Will insurance cover those hurt by riots?

9 August 2011

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.


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