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FEMA Data Digest: Financial Resilience

April 2021

To learn more about research at FEMA, please visit: https://www.ready.gov/preparedness-research.

Have questions about this data? Contact FEMA at FEMA-Prepare@fema.dhs.gov

National Household Survey (NHS) Information

2020 NHS Key Findings



32% of adults have not set aside money for an emergency. 40% of adults have set aside no more than $700 for an emergency. 77% of households have homeowners or renters insurance policies. 22% of households have a flood insurance policy

In recognition of April being National Financial Capabilities Month (NFCM), we have leveraged the information we obtained from two research studies that FEMA conducted in 2020. We conducted focus group and survey research to investigate people’s attitudes, perceptions, motivations, and behaviors related to financial resilience. The results from the two studies gave us insight to the thoughts, behaviors, and actions of people who had not saved money for an emergency. The information below comes from our nationally representative financial resilience survey, which includes responses from 500 individuals.

Key Messages: Financial Resilience

91% of people who experienced a disaster reported they incurred a financial impact. Of this group, 37% reported they incurred a “major” financial impact due to a disaster

 Graphic shows the statistics of 91%, 37%, and 9% by shading 3.7 of 10 people icons light blue, 5.4 of 10 people icons shaded dark blue, and .9 of 10 people icons light gray


The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed this key message.

  • Question: Have you or your family ever experienced the impact of a disaster? What was the financial impact of the disaster you experienced?
86% of people think being financially prepared will make a difference during an emergency. 14% of people think being financially prepared will NOT make a difference during an emergency. 9 out of 10 people have or intend to take financial preparedness actions to prepare for an emergency. Graphic shows a gold coin pie chart with 86% of the coin showing with a 14% slice separated from the pie and another gold coin pie chart with 90% of the coin showing and a 10% slice separated from the pie

The following questions were asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed this key message.

  • Question: Do you think being financially prepared will make a difference during an emergency?
  • Question: Which of the following best describes you as it relates to taking financial preparedness actions?
One in five respondents said the greatest barrier to creating a financial plan was that financial planning was too complicated.
How can we make our materials more straight-forward and accessible?
 Number of people found financial planning too complicated. Graphic shows 1 out of 5 by shading of 1 of 5 people icons


The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed this key message.

  • Question: What factors contribute to not having an emergency financial plan?
Having enough money was the greatest barrier to taking key protective actions like gathering supplies, having insurance (e.g., homeowners, renters, hazard-specific insurance, health insurance), and safeguarding documents.
What are the best ways to encourage people to use low- and no-cost protective actions?
 Graphic shows a postcard with a checkmark in a box next to the words “12 ways to prepare”. The following two rows have six pictures each, the pictures represent the following 12 ways to prepare: sign up for alerts and warnings, make a plan, save for a rainy day, practice emergency drills, test family communication plan, safeguard documents, plan with neighbors, make your home safer, know evacuation routes, assemble or update supplies, get involved in your community, and document and insure property.


The following questions were asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed this key message.

  • Question: What does financial preparedness mean to you?
  • Question: What factors contribute to not having supplies set aside in your home to prepare for an emergency?
  • Question: What factors contribute to not having homeowners or renters insurance?
  • Question: What factors contribute to not having additional hazard-specific insurance coverage?
  • Question: What factors contribute to not having health insurance (including disability/other specialized care)?
  • Question: What factors contribute to not having critical documents (e.g., identification, insurance, banking information, mortgage, etc.) stored electronically or in a fireproof/waterproof location?

Data Tables and Charts

Table 1

Perceptions on whether being financial prepared will make a difference during an emergency Total % of Respondents % of Respondents Who Have Not Saved% of Respondents Who Have Saved
A major difference 54% 51%56%
Somewhat of a difference 32% 37%30%
Not much of a difference 7% 4%8%
No difference at all 3% 5%2%
Don’t Know 4% 3%4%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 1.

  • Question: Do you think being financially prepared will make a difference during an emergency?

Table 2

Preparation Stages for Financial Preparedness Actions Percent of Respondents
I have not and do not intend to take any financial preparedness actions (Precontemplation) 11%
I have not taken financial preparedness actions, but I intend to in the next year (Contemplation) 16%
I have not taken financial preparedness actions, but I intend to in the next six months (Preparation) 17%
I have been financially prepared for the last year (Action) 21%
I have been financially prepared for more than a year (Maintenance) 35%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 2.

