Civil disorders and insurance

Is property damage caused by riot, civil commotion and vandalism covered by standard insurance policies?

When protests, riots or civil disorders break out, home, business and car owners are often—and rightly—concerned about damage to their property.


Unfortunately, sometimes even a harmless gathering can suddenly turn into an ugly mob, causing looting, vandalism and fires that can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Depending on the nature of the property, there are several types of insurance coverages available to protect homes, businesses or vehicles from most forms of civil commotion.

Auto insurance

Damage to cars is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy. This provides reimbursement for damage to the vehicle and its contents caused by fire, falling objects, vandalism or riot. Comprehensive coverage will also reimburse you if your windshield is cracked or shattered. 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.

Homeowners insurance

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 cannot live at your home because it was damaged by an insured disaster, standard home (and renters insurance policies) provide coverage for additional living expenses (ALE). This pays the costs of living away from home. ALE covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, and other expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

Business insurance

Damage to the physical plant of a business and its contents that is caused by fire, riots, civil commotion or vandalism is covered under a Business Owners Policy (also known as a BOP). However, coverage for plate glass windows is often sold separately.

Businesses that are forced to suspend operations or limit hours due to rioting may have coverage for the loss of income under business income insurance—also known as business interruption. However this is only triggered if there is direct physical damage to the premises.

A “civil authority provision” in a business policy provides coverage for lost income and extra expenses in the event the police or fire department bars access to a specific area as a result of the danger caused by a riot or civil commotion.

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