Insuring your handbag-- till theft do you part

Michelle J. Lee

Maybe you have a collection of affordable handbags that could fill up a small house. Or maybe you fork over two months' salary for just one designer bag. Whatever your style, if you want to protect your precious purses, a bank in France might have the answer.

Pour Elles - roughly translated to mean "For Her" - is a MasterCard offered by Paris-based bank Société Générale. Perks from this card include insurance coverage for your handbag - in case of theft - and exclusive, instant access to a home maintenance hotline basically a directory of handymen).

Lys-Aeilia Hart, an assistant art buyer living in Paris, tells Reuters that the promotion is "cheeky." Hart doesn't doubt Pour Elles is trying to cater to women, but says, "I don't need my bank to dictate what kind of services I need."

Aurélia Guttadauro, 27, of France says that when she first heard about this card, she thought it was "sexist" and that even the presentation of the card itself — which has eight different designs, including pink flowers and high heels — was "girly." She has no problems with the program itself, saying that while she personally wouldn't sign up for Pour Elles, if others wanted to partake in it, "Why not?"

Despite targeting its marketing toward women, both men and women can sign up for the Pour Elles card. In fact, a spokeswoman for Société Générale says 5 percent of cardholders are men.

The card is available to residents of France, Andorra and Monaco.

Before you pack up your bags and move to France, keep in mind that Pour Elles offers coverage of only as much as 200 Euros for stolen handbags - which might cover a zipper or two on most designer bags.

In the U.S., handbags are covered under insurance policies as "personal possessions." Jeanne Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute, says that a typical homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance policy covers personal possessions. The coverage depends on what your policy deductible is and how your bag went missing. If it was stolen or lost in a natural disaster, such as a tornado or hurricane, then the purse would be covered. If you just lose your bag or spill red wine on it, you're on your own, Salvatore says.

Salvatore recommends having a higher deductible for your personal possessions, as it will save you money over time. The higher your deductible, the lower the premium is for your homeowner's or renter's insurance, and vice versa. So, in the name of Fendi and Fossil, take a good look at your coverage and take care of your bags.

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