% to a reduction in working hours and for 21% to the loss of their jobs. Precisely because of the emergency, more than half of Italians (56%, compared with 53% at European level) have had to postpone or give up an important purchase. Only 16%, on the other hand, have had or expect to have difficulty in paying their bills: a figure that is surprising when compared with the European average (20%). 

Return to the “normal”: Italians among the most pessimistic 

Yet how long will it take to restore the unemployment rate to pre-Covid levels? Italians are more pessimistic than other Europeans on this matter. Only 3% (7% in Europe) believe it will be necessary to wait until the end of the year, while 59% (compared with 48% in Europe) believe it will take 3 years or more. Globally, however, 13% of respondents believe it will take less than a year to return to pre-pandemic levels, 50% between 1 and 3 years and 38% more than three years. 

Growing risk awareness and desire for protection 

The health emergency has certainly raised awareness of risk, and underscored the importance of protecting yourself from unexpected events. 62% of Italians consider it positive to have the protection of a policy, compared to 55% in 2019. 

However, it is only 7% (compared to 11% in Europe) who define themselves as “very well protected” (+1% on 2019), although the percentage of those who feel “fairly protected” increases (55%, +6%) and those who feel “not very protected” decreases (30%, -7%). 

The pandemic has, therefore, accentuated the Italians’ desire for protection, particularly in certain areas considered most relevant. In first place is serious illness (40%, +7%; in Germany it is only 26%), followed by job loss (36%, +7%; 19% in Germany) and financial loss/reduction of income (35%, +6%). Also up sharply were responses related to chronic illness (32%, +8%), loss of independence (31%, +7%), accident (26%, +6%), and death (23%, +7%). 

Access to credit: focus on health and future readiness 

The crisis has also had a strong impact on the propensity to use credit. The new context redirects projects above all towards health or preparing for the future. 

Italians are inclined to resort to credit to access medical care (54%, + 2%) much more than in other European countries (35%) and to finance children’s education (47%, +5%, compared to 34% in Europe), while the demand for loans for the purchase of real estate, refurbishment or cars declines, mainly for fear of not being able to repay them due to unstable economic conditions. 

Growing popularity of credit insurance policies 

If the appetite for debt falls, the one for credit protection increases. 69% of Italians said they are aware of credit insurance policies (+10% on 2019), with 16% (+2%) having already activated one. Respondents have a positive opinion of this type of product, and see it as a smart way to protect their assets (77%, +3%), their loved ones (76%, +3%) and to “sleep soundly” (74%,+2%). 

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