Even though more than half of Americans have been impacted by a natural disaster and understand the risks they face, many have not taken basic precautions to protect themselves and their property from danger and damage.

A study by MetLife Auto & Home reveals Americans' lack of preparedness and their misunderstanding about how to prepare for and recover from disasters.

Among those who say they are unprepared for a natural disaster, 62 percent felt immunity to looming danger and did not think one would happen to them. Further, 20 percent of consumers in high risk areas(1) admit taking no precautions in the last year to prepare for a disaster. And, even in high risk areas, many people who say they are concerned about a natural disaster still do not take action to prepare.

  • In states at high risk for earthquakes(2), two-thirds (67 percent) say they are concerned about the issue, but just half (53 percent) say they are prepared;
  • In states at high risk for wildfires(3), 42 percent say they are concerned about impact from a fire, yet just 30 percent are prepared;
  • In high risk states for hurricanes(4), 55 percent say they are concerned about a storm, and 49 percent say they are prepared.

"Awareness and preparation are key components of mastering disaster, and it's clear that even those who reside in disaster-prone areas - some of whom have recently been through significant events -- admit they're still not prepared," said Mike Convery, chief claims officer, MetLife Auto & Home. "Investing time in preparing can be the single most effective measure people can take to protect their loved ones and property. Creating an emergency evacuation / supplies kit and updating it each year may help keep you and your loved ones safe during or following a disaster."

When a natural disaster strikes, consumers cite modern conveniences as their highest concern. Americans report being more concerned by the prospect of going without electricity or internet access for a period of time (64 percent) than by a serious threat to their safety or that of a family member (56 percent).

Despite having concerns about going without power or other necessities, few Americans took basic disaster precautions such as stocking up on food and water (41 percent), storing a battery-powered radio (21 percent), or purchasing a generator (14 percent). Even among Americans who had warning of an impending disaster, just more than half (53 percent) filled their gas tanks, 42 percent got cash from an ATM and just 38 percent took care of their pets. Consumers in hurricane-prone areas are a bit more prepared: nearly three-fourths (73 percent) thought ahead to fill their car with gas and 43 percent to take care of their pets.

Most Americans have property insurance to help them recover after a loss, but many lack a clear understanding of what is covered by their policies. When it comes to homeowners insurance, almost one-third of homeowners do not know what is covered by a standard policy.

  • One in five Americans living in high-risk hurricane areas falsely believes a flood from a natural disaster is covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy;
  • One-third of consumers falsely believe their homeowners insurance will pay the full cost to rebuild their property in the event of a loss, irrespective of the coverage amount listed;
  • Only 39 percent of Americans correctly answered that water damage from a mechanical failure, such as a burst water hose, is covered under their policy;
  • Slightly more than half (53 percent) believe loss from a home fire is covered, even though the risk of fire is covered by virtually every policy;
  • Still, six in 10 say they have reviewed their homeowners or renter's insurance policy in the last year.