Several states address protest-related property claims

While the “Black Lives Matter” movement sweeping the US has been largely peaceful, some businesses have suffered from looting and vandalism with several state insurance regulators responding by ordering insurers to expedite any property damage claims affected businesses might file.

The Illinois Department of Insurance issued a bulletin – Company Bulletin 2020-15 – which orders insurers operating in the state to expedite claims filed by businesses that experienced looting. Director Robert Muriel of the Illinois Department of Insurance also asked insurers to advance claim payments, and to “err on the side of the policyholder” when paying for riot, civil unrest, and vandalism claims – even if the policyholder was unable to pay their premiums in full during the period following the state’s lockdown order on March 20, 2020.

“The department understands the importance of the insurance industry in the recovery during times of great loss and thanks insurers in advance for handling claims in a fair and timely way,” said Muriel in the bulletin release. “We encourage insurers to assist in whatever additional ways they can and trust the insurance industry stands ready to be a critical participant in recovery.”

Similarly, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued its own emergency regulation, which orders insurers in the state to hasten the claims process for businesses and individuals that suffered damages from riots in New York. Notably, the regulation allows claimants to “commence  immediate repairs  to the exterior windows, exterior doors, and, for minor permanent repairs, exterior walls of real property,” provided they submit proof of loss documentation (in the form of photos or video recordings) and the receipts for any repairs/replacements to their insurers.

Pennsylvania’s own insurance regulator released guidance for local businesses looking to claim on riot-related damages. The guidance lists the various insurance coverage types businesses might have, and what exactly those policies can cover for in relation to riot damage. Notably, the department said that business property/commercial insurance will typically cover costs resulting from a covered loss such as fire, looting, vandalism, or riots; specific civil authority coverage should also cover for income lost if the business is forced to limit hours or suspend operations due to perils like rioting, vandalism, or civil commotion.

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