Man bags beat handbags for tech and tablets

25 March 2013

But research shows one person’s treasure is another’s peculiarity – with a kitten, plastic duck, wetsuit and tuning fork all listed as notable possessions

As so-called man bags become ever more popular, men are more than four times as likely as women to carry expensive iPads, tablets and laptops in their bags as their most valuable item, according to research for Nationwide Building Society¹.

Almost two thirds of men carry a bag for their possessions at least some of the time, compared with 95 per cent of women, often with a number of valuable items. Some 18 per cent of men listed a tablet or laptop as their most valuable item as opposed to just 4 per cent of women. Wallets or purses are the most likely valuable to be stolen, with four times as many women as men reporting that they have had them stolen from their bag outside the home (16 per cent versus 4 per cent, 11 per cent overall).

Just under one in five, 19 per cent,  of those surveyed have had at least one item stolen from their bag – yet only 31 per cent of UK adults know for certain that they would be covered for such thefts under their household insurance. A further 38 per cent knew they had household insurance, but did not know whether they would be covered or not for thefts of valuables from their bag outside the home. Men are slightly more likely to know if they would be covered than women (33 per cent to 29 per cent).

Nationwide home insurance offers two different contents insurance policies: 5 Star Defaqto rated Home Insurance, which includes personal possessions cover both in and out of the home as standard; and 3 Star Defaqto rated Home Insurance Essentials, which offers personal possessions cover as an optional extra².

According to the research by YouGov, not all of the lost or stolen possessions were necessarily of significant material value. Unusual items stolen from people’s bags include a flag from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, an anorak, a blood donor card, hearing aids and a wetsuit. Items highlighted as ‘most valuable’ by those surveyed included a kitten, a harmonica, secateurs and the bag itself.

When asked to describe the other unusual possessions in their bags, the following were listed: an Absinthe hip flask, a resuscitation face shield, tick remover, a blood test kit, cotton buds, car wheel unlocking kit, dice, a tennis ball, hair paste, milk, a radiator key, pebbles, a plastic duck, fluff and a tuning fork.

Martyn Dyson, Nationwide’s Head of General Insurance, said: “People very often are unaware of how much valuable property they carry with them, especially given the increasing popularity of expensive smart phones, tablets and laptops. The research shows there is a huge variety of objects that people consider to be particularly valuable or precious, but too few think about the potential financial loss if these items were stolen.

“Many have not checked their contents insurance to see if they are covered or have no insurance cover at all. Others will have unnecessarily purchased individual products to cover a mobile phone or laptop when they are already covered for theft from a bag through their contents insurance. While it is very unfortunate to be the victim of theft, with Home Insurance and Home Insurance Essentials Nationwide strives to ensure that customers have the right level of cover in place to meet their needs, enabling valuable items to be replaced if the worst happens.”

Of those who take a bag out at least some of the time, women are more likely than men to carry between one and three valuable items over £20 (74 per cent to 59 per cent for men). Overall, the item listed by those surveyed as the most valuable in their bag (in monetary terms) was a mobile phone (34 per cent).

Almost twice as many women as men carry a spare bag in their bag (15 per cent to 8 per cent), while slightly more women than men, 5 per cent against 4 per cent, pack in underwear. Of those surveyed, more men reported shoes as the most valuable item in their bag (two per cent).

Notes to editors:

¹ All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov plc. The total sample size was 2,099 adults, of whom 1,672 take a bag with them at least sometimes when they leave the home. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th and 21st February 2013. The survey was carried out online. These figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

²Nationwide Home Insurance Insurance offers two different household insurance policies, 5 Star Defaqto rated Home Insurance and 3 Star Defaqto rated Home Insurance Essentials.
Defaqto is an independent financial research and software company specialising in rating, comparing and analysing financial products and funds.

5 Star Defaqto rated Home Insurance and 3 Star Defaqto rated Home Insurance Essentials:

  • Home Insurance contents policies automatically includes Personal Possessions cover, which covers personal effects that are normally worn, used or carried, including pedal cycles, away from the home. This is offered as an additional option under contents cover with Home Insurance Essentials.
  • Each policy has different limits for unspecified personal possessions, pedal cycles and individual item limits (for valuables or personal effects, whether covered inside the home only or inside and outside the home).
  • Nationwide’s Home Insurance and Home Insurance Essentials are underwritten by UK Insurance Company Ltd (UKI).
  • Terms, conditions, exclusions and limitations apply.
  • More information on Home Insurance and Home Insurance Essentials, can be found here:

About Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as the second largest savings provider and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accountscredit cardsISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million members.

Customers can manage their finances in branch, on the telephone, internet and post.  The Society has around 15,000 employees.  Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline.  The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

Please note: If you are a customer looking for information on our products and services, please visit the main website.