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Generally, standard homeowner’s insurance policies and commercial property insurance policies cover damage to civil unrest such as riots and acts of vandalism. As with all insurance policy claims, there are exceptions, which largely depend on the precise wording of the insurance policy.

For example, while business property insurance does cover property damage due to civil unrest, whether the policy covers business interruption insurance depends on:

  • Whether there is an applicable exclusion
  • Whether there are any other causes for the loss of business income , such as COVID-19
  • The amount of the insurance deductible
  • The type of business and how long the business has been in operation

Coverage issues also depend on the policy terms and definitions and on current law.

Home damage and vehicle damage

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), a standard homeowner’s policy covers fires, explosions, vandalism and riots, or civil commotions. The coverage applies to damage to the home’s structure and to any personal possessions. If a homeowner needs to move while repairs are being made (or a renter needs to move), the policy should cover the cost for temporary living expenses – including hotel and food. These additional expenses are commonly categorized as “Additional Living Expenses” (ALE).

Any damage to your vehicles due to civil unrest should also be covered, if your auto insurance policy includes comprehensive insurance. According to III, about three-quarters of U.S. drivers who have auto insurance pay for comprehensive insurance.

Financial assistance programs

Some states, cities, and private groups are providing additional financial help (on top of any insurance coverage) to businesses whose property was damaged due to recent civil unrest around the country.

USA Today recently reported that New York City has approved small business emergency grants for up to $10,000 if their business storefronts were damaged due to looting. Chicago’s Mayor announced $10 million to support small businesses, with the help of local corporations and philanthropies.

Some communities are using crowdsourcing methods, such as GoFundMe fundraisers, to help local businesses damaged due looting and civil unrest.

Recovery suggestions from the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA)

USA Today’s article includes these suggestions from APCIA:

  • Report your claim as soon as possible. The sooner you report your claim, the sooner you can focus on getting your home or business rebuilt.
  • Prevent further damage. Make temporary repairs such as boarding up broken windows. Don’t make any permanent repairs until and insurance adjuster inspects the property. Owners should speak with an experienced insurance lawyer as soon as possible.
  • Save receipts. Keep receipts for any temporary repairs and work on your property.
  • Document the damage. Take photos and videos.
  • Only use qualified professional contractors. An experienced insurance dispute lawyer should be able to guide you on how to choose the right contractors for your property needs.
  • Hire a professional cleaning service. Try to keep self-help cleaning to a minimum.
  • Understand your policy. The best way to understand what damage your policy covers is to speak with a respected insurance attorney – especially a lawyer who has experienced filing insurance claims.

Business damage issues

According to Property Casualty 360, damage from civil commotion, rioting, and vandalism is normally covered under a business owner’s insurance policy or a commercial insurance policy – both in “named perils” policies and “all risk” policies. The policy should also cover doors, light fixtures, and windows. Some policies may require a “special glass endorsement.” Machinery, computers, furniture and other items should be covered under the “business owner’s personal property coverage.”

Small and midsize businesses often purchase a combination business owner’s policy (BOP) – property, liability, and business interruption. Some businesses, restaurants for example, may be required to buy three separate policies instead of combining all three coverages. Generally, businesses that are eligible to buy a BOP choose the combination policy because it’s less expensive.

Only 40% of businesses have business interruption coverage through a standalone policy or BOP, and 44% of small businesses have never had insurance, according to a recent survey by Next Insurance.

At Warhurst Law, attorney Gene Warhurst is a strong advocate for homeowners and business owners whose property and business is damaged for any reason. He’s highly respected for his ability to achieve strong settlements and verdicts based on his 25 years of experience as an insurance lawyer and his prior experience as a claims adjuster.

Call Warhurst Law at 251.207.1296 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We’ll help steer you through the practical and legal insurance issues for damage due to civil unrest, fire, or unexpected disaster. We represent home and business owners across the Southeast including Alabama, the Florida panhandle, and Louisiana.

* Warhurst Law cannot and does not guarantee an outcome to any case.