Aftermath

There are indications that the worst of the rioting following the killing of George Floyd may be behind us. The streets of America’s cities as of this writing were reported to be calmer, and some of the protesters themselves, realizing that things have gone too far, were calling for peaceful behavior.

In New York City over Tuesday night, thousands defied the 8:00 p.m. curfew and caused trouble in several locations, though there, too, the scenes were not on the scale of previous nights. Officials said they still expected it would take a few more tense days and nights before calm will be restored.

Much as an end to the violence and vandalism would be welcome, the personal injury and anguish and the financial losses incurred will not instantly disappear once the rioters disappear back into their homes and haunts.

Part of the process of recovery from this debacle will be the effort on the part of many innocent victims of the mayhem to obtain payment from their insurers on damages suffered.

The question is being asked across the country — wherever the disorders hit and left a trail of burned and busted property and destroyed and stolen merchandise: Will my insurance cover this?

The short answer is that it appears in most cases that insurance policies will cover the damage. But it depends on the type of insurance.

Janet Ruiz of the Insurance Information Institute (III) was quoted by NBC as saying that “business insurance policies do cover riot and civil commotion and many small businesses do carry business insurance policies.”

Outlining what policyholders are entitled to, the III said that civil disorders of the kind we have been experiencing are covered by the Business Owners Policy (BOP). Broken glass may require separate coverage.

For those who were forced to shut their doors, sometimes for several days, while the rioting carried on, they could be covered under the rubric of “business interruption.” But here is a catch: The insurer may only be liable if the interruption is caused or associated with direct physical damage to the property.

In other words, even if one had to shut down for days while rioters and looters were on the rampage, the losses incurred won’t be covered if you were fortunate enough that they missed your store. You may not need money to pay for recovery from vandalism and looting, but the loss of income while you had to stay closed will be your problem.

Comprehensive auto insurance should cover damage to the vehicle and its contents caused by fire, falling objects, vandalism or riot. Roughly three-quarters of U.S. drivers have this optional coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. That still leaves a large number with ordinary liability coverage who would be vulnerable to paying for repairs and replacements on their own.

Standard homeowners’ policies will cover damage to the property caused by fire, explosion, a riot or civil commotion, vandalism or malicious mischief.

But even those who have coverage may be faced with higher rates and premiums, as insurers seek to cope with the tremendous volume of claims, which have come on top of the compensation being paid out for losses in the coronavirus pandemic.

Ruiz said of people seeking relief, “I would expect they would go to FEMA and possibly the SBA for help, and that’s a situation that happens after every catastrophe.”

But for those whose policies do not cover rioting and looting, the government should step in. Especially in cases where police did not act to prevent or stop the rioting, and were specifically ordered not to intervene.

The results of the abject failure of local officials to protect persons and property from the depradations of the mob should not be borne by the victims.

The family of George Floyd is entitled to just punishment of his murderers, and African-Americans across the country are entitled to fair treatment by the agencies of law enforcement.

Unfortunately, there have been many other victims of violence, a trail of injustice, in the wake of Floyd’s killing. These victims of the rioting were also innocent, and they too have a right to receive fair compensation.