Will Your Homeowner’s Policy Cover Property Damage Resulting from Rioting?

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

During the last several years, civil disturbances that range from peaceful protests to full scale riots have erupted across the U.S. related to allegations of acts of racially motivated interactions between law enforcement officers and African-Americans.  Although the Trayvon Martin incident was not precisely the same because George Zimmerman was a private citizen engaged in his own informal neighborhood watch, the roots of the “Black Lives Matter” group trace back to the Trayvon Martin incident that resulted in an unarmed African-American’s shooting death at the hands of Zimmerman.  With the number of high profile incidents related to this type of violence affecting communities across the U.S., many property owners are wondering whether they are protected from loss in the event of a riot in the neighborhood of their business or home.

Typically, policyholders will have coverage under their homeowner or commercial insurance policies if their home, furnishings, business, or motor vehicle is damaged.  Almost all business and homeowner policies include “riots and civil commotions” as a covered peril.  Further, many policies include “looting” within the definition of “riots and civil commotions.”  Damage from fire, which might constitute the biggest form of loss during a riot, also will typically be covered.

If an owner of a motor vehicle carries only liability coverage without collision and comprehensive coverage, the individual’s vehicle likely will not be covered if it is set on fire during a period of civil unrest.  In many states, collision and comprehensive coverage is an optional, rather than a mandatory coverage.  Collision and comprehensive insurance coverage can be critical when a policyholder’s vehicle is damaged in a riot.

Similarly, commercial policyholders will generally have coverage for property damage through their business or commercial insurance policies.  Business interruption type insurance policies may provide reimbursement for lost profits during a period of a shutdown caused by property damage caused by the unrest.  However, the issue becomes less clear when the loss of profits is caused by actions of a civil authority, such as a government imposed curfew or when the business has to close due to the unrest but does not suffer any direct physical damage from the riot.

While we have tried to present a general overview of some coverage issues related to riots, the specific language of your policy and other factual factors might determine whether you are protected in the event of civil unrest.  

You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].

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