Authored by:
Benny Wright, Regional Manager
Jansen/Adjusters International

2020 has been deemed the year of unprecedented events. What started in the U.S. as an economically strong year was quickly fouled by a global pandemic. Many organizations felt the impact of the Coronavirus between a choking supply chain, terrified consumers, and state closures. 

Then, a season of political upheaval began. Retailers and commercial buildings faced the dangers of riots, looting and peaceful protests gone awry. It makes sense that many business owners are looking closely at their commercial insurance as 2020 comes to a close.

Most commercial property policies include coverage for riots and civil unrest. Today, we'll talk about the insurance claims process for commercial property during these unique times. Let's start with a good understanding of riot and civil unrest coverage.

What Business Owners Need to Know About Riots and Civil Unrest Coverage

Every insurance policy is a unique contract between the insurer and insured, but here's what you need to know:

  • Damage to a commercial structure and its contents caused by riots, civil commotion, group vandalism and looting is usually covered by a standard Business Owners Policy (BOP) or other commercial property policy.
  • Coverage for certain items — particularly glass windows — may be limited, requiring the additional coverage to have been added to the policy.
  • Many policies also cover business interruption / business income (BI) — but only if the insured property sustains direct physical damage.

The only exception would be a civil authority provision covering lost income or extra expenses should the local police department or fire department deny access to your business property during or following a civil commotion event, and your business is affected.

For how long am I covered?

If your loss is a result of direct physical damage, your lost business income and employee wages, which you continue to pay, are covered for the period of time required to restore the property to its pre-loss condition. However, there is a limitation of one year from the date of the loss, unless an extended period of indemnity endorsement was added to the policy.

If your business interruption loss is a result of the denial of access by civil authorities, the period of coverage is limited to a very short time period.

The Claims Process for Civil Unrest and Riot Claims at Commercial Locations

Many business owners are surprised to find themselves having to take an active role in the claims process which can be very time-consuming. You'll need to:

  • Contact the insurer and file the claim.
  • Meet with a claims adjuster to tour the location and begin to document the damages.
  • Provide any photos, videos and relevant paperwork to prove your claim. For instance, a retailer will need to prove their shelves were stocked with inventory. A hotel owner must prove the canceled reservations.
  • To collect BI coverage, you'll need to prove your usual income and expenses, including wages.
  • Meet with contractors for repair estimates and provide all required documentation to the adjuster.

It's important to remember that company insurance adjusters and independent adjusters work for the insurance company. They're certainly well-trained — all insurance adjusters must complete thorough coursework, a detailed licensing exam and ongoing continuing education — but they may not understand specific business or your losses. It is imperative be aware of the professional services and the dedicated client advocacy found only in hiring a Public Insurance Adjuster. A public adjuster works for you — not the insurance company. Our adjusting team at Jansen/Adjusters International prepares, documents, estimates, and negotiates your insurance claim for the correct and just settlement amount.

Public Insurance Adjusters exist to support businesses and business owners with their property damage claims. If you are a business owner and would like your own hired expert team from day one, or you are unhappy with the settlement offered by your insurer, you do not need to accept it. It is your right to contact a public adjuster.

Remember: here in Texas and in most states, you have a right to work with a public claims adjuster if you prefer an expert team solely representing your business interests, or if you're disappointed in the results of a claim at your commercial property.

"Does it Cost Anything to Use a Public Insurance Adjuster?"

There is a cost — it's capped at a small percentage of the net claims proceeds, though that percentage may differ from state to state. This percentage is most often offset by the increased settlement amount a public adjuster can obtain.

Our Goal as Public Insurance Adjusters

At Jansen/Adjusters International, our mission is to help property owners achieve the insurance settlements they deserve. If a fire, storm or riot has damaged your commercial property, talk to an adjuster that works for you, not the insurance company.

Related Reading & Resources: Human Hurricanes: Why Insurers May Treat Riot Claims Different Than Pandemic Claims

Benny Wright is a Regional Manager at Jansen/Adjusters International. He manages insurance claims from your small kitchen fire to multi-million-dollar insurance claims involving everything from commercial to residential properties. You can connect with Benny Wright on LinkedIn or contact him at our Dallas office.