Lost property on public transport worth £2.2 billion

  • In the last 12 months, 7.8 million people (15 per cent) have misplaced items on public transport
  • 12.8 million items have been lost, 1,500 every hour on average
  • Over a third (36 per cent) of people lost items while commuting
  • The average value of items misplaced is £288

In the last 12 months, people have lost items worth nearly £2.2 billion on public transport, reveals new research1 from Direct Line Home Insurance. One in six adults (15 per cent), nearly eight million people, have lost property while on trains, tubes, and buses in the last year. Men (19 per cent) are nearly twice as likely as women to lose an item (11 per cent) on public transport.

Overall, 12.8 million possessions have been mislaid in the past year, approximately 1,500 every hour. At an average value of £288, and collective cost of £2.2 billion, this means £258,000 of items are lost every hour on public transport routes across the UK. Younger adults (18-34) account for more than two thirds (68 per cent) of all lost items, and with a higher average value of £318, they have collectively lost £1.5 billion of possessions in the last 12 months.

Bags (20 per cent) are the item most frequently misplaced on public transport. Headphones (19 per cent), sunglasses (19 per cent) and items of clothing (18 per cent) closely follow as the top lost items.   

Table one: Most common items lost on public transport 


Percentage of people who lost an item in the last 12 months

Number of people who lost this item in the last 12 month


20 per cent

1.6 million


19 per cent

1.5 million


19 per cent

1.5 million

Item of clothing

18 per cent

1.4 million

Mobile phone

15 per cent

1.2 million

Purse or wallet

14 per cent

1.1 million


13 per cent

1 million


11 per cent



11 per cent


Smart watch

11 per cent



9 per cent


All lost items

15 per cent

7.8 million

Source: Direct Line Home Insurance 2022

The most common time for mislaying items is on the way to or from work, with over a third (36 per cent) of people losing possessions during the commute. Travelling home from a night out (20 per cent), travelling home from school or university (14 per cent) and travelling to a holiday (13 per cent) are other common times for misplacing 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. It can be costly, though, and just losing one item such as a pair of headphones or sunglasses could cost hundreds of pounds. If people do misplace their possessions on public transport they should try and contact the operator to see if it has been handed into lost property, though some companies charge a hefty fee to retrieve an item, such as £20 for a laptop. 

“It is important to check your home insurance policy for out of home personal possessions cover when taking expensive items out and about. If you don’t have this cover and use public transport frequently, consider adding it to your policy as it could save you a lot of money.”

Direct Line Home Insurance customers can add cover to their policies to provide protection for accidental loss or damage to personal possessions up to £10,000, for the sum of individual items worth less than £2,000 on the standard policy and £4,000 on the Plus policy. If an item was worth more than the individual item policy limit it would need to be specified, with an upper limit of £7,500 per item.  For more information, please visit www.directline.com/home-cover/personal-possessions


Notes to Editors

1        Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,002 adults between 4th and 8th February 2022

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
PR Manager – Direct Line  

Tel: 01651 832 095

Email: [email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/home-cover