Britons lost £2bn of possessions on public transport in 2021: Would your insurance cover them?

People who lose possessions on the train or bus find themselves nearly £300 out of pocket on average, as the majority of home insurance policies don’t cover their personal belongings when they leave the house.

In the last 12 months, Britons have lost an estimated £2billion of personal belongings on public transport, costing them an average of £288 per item lost.

Only 12 per cent of home insurance policies include personal possession cover as standard, according to research by insurer Direct Line, with 87 per cent offering it for an additional premium. 

Over a third of commuters lost a possession on public transport in 2021, with the total amount of personal items lost on trains, tubes and busses totaling over £2billion

Nearly eight million people lost something while travelling on trains, tubes and buses in 2021, as a whopping 12.8million possessions were reportedly misplaced.

Around 1,500 items are lost every hour, meaning that collectively Britons are losing more than £258,000 every 60 minutes. 

Those under the age of 35 accounted for the lion’s share of lost property, misplacing £1.5 billion worth of possessions last year. 

Experts are now urging Britons to check their home insurance policies to ensure they are covered properly before their next morning commute or weekend away. 

According to MoneySuperMarket, more than 75 per cent of home insurance policies it advertises come with a compulsory excess of only £100, meaning it will still be worth claiming on insurance for more expensive personal items. 

Dan Simson, head of Direct Line home insurance, said: ‘We’re often in a rush or tired when travelling on trains, buses or tubes, so it’s not surprising so many people have left things behind.

You can protect your gadgets with personal possession coverage, available with most home insurance policies

You can protect your gadgets with personal possession coverage, available with most home insurance policies 

‘It can be costly, though, and just losing one item such as a pair of headphones or sunglasses could cost hundreds of pounds.’

He added that it is important to ensure your possessions are insured under your home insurance before you leave the house with your expensive gadgets. 

It is important to check your policy carefully, as some will have restrictive limits on what customers can claim for.   

Angela Pilley, a home insurance expert at Defaqto, said: ‘As everyone’s needs vary considerably, there is no standard level of cover for personal possessions in the market.’  

How much a policy will pay out for lost possessions depends on the availability and cost of of the cover, the maximum payout the insurer offers for each particular item, and whether the items are listed on the policy or not. 

While certain items will be included as standard, others will need to be added on as an additional option by the policy holder. 

This is particularly the case for more expensive items that may be above the policy’s per-item limit, such as money, mobile phones and pedal cycles.

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Pilley said customers should check if their policy’s limit is ‘enough to cover the maximum amount of all their possessions whilst out and about.’ 

She added: ‘The amount you request is for all your family, so if mum, dad and the children are out for the day consideration needs to be given to the maximum value of everything you could take with you.

‘This includes everything you are wearing and carrying including spectacles, clothing, a handbag, items of jewellery and all portable tech equipment.

‘In addition to this, there will be a single-item-limit and any individual item valued over this would have to be specified on the policy for cover to apply. 

Not Included Included Additional Option 
Mobile Phones 3% 89% 8%
Pedal Cycles 1%60%39%

‘With limits varying from £250 to £15,000 it is important to consider the maximum value of any one item that you take outside your home and ensure that the limit-per-item is sufficient or if required arrange for it to be individually listed on the policy.’ 

She also said that some policies may not cover specific gadgets or possessions such as mobile phones, money or bicycles.  

Simson agreed, urging consumers to check with their provider.

‘Whenever insurance policies are purchased, we always advise customers to read in detail what is covered and any exclusions, to ensure that the cover meets their requirements,’ he said.

‘This includes listing higher-value specified items, for example a possession that is worth more than the individual item policy limit. 

‘If a customer is unsure about which items to list, then we would encourage them to speak with our insurance advisors to discuss what should and shouldn’t be included, as they will be able to support in these discussions.’   

Finally, Pilley advised travellers to be aware of the excess they agree to when they opt for home insurance with personal possession cover.

She said: ‘In the current marketplace it is typical for the excess applicable to claims under the personal possessions section to be the same as a claim for contents in the home. 

‘However, some providers apply a higher excess should a claim be made for personal possessions away from the home.’

Around 93 per cent of policies available apply the same excess for personal possessions as for the contents cover, with only 3 per cent applying a reduced excess and 4 per cent increasing their excess for personal possession claims.