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Does insurance cover riot damage?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Civil unrest can strike anywhere – from a downtown business hub to a small-town community. Looting, theft and vandalism are possible in the midst of the mayhem. But if something happens to your home as a result, you may wonder, will your homeowners’ insurance cover it?

Standard home insurance policies are in place in part to protect your property, as well as the exterior of your home structure. Typically, this includes damage to your home from the following:

  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Aircraft or vehicle
  • Riots
  • Fire and smoke

For many homeowners in areas with a history of rioting or looting, this issue may especially be top-of-mind. Damage resulting from riots is typically covered by standard homeowners policies, as it is often listed as a named peril.

In the event a small plane makes an emergency landing through your backyard, destroying the fence, the damage would likely be covered. The same would apply if rioters pushed through your yard and destroyed the fence. Windows broken as a result of hail are typically covered — the same logic applies if rioters damage windows with rocks or bottles.

Rioters could possibly loot your living room and take your electronics. The provisions of your insurance policy that cover theft would apply here, providing compensation to replace the lost belongings.

Here’s how different coverages in your homeowners’ insurance policy could come into play during a riot.

Does homeowner’s insurance cover riot damage?

A standard homeowners insurance policy does cover damage caused by a riot, civil commotion or vandalism. Coverage typically includes any damage caused to your home and the possessions inside it, up to the limit of your policy.

Reimbursement for repairs to your home and replacement of your possessions will vary depending on the type of policy you have. The amount may be less if you have actual cash value coverage, since it takes into account depreciation and the item’s current value. You’ll be better protected in the event of a riot if your policy includes replacement costs — it uses today’s market value to replace damaged or stolen goods.

Also remember that your deductible will be subtracted from the reimbursement amount. That means you’ll receive slightly less than what the damage is assessed at. For instance, if your damage was appraised at $5,000 and you have a $500 deductible, you would only receive $4,500 from your insurance company.

What part of my policy covers me in the case of riot damage?

Both standard and add-on coverages address riot damage. Different parts of your homeowners insurance will apply depending on the situation.

  • Dwelling coverage: This provision covers property damage to your home from explosion, fire or vandalism — all are possible outcomes from a riot. Be sure your limit equals the cost of rebuilding your home, not just market value.
  • Other structures: If a shed, detached garage or fence sustains damage in a riot, this coverage can help repair or replace it.
  • Personal property: Looting would likely be treated as theft from an insurance standpoint. This coverage could help replace items taken.
  • Loss of use: Let’s say your home isn’t habitable because of damage from a covered peril. This part of your policy can help cover additional living expenses. For instance, if someone rams an automobile into your living room during a riot, this coverage could help with lodging and meals while you are displaced and wait for repairs.

What about vandalism? Does homeowners insurance cover vandalism? Yes; riots, civil commotion and vandalism are all covered in a standard policy. Let’s explore this scenario a bit further to understand how insurance applies.

What do you do if your house is vandalized?

Vandalism, whether a byproduct of rioting or just the work of neighborhood rogues, can cause all sorts of damage, including broken windows and damage to landscaping or fencing. If your home or other property is damaged, take the following steps to begin the process of recovery.

  • Report damage to the policy. Any damage caused by a riot is considered a crime, so call the police and file a report if this happens to you. Keep this information on hand in case you need to file an insurance claim.
  • Notify your insurance company. Depending on the extent of damage, your next step might be to call your insurance company directly to start the claims process. Some providers may also offer a mobile app to use. Make sure you file as soon as possible following the event.
  • Schedule an appointment with the insurance adjuster. The adjuster will come to your home and assess the value of the damage caused by the riot.
  • Create an inventory of lost or damaged items. This helps the adjuster create an accurate quote of what has been damaged or stolen. Doing this step prior to the adjuster visit can speed up the process and improve the accuracy of your reimbursement.
  • Retain receipts for additional living expenses. If you’re being reimbursed for living elsewhere while your home is repaired, keep all receipts so that your insurance company can cover the applicable costs. This can include meals, gas and lodging.

Does renter’s insurance cover riot damage?

When it comes to renters insurance, a standard policy offers very similar coverage to a homeowners insurance policy. The key difference is that you’re not responsible for the structure of the home — your landlord has their own policy to cover that. But if any of your personal possessions are damaged or stolen, your renters insurance should cover their replacement.

Additionally, if the building incurs so much damage that you can’t live there while it’s being repaired, your renters insurance should also cover additional living expenses. That means you’ll be reimbursed for hotel and meals just as a homeowner in the same situation would be.

The takeaway

  • Riot damage and vandalism to your personal property is covered under both homeowners and renters insurance.
  • The structure, your personal possessions and additional living expenses are covered.
  • Call the police and file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible to expedite the process if the damage warrants it.

Conclusion

Riots, vandalism and civil unrest provide plenty of cause for concern. But even a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy can give you peace of mind, knowing that you have financial protection in the face of these risks.

Lauren Ward

Lauren Ward is a writer for Coverage.com. She specializes in all things personal finance, including insurance, loans, and real estate.

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