Will insurance cover those hurt by riots?
Throughout the week riots have broken out across the country resulting in many people seeing their livelihoods destroyed.
Damage caused by looters has resulted in shop and business owners seeing their livelihoods in tatters after store windows were smashed, goods stolen and buildings set on fire. The arson attacks have also impacted many residents, with people's homes burnt down and their possessions destroyed.
For those affected, the emotional stress and damage will be difficult to come to terms with; however, from a financial point of view they should be able to recoup their losses through their insurance. Read on to find out more.
Is my insurance likely to pay out because of the riots?
Yes. Riot damage is covered by home insurance under fire and theft, even basic car insurance covers damage through fire and theft and contents insurance will also cover stolen or damaged possessions as a result of looting.
Businesses can also expect the same protection for their premises and goods. Depending on the policies, some will also include extras such as denial of access – where business owners cannot access their business premises. Check your policy for exact conditions.
Some policies will even cover businesses that are not damaged, but their trade is affected by the aftermath of the riots.
What should I do?
Contact your insurance provider and/or a recognised insurance broker from the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) as soon as possible to make a claim. As part of the Riot Damages Act, insurers need to take action within a certain period of time in order to clam back costs themselves so notify them as soon as possible.
Some insurers will also have a list of companies you should use to carry out repair work. Alternatively they may give you a cash advance to help cover costs, so it's worth informing them of damage before you start paying for new windows or locks.
In terms of contents insurance, you will need to quantify your losses: list everything you've lost or that's been damaged and how much it's worth.
With all insurance types you will need to get a crime reference number. Understandably, this may be difficult to get immediately from the police so contact your insurer in the first instance.
Can I change my excess?
Excess can only be changed on a yearly basis when the policy comes up for a renewal so you won't be able to alter this either if you are making a claim or worried you may need to.
How long will I have to wait for my claim to pay out?
Once you've informed your broker and/or insurance provider, it will start looking at making emergency repairs, such as boarding up windows and securing building access. This should happen immediately. Full repairs are then likely to be completed within a matter of weeks. For larger structural damage however, the process will be considerably longer. Insurers will need to call in the services of a loss adjuster to determine if your property is structurally safe – or what needs to be done to make it so.
Insurance claims specialists that investigate contentious claims on behalf of insurance companies or policyholders. They investigate at the scene of an incident and establish the causes of the ‘loss’ (damage or destruction of property) and whether it is covered by the insurance policy. They then write reports for the insurer, assessing the validity of the claim and recommend if the insurer should pay out and, if so, how much.
This is more usually a feature of car insurance but it can also crop up in contents, mobile phone and pet insurance policies. An excess is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying out. The excess makes up the first part of a claim, so if your excess is £100 and your claim is for £500, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer the remaining £400. Many online insures let you set your own excess, but the lower the excess, the more expensive the premium will be.
Does exactly what it says on the tin: covers the contents of your home for theft and damage and also may insure certain possessions (jewellery, cycles) outside of the home. Things to watch for include the excess and also the maximum payout on individual items. Another grey area is kitchen fittings, as some contents policies say these are not contents but part of the fabric of the property and covered by buildings insurance and some buildings policies don’t cover them because they regard them as contents.