Following the extensive civil disturbances around various major cities over the last few nights, and the wanton destruction of property which has occurred, many folk will, no doubt be concerned about their own homes, cars and possessions. In particular you may be wondering whether your insurance policy will pay out for any damage caused as a result of rioting, civil unrest and looting.
The good news is that most situations will be covered, and I would expect the vast majority of claims for riot damage will be met. If your property or possessions have been impacted by these events it is essential that you inform the police immediately, if you haven’t already done so, and contact your insurer straightaway so that help can be arranged – speed can often be of the essence.
The public order act of 1986 defines riot as follows:
“Where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose is guilty of riot.”
That being the case, there is little doubt that the events of the past few days will, when the dust has settled, be defined as a riot. So what will that mean.
According to the ABI, all home insurance policies should cover people for fire, looting or damage resulting from the civil unrest. The exception might be if the home has been unoccupied for a while (how long will be stipulated in the policy booklet or schedule (unless you have specialist unoccupied home insurance)). Many house insurance policies will also offer an accomodation allowance if you are unable to remain in your home.
Commercial policies should also cover business for damage to premises and stock, as well as business interruption. Some policies may also cover businesses whose trade has been indirectly affected by the aftermath of the riots – you should check your documentation or ring your insurer to confirm what cover you have in place.
Many people may be concerned about car insurance, having seen the vehicles set alight in the street. The situation with vehicles is less clear cut, as there is wide variation in policy cover between different providers and different levels of cover.
Third Party Only: Unfortunately, anyone with a Third Party Only policy will definitely not be able to make a claim against their own policy, as damage to the vehicle is not covered by TPO cover.
Third Party Fire and Theft: TPFT policy holders may be able to claim for fire damage, although many policies exclude arson and vandalism specifically, so you will need to check policy wordings.
Fully Comprehensive: Comprehensive car insurance policies often have a clause excluding riot damage – but, crucially, in most cases the exclusion only applies outside of Great Britain, so the overwhelming majority of people with a fully comprehensive policy will be covered. However there are some companies, for example, Highway,
Zurich Connect, XS Direct and KGM, where the standard terms and conditions appear to exclude riot damage even within the UK mainland.
If you are in any doubt, you should check your policy document, or ring your insurer to confirm exactly what cover you have. Adrian Flux customers can find their policy booklets online.
UPDATE 18:04 9/8/2011:
I have just been contacted by Keith Lewis at Zurich Insurance, who tells me that relatively few people still have a Connect policy. He goes on to say:
We have made the decision that Connect customers will be covered for any riot related damage as this is an anomaly in our suite of products. Our Connect Home product doesn’t have that exclusion.
which is really excellent news for any Zurich customers caught up in the unrest who might otherwise have been worried by their policy wording.