  • Question: Which of the following best describes you as it relates to taking financial preparedness actions?

Table 3

Factors contributing to not having an emergency financial plan Percent of Respondents
I haven't thought about preparing an emergency financial plan 51%
I do not know how to prepare an emergency financial plan 35%
It's too complicated 21%
I do not have time to prepare an emergency financial plan 14%
I don't need an emergency financial plan 12%
I am not interested in preparing an emergency financial plan 11%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 3.

  • Question: What factors contribute to not having an emergency financial plan?

Table 4

What financial preparedness means to participants Percent of Respondents
Saving money for a disaster/emergency 80%
Purchasing appropriate insurance (e.g., homeowners/renters, hazard-specific like flood or tornado, health) 65%
Cash on hand 58%
Safeguarding important documents 55%
Creating/maintaining a financial plan 40%
Improve credit score/borrowing ability 22%
Other (please specify) 2%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 4.

  • Question: What does financial preparedness mean to you?

Table 5

Factors contributing to not having supplies set aside in the home to prepare for an emergency Percent of Respondents
I do not have money available to purchase the supplies 52%
I haven't thought about setting supplies aside for an emergency 35%
I do not know how prepare for an emergency 24%
I do not have time to prepare and set supplies aside for an emergency 16%
I am not interested in setting supplies aside for an emergency 5%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 5.

  • Question: What factors contribute to not having supplies set aside in your home to prepare for an emergency?

Table 6

Factors contributing to not having homeowners or renters insurance Percent of Respondents
I do not have the money available to purchase homeowners or renters insurance 50%
I haven't thought about purchasing homeowners/rental insurance 26%
I do not know how to purchase homeowners or renters insurance 19%
I am not interested in purchasing homeowners/rental insurance 16%
I do not have time to purchase homeowners or renters insurance 12%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 6.

  • Question: What factors contribute to not having homeowners or renters insurance?

Table 7

Factors contributing to not having additional hazard-specific insurance coverage Percent of Respondents
I do not have the money available to purchase additional hazard-specific insurance coverage 46%
I don't believe I need to purchase additional hazard-specific insurance coverage given my current situation 29%
My homeowners/renters insurance coverage does not require me to purchase additional hazard-specific insurance coverage 18%
I am not interested in purchasing homeowners/rental insurance 15%
I haven't thought about purchasing additional hazard-specific insurance coverage 15%
I do not know how/where to purchase additional hazard-specific insurance coverage 10%
I do not have time to purchase additional hazard-specific insurance coverage 5%
I am ineligible to purchase additional hazard-specific insurance coverage and/or I cannot be covered 4%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 7.

  • Question: What factors contribute to not having additional hazard-specific insurance coverage?

Table 8

Factors contributing to not having critical documents (e.g., identification, insurance, banking information, mortgage, etc.) stored electronically or in a fireproof/waterproof location Percent of Respondents
I cannot afford health insurance 57%
I am in-between coverage or waiting to get approved for health insurance 17%
I am not eligible for health insurance 15%
I don't have to time to get health insurance 9%
I am not interested in obtaining health insurance 8%
I am unclear how to obtain health insurance 7%
I don't think I need health insurance 2%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 8.

  • Question: What factors contribute to not having health insurance (including disability/other specialized care)?

Table 9

Factors contributing to not having critical documents (e.g., identification, insurance, banking information, mortgage, etc.) stored electronically or in a fireproof/waterproof location Percent of Respondents
I do not have the money available to purchase this type of storage equipment 36%
I haven't thought about purchasing this type of equipment 32%
I don't trust storing important documents electronically 23%
I do not know where to purchase this type of storage equipment 14%
I am not interested in purchasing this type of equipment 11%
I do not have time to purchase this type of equipment 9%

The following question was asked of financial resilience survey respondents; their responses informed the data points in Table 9.

  • Question: What factors contribute to not having critical documents (e.g., identification, insurance, banking information, mortgage, etc.) stored electronically or in a fireproof/waterproof location?

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