Careless Brits leave beach bag valuables up for grabs

Article date: 7 August 2006

There was a time when the humble beach bagcontained nothing more than a pair of cheap sunglasses and a lot ofsand, but new research out today reveals it’s now jam-packedwith trendy accessories and designer goods worth over £500.

The research also reveals that one in fourBrits (26%) happily leave their personal belongings unattendedwhile they go for a swim or pick up an ice cream, providing thieveswith the perfect opportunity to steal expensive belongings.

According to the survey by Norwich UnionInsurance, a typical beach bag contains goods worth an average of£555 including:

  1. Mobile phone (average value £100)
  2. Watch (average value £80)
  3. Digital camera (average value £150)
  4. Cash/credit cards (average value £150)
  5. Designer sunglasses (average value £75)

However, only seven per cent of those surveyedestimated the value of their bag to the correct amount, with nearlytwo thirds of holidaymakers (64%) undervaluing their beach bagbelongings by a whopping 60 percent.

The biggest culprits when it comes to takinghigh-value items with them to the beach are 18-24 year-olds, with93 per cent taking a mobile phone and over three-quarters carryinga digital camera (80%) and MP3 player (72%).

The research also revealed that most womenprefer the beach look of Charlotte Church compared to skinnyVictoria Beckham, but men prefer the seaside image of David Beckhamto the bronzed look of Charlotte’s boyfriend GavinHenson.

But while holidaymakers may want to copy glamcelebrity beach looks, Norwich Union is urging sea and sandworshippers to consider cheap alternatives to high-end designeraccessories when it comes to hitting the beach.

Dawn McMullan, travel product manager atNorwich Union, said: “Our evidence suggests that the simplebeach bag, once just for towels and sunscreen, has become aglamorous fashion accessory packed with expensive items which makethem rich pickings for opportunist thieves.

“Holidaymakers also appear to beseverely underestimating the value of their belongings, which meansthat if they do become a victim of theft, they could findthemselves under-insured.”

“We also know that 22 per cent of 16-24year-olds neglect to take out travel insurance* at all, yet ourresearch suggests that these are the holidaymakers most atrisk.”

Last year nearly a quarter (22%) of NorwichUnion travel claims were for lost, stolen or damaged belongings.With beaches at home and abroad full to capacity this summer,Norwich Union is urging sea and sand worshippers to takeprecautions to avoid being caught out by light-fingered beachcrooks.

Top tips for beach-goers

  • Don’t leave valuables unattended on the beach, as theywill not be covered by your travel insurance. Instead, take itin turns with your friends or family to go for a swim, leavingsomebody you trust with your belongings at all times
  • Avoid attracting thieves’ attention by taking cheapalternatives to expensive beach accessories - swap atop-of-the-range digital camera for a disposable, glam Guccishades for a copycat high street version and that snazzydesigner bag for a magazine freebie
  • Plan ahead and make use of the hotel safe for valuables - onlytake what you really need to the beach
  • Don’t get caught out without adequate travel insurancecover.
  • Be smart and look at your insurance options. For example, if youhave to take high value items with you, consider taking outpersonal belongings cover on your Norwich Union home insurancepolicy. You can have from £2,000 to £10,000 of cover for itemslost, stolen or damaged anywhere in the world.


Press office contacts:

Chris Soult, Lexis PR, on 020 7908 6475 or
Rebecca Holmes, Norwich Union Press Office, on 01603 354 346 or07800 690 731

Notes to editors

ICM interviewed a random sample of 1001adults aged 18+, by telephone between 21 and 23 July 2006.Interviews were conducted across the country and the results havebeen weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of theBritish Polling Council and abides by its rules. Furtherinformation at

*Mintel Travel Insurance Report Feb 2006

Summary of key findings

  • Mobile phone is the top valuable people take to the beach (68%),followed by watch (60%), digital camera/video camera (60%),cash/credit cards (40%), designer sunglasses (40%), MP3 player(30%) and make-up (18%)
  • 18-24 year-olds take the most expensive items to the beach– mobile phone (93%), digital camera/video camera (80%),MP3 player (72%), designer shades (61%), jewellery (32%). Halfof this age group have a bag and contents worth over £150
  • 46% of men value their belongings in excess of £150 but only 10%in excess of £500
  • 31% of women value their belongings in excess of £150 and just4% over £500
  • 8% of 18-24 year-olds have had their beach bag or items stolen,the highest of any age group
  • 29% of men would leave their belongings unattended on the beachcompared to 23% of women
  • 22% of men copy David Beckham’s beach look, 20% of womenCharlotte Church’s

About Norwich Union

  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest general insurer with amarket share of around 14%, with a focus on insurance forindividuals and small businesses.
  • It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investmentproducts and one of the largest Financial Adviser (FA)providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-termsavings business in the UK.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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