NU Online News Service, Jan. 15, 11:06 a.m. – Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Minneapolis, has released the findings of two surveys that suggest Americans are rethinking their priorities in the wake of Sept. 11.

The majority of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers surveyed say their financial well being is a higher priority than their mortality, but that number has fallen 10% since the tragedy. Meanwhile, those who say they are more concerned about their mortality than their finances increased 8%, according to the survey.

These were among the findings of the “Report on American Priorities,” two separate surveys commissioned Allianz.

One poll questioned 800 consumers ages 25 to 45 in August 2001; the other surveyed the same group of consumers in early January.

While the survey findings show a clear shift in priorities, concern for family members was a consistent motivator for the overwhelming majority of respondents, Allianz says.

Most said family concerns were the number-one reason for their priorities, regardless of whether they identified financial well being or mortality as the more important issue in their lives.

Over half of those consumers who said financial well being was most important to them cited stress or concern about family security as the number-one reason. For those consumers who said they cared more about their mortality than their finances, nearly three in 10 (29%) identified the events, likely including Sept. 11, as the reason.

Adding to this uncertainty, there appeared to be a disconnect between how respondents perceived their own level of financial preparedness and how long they could support themselves if they suffered a financial setback, such as serious illness, accident or death.

More than 65% said they were “very” or “somewhat” prepared for such an occurrence (virtually unchanged from August 2001). Yet when asked how many months they believed they could continue their current standard of living in the event of a financial setback, 58% said they would need financial assistance after less than six months; 38% after less than three months; and 13% within a month. All of these numbers have increased since August 2001, suggesting that many more Americans do not have an adequate financial safety net.

More than one-third (35%) of survey respondents said they are now frequently or occasionally thinking about life insurance. Within this group, 36% said they were thinking about it due to family concerns and one in five (20%) said it was because of recent personal events or world events, likely including Sept. 11. Sixty percent of all survey respondents already had life insurance through their employers and 44% had purchased it separately.

Among those who had not yet purchased life insurance separate from their employer, 17% said they had either considered or inquired about purchasing life insurance since the Sept. 11 attacks. The number of those who said they had disability insurance increased 5% and the number of those who said they had long-term care insurance increased 11% since the attacks.