Are You Insured Against a Riot?


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — During the past few days the city of London has been in the grip of widespread rioting. What began as a small, peaceful protest after police shot a man during an anti-firearms operation spiraled quickly out of control as people took advantage of the situation, looting and burning buildings with little intervention from police.

While London police have begun to assert control over the situation, the riots should serve as a wake-up call to business owners and homeowners in the U.S. to make sure they’re insured against a similar riot.

The good news is that if you have a homeowner’s policy, you’re protected against theft or damage that takes place during a riot.

“Basically, you would be covered no matter what,” says Chris Kissell, managing editor of “Homeowner’s policies have 16 named perils, which is the standard list of things that could potentially happen to your house that you’re covered for, and riot or civil commotion is one of the 16.”

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that these riots typically happen in urban areas, where you’re more likely to be renting an apartment than owning a home. If the property in your apartment is damaged or stolen during a riot, insurance coverage is a different story.

“People think, ‘I don’t have to worry because my landlord has insurance,’ but that’s not the case,” Kissell says. The solution is to get renter’s insurance on the items in your apartment, which costs around $15 a month and which Kissell says will protect you from damages incurred during a riot. Just keep in mind that, like any insurance policy, your renter’s insurance may carry a deductible.

As a general rule, though, rioters tend to target places of business, making off with merchandise and torching the buildings in their wake. Business owners in urban areas therefore need to make sure they’re insured against theft and property damage.

“In a riot situation, they’re going to be looking for property coverage,” says Darren Beck, CEO of insurance agency Business Insurance Now. “We do see clients sometimes who just stick with general liability to save a few bucks, but it’s worth it to get a business owners policy, which includes property coverage.”

Beck notes that you’ll also need to have workers compensation insurance on the off chance an employee is injured during the riot while at work.

“Most states require businesses to have workers compensation insurance, but it is also important that businesses adjust their coverage accordingly over time as they expand and add additional employees,” he says.

As with natural disasters, the other thing to keep in mind is that even if the cost of rebuilding your business is covered, your store will still be shuttered while you rebuild. And that means the income you’d normally draw from operating the business is suddenly gone.

That’s why it’s important to have business interruption coverage, which compensates you for the profits lost while your business is shut down. Beck says this coverage isn’t always included in a business owner’s policy, so it’s absolutely crucial to check on whether you have this coverage.

Finally, keep in mind that business interruption coverage is limited in scope, and a recent blog post by the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group, notes that “if a business is forced to close early due to a city-imposed curfew, business interruption coverage would not apply for the lost income.”

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