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Tuesday, 02 June 2020 19:06

Riots, Civil Commotion, Vandalism Generally Covered by Insurance

Written by Rosalie Donlon, PropertyCasualty360
The Omni Hotel in Atlanta was damaged after a night of violent protests, rioting and looting May 29. The Omni Hotel in Atlanta was damaged after a night of violent protests, rioting and looting May 29. John Disney for ALM Media


As much of the U.S. convulses in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, it’s some comfort to know property damage caused by rioting, civil commotion and vandalism are covered under standard insurance policies, says Loretta Worters, vice president, media relations for the Insurance Information Institute.

Here is an overview of the different kinds of policies and coverage that may be involved in any claims. Insured that don’t have the right kind of coverage now can use this information to discuss options with an insurance agent or broker.


Automobiles are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy, Worters explained. This provides reimbursement for damage to the vehicle and its contents caused by fire, falling objects, vandalism or rioting.


“Comprehensive coverage will also reimburse you if your windshield is cracked or shattered,” she added.


Some companies offer glass coverage without a deductible. Approximately three-quarters of U.S. drivers chose to buy this optional coverage as part of their auto insurance policy.


Standard homeowners policies will cover damage to the property caused by fire, an explosion, a riot or civil commotion, vandalism or malicious mischief. This would include coverage to the structure of the home, as well as any personal possessions.


“If you can’t live at your home because it was damaged by an insured disaster,” Worters said, “standard home [and renters insurance policies] provide coverage for additional living expenses [ALE], which pays the costs of living away from home. ALE covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.”


Rioting, civil commotion and vandalism are also covered perils under virtually all business owners and commercial insurance property policies both named perils and “all risk” policies.


Damage to windows, doors, light fixtures and other items that are part of a building should be covered under the building property coverage included in the policy.


“Glass is usually part of covered property and built into base rates as long as it’s part of a building or structure [i.e., store windows and plate glass on office fronts],” Worters noted. “However, there could be some policies that need special glass endorsements.”


Business owners should check with their insurer. Furniture, liquor, glassware office supplies, computers, machinery---basically everything except for the building itself that was damaged or stolen should qualify for coverage under the business owner’s personal property coverage.


Business income insurance typically includes civil authority coverage, which provides loss of income that occurs because access to the premises has been prohibited by civil authority, such as a government entity.


“Access must be prohibited due to damage by a covered peril to property,” Worters said, “not located at your premises.”


Civil authority insurance covers income lost during a limited period of time, typically four weeks. This time period can be extended by paying an additional premium.

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