Civil Disorders and Insurance

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

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

Property damage caused by riot, civil commotion and vandalism are generally covered under standard auto, business, and homeowners insurance policies. Depending on the nature of the property, there are several types of insurance coverages available to protect vehicles, businesses or homes from most forms of civil commotion.

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 for the cost of living away from home above and beyond traditional expenses. For instance, ALE covers hotel bills and restaurant meals incurred while a home is being repaired or rebuilt.

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 a policyholder if a 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.

Business insurance

Damage to the physical part of a business and its contents that is caused by fire, riots, civil commotion or vandalism is generally covered under a standard Business Owners Policy (also known as a BOP). Some businesses purchase coverage for plate glass windows 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 insurance. 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 department or fire department bars access to a specific area as a result of direct physical damage caused to a nearby business by a riot or civil commotion.


Source: Insurance Information Institute, “Civil Disorders and Insurance” website. Accessed June 9, 2020.

© Copyright 2020. All rights reserved. This content is strictly for informational purposes and although experts have prepared it, the reader should not substitute this information for professional insurance advice. If you have any questions, please consult your insurance professional before acting on any information presented.

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