Men more likely to underinsure their clothing than women

18 August 2010 MUA Insurance Acceptances
Christelle Fourie, Managing Director of MUA Insurance Acceptances

Christelle Fourie, Managing Director of MUA Insurance Acceptances

Both men and women significantly underestimate the value of their wardrobes, however, a new South African study has shown that men are more likely to lose out in the event of theft or damage, as they undervalue the cost of their clothing by a massive 150%.

The study, conducted by Qantam Risk Assessment – which surveyed 40 000 South African men and women between 1998 and 2010 – found that the average man underinsures his wardrobe by 150% at just R18 780 compared with its actual value of R56 340. In contrast, the average woman underinsures her wardobe by 90% at R35 683 compared with its actual value of R71 366.

According to Christelle Fourie, Managing Director of MUA Insurance Acceptances, while women’s wardobes would cost more to replace overall, men’s clothing tends to be more expensive per item than women. “There is a misconception that women’s clothing is far more expensive that mens but often this isn’t the case.”

“The regular assessments we conduct on our client’s possessions have shown that while men might not buy as much clothing as their wives, they tend to spend more on a small amount of select items. If you compare the price of a good quality men’s suit or shirt, it can often be far more expensive than women’s clothing.”

Fourie says expensive luxury brands are increasingly viewing South Africa as a lucrative market.

In June, luxury French men’s shoe maker Pierre Corthay said it already had a number of South African buyers on its distribution list as it launched its first range of shoes in the country. The price of Corthay’s shoes, which starts from R10 000 upwards, are even higher than the well-known women’s brands such as Christian Louboutin and Manohlo Blahnik, which start at around R5 000.

Fourie says the main reason for men and women undervaluing their wardrobes so significantly is that insurance values are calculated on the replacement cost of items. “A designer suit that a few years ago may have cost you in the region of R5 000, could now set you back R10 000 to replace.”

Fourie says that although it is quite rare that an entire wardrobe would need to be replaced, she cautions that if one were to suffer a break in or fire, it is important to make sure that you apportion the correct replacement value to your wardrobe to ensure your possessions can be replaced.

While most home insurance policies allow clothing to be claimed for in the event of theft or damage at home, there is generally a limit to the replacement value, with most insurers likely to reduce the amount they pay to reflect the level of cover taken out. “We build up our wardrobes over time and men especially tend to buy very good quality suits that will last them for many years. So it is crucial that if someone has spent a lot on their wardrobe, they ensure it is adequately covered in their policies.”

She says that if someone has a number of expensive outfits it is a good idea to get a professional valuer to assist in assessing the value of the wardrobe. “At MUA we provide a professional valuation service to our clients, so that they know exactly how much their wardrobes are worth.”

“It is very easy to underestimate how much your clothes are worth, especially if you bought them many years ago, so it is worth taking the time to obtain a proper valuation for your personal items such as clothes and handbag. By being proactive you can end up saving thousands in the long run in the long run,” concludes Fourie.

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