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Will my home insurance pay out for vandalism damage and looting?

Property damage is covered under most policies, with a few exceptions.

This article was reviewed by Andrew Flueckiger, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and certified insurance counselor and licensed insurance agent in five states.

Many cities across the nation are facing sustained civil unrest and even violence. Property damage is common collateral damage during these situations. Most standard homeowners and renters insurance policies include coverage for vandalism, looting and civil disruption — but what you can claim and how your claim is paid can be complex.

Is vandalism and looting damage covered by home insurance?

Yes, standard home and renters insurance policies cover damage caused to your property and belongings during a protest turned destructive. Your policy should include a list of insured perils or risks, and as long as your policy includes a peril listed as “riot or civil commotion,” you should be able to repair or replace your lost property using your policy’s coverage.

Watch our short video on how your insurance can cover you in the event of vandalism or looting:

What kind of damage is covered by home insurance?

Most home insurance policies cover any damage to your home or belongings due to vandalism or looting, such as:

  • Theft or stolen property from your home or vehicle
  • Vandalism, tagging and destruction
  • Fires and explosions
  • Broken windows or doors
  • Damage to landscaping, fences, sheds and other structures

What’s not covered?

Your claim might be denied in a few cases:

  • Government action. While damages caused by civilians are covered, your policy will often exclude government action. For instance, if police cause damage to your property, such as with tear gas canisters or other crowd control measures, your damage won’t be covered.
  • Participation in looting or vandalism. Your damage may be categorized as an intentional act if you actively participate in looting or vandalism, and your claim could be denied.
  • Expensive jewelry. High priced jewelry might not be covered for its full value without valuable personal property coverage.
  • Property coverage at the original value. If your coverage is for market value, your payout will be based on the amount your property and possessions are worth today, not what they were worth when you paid for them. That means you’ll be able to replace your home or property with similar used items, not a brand new version of what was lost or destroyed.
  • No proof of damage or stolen goods. To get coverage, you might have to show proof of the items that were damaged or stolen. For example, submitting a picture or receipt of your TV before it was stolen will help show your insurer how much it was worth.

Is vandalism and looting covered by renters insurance?

Yes, renters insurance policies typically cover vandalism or looting damage with similar coverage exclusions as a homeowners policy. In addition, your building owner association’s landlord insurance will typically pay to repair damage to shared areas and structures. Speak with your landlord to find out when and how those repairs will be completed.

How do I file a claim for property damage after destruction at a protest?

To make a home insurance claim:

  1. Contact your insurance company. Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as it’s safe.
  2. Make your claim online, by phone or through an app. Once you make a claim, you should receive a claim number in order to track its status. Review your policy in case it specifies steps to take after an insurable loss.
  3. Document damage to your property. Make a list of the damage you would like to show your insurance company and possible insurance adjuster, you may consider taking photos or videos of the damage.
  4. Get repair estimates. An adjuster is typically sent to your property to assess the damage and provide an estimate for repairs, or the adjuster may do a virtual walkthrough.
  5. Pick a contractor. You can use a contractor on your insurer’s preferred list or hire your own.
  6. Pay your deductible. You’ll have to pay your deductible before receiving your claim payout, or the deductible might be subtracted from your claim payout.
  7. Collect your repair funds. Once your claim has been processed, your insurer will notify you of the outcome and send you or your contractor payments, either as direct deposit or mailed checks.
  8. Complete repairs. Your contractor will work with you directly to get the repairs made. Some contractors will accept partial payments so you can get repairs done quickly before your claim check comes in.

What if I can’t stay in my home while it’s being repaired?

Most homeowners and renters insurance includes coverage for additional living expenses, which includes the cost of temporary housing if the repairs needed to fix your home make it uninhabitable. Check your policy to understand any exclusions and coverage limits, such as daily caps on meals or a hotel room.

How much will it cost to repair damage to my home out of pocket?

It depends on how much damage was done. If you don’t have enough coverage, you may be facing thousands of dollars worth of damage due to theft, or more if a fire breaks out.

The average home insurance claim is around $11,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute. However, that number may be high since many homeowners don’t bother claiming small amounts of damage. If the amount of damage is less than your deductible and you can replace what was damaged or stolen, you might reconsider making a claim and risking higher insurance premiums in the future.

How do I prevent property vandalism?

There are a few steps you can take to help protect your property from damage:

  • Keep valuables out of site and safely hidden.
  • Invest in security systems, cameras or alarms.
  • Lock all doors and windows even when you’re home.
  • Take a video of items in your house to make future claims easier.

If your home is in the line of active violence, get to a safer location until the situation changes.

Compare home insurance policies to protect your property

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Bottom line

Your safety matters most in times like these. But once the damage is done, understanding your coverage options for repairing your home can help you find peace of mind and move forward. Take the time to shop around for home insurance to be sure your policy is the right one for you.

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