Riot and Civil Commotion Coverage for Commercial and Residential Properties

“Riot or Civil Commotion coverage” is commonly found in residential and commercial property insurance policies. There has been a lot of uncertainty amongst business owners that have suffered property losses due to the riots in the past few days. Hopefully the following will clarify some of those concerns.

These perils cause physical damage to the buildings, personal property damage, generate large expenses, and income losses. Riot, civil commotion, and vandalism are covered perils under virtually all commercial property policies. They are covered causes of loss generally found under “specific perils” within an “all risk” policy. Unless riot, civil commotion, or vandalism are specifically excluded in the policy, these damages should be covered.

Perils Defined:

Most property policies do not actually define riot, civil commotion, or vandalism. However, the legal definition of riot can vary. The term typically means a public disturbance involving an act of violence committed by one or more individuals who are part of a group of at least three people. To constitute a riot, the individuals must act together to commit (or threaten to commit) violent acts against other people or property.

A civil commotion is similar to a riot but involves more people. It is a revolt by a large gathering of people in a public place. Riot and civil commotion can be difficult to differentiate so the perils are often listed together. Vandalism refers to the intentional destruction of another’s party’s property.

How the Courts Define the Perils:

In Blackledge v. Omega Insurance Company, four elements were necessary for a riot or civil commotion to exist: (1) Unlawful assembly of three or more people, (2) acts of violence, (3) intent to mutually assist against lawful authority and (4) public terror.

The case of Insurance Co. Of North America v. Rosenberg et al., a riot was defined as the “gathering of three or more persons” with the “common purpose” to do “an un/lawful act [with the intent to use] force or violence.”

In Pan American World Airways, Inc v Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. , the court compared the terms riot and civil commotion,

“The local nature of the perils of “riot” or “civil commotion” imparts occasional local or temporary outbreaks of unlawful violence.”

“Riots and civil commotion are purely ‘domestic disturbances.’”

They are “essentially a kind of domestic disturbance…such as occur among fellow citizens or within the limits of one community.”

In order for a disturbance to qualify as a civil commotion, “the agents causing the disorder must gather together and cause disturbance and tumult.””

General Policy Language:

Modern policies generally include the following as named or specified perils. Specified causes of loss will also have the same perils listed. All of which include riot, civil commotion, and vandalism as a covered loss.

Named Perils: fire, lightning, wind, hail, explosion, smoke, impact from aircraft and vehicles, objects falling from aircraft, strike, riot, civil commotion, vandalism, theft, attempted theft, sprinkler leakage or collapse of buildings.

“Specified Perils” or “Specified Causes of Loss” means aircraft; civil commotion; explosion; falling objects; fire; hail; leakage from fire extinguishing equipment; lightning; riot; “sinkhole collapse”; “Volcanic action”; water damage; weight of ice, snow, or sleet; and windstorm.

In most policies the damages sustained by these actions of riots or civil commotion are generally covered, however there are some policies will not fall within the majority. The easiest way to ensure that your claim is built for the best possible outcome is to refer your policy to a competent insurance professional to determine coverage for property damage or business interruption.  As a courtesy Premier Claims offers free policy reviews, if you are concerned about your policy please reach out to us for your free review.

10A Couch on Ins. § 152:6; Pan American World Airways, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 505 F.2d 989, 1019-20 (2d Cir. 1974).
Ins. Co. of N. Am. v. Rosenberg, 25 F.2d 635, 636 (2d Cir. 1928).
Blackledge v. Omega Ins. Co., 740 So.2d 295 (Miss. 1999).


Building Codes Policy Coverage

In the insurance world, there’s often a gap between policyholders’ expectations and what insurance carriers actually cover. This gap can arise from a lack of knowledge about local building codes, leading to missed items or omissions in insurance claims. Contractors may unwittingly find themselves performing uncompensated work, either due to not requesting payment for specific items or lacking awareness of allowable expenses.

Understanding Ordinance or Law Coverage

Ordinance or Law Coverage stands as a pivotal component within insurance policies, particularly when building regulations influence reimbursements for construction and repairs. The Insurance Information Institute informed policyholders that “building codes are updated periodically and may have changed significantly since a home was built. In the event of damage, a policyholder may be required to rebuild their home to the new code’s standards.” Homeowners’ policies usually include limited building ordinance coverage, which can be extended through an endorsement. This coverage requires carriers to approve repairs following local building codes, compelling contractors to address often-excluded elements like ice and water shields, drip edges, house wraps, and flashings.

Research and Communication

Empowerment lies at the heart of effective insurance claims management. This begins by investing time in comprehending local building codes and manufacturer specifications, coupled with proactive engagement with Building Inspectors. Armed with such knowledge, policyholders gain a more authoritative position when negotiating with insurance carriers. This ultimately ensures equitable compensation for essential repairs, transforming potential challenges into opportunities for a fair resolution.

Navigating Your Policy’s Stance on Ordinance or Law Coverage

One of the most prudent steps policyholders can take is a comprehensive review of their current policy to determine whether Ordinance or Law coverage is included. Overlooking this coverage could lead to unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses or suboptimal repairs that fall short of complete replacement. To locate this part of your policy coverage, “review your declarations page and the policy fine print.  Not all policies list code upgrade coverage in the same way,” as advised by United Policyholders. If your policy lacks this coverage, our Premier Claims team is here to guide you toward incorporating it. We understand the significance of such coverage and its role in safeguarding your interests.

Seeking Assistance with Denied or Underpaid Claims

Navigating insurance claims can sometimes be a complex journey, especially when they’re denied due to local codes. It’s in these moments that policyholders need a steadfast partner. At Premier Claims, we stand ready to assist, armed with adept knowledge, empathy, and professionalism. Our commitment is to guide you through the claims process, ensuring that you receive the rightful compensation you deserve. Facing denied claims due to local codes is not a solitary battle when you have Premier Claims by your side.

In the realm of property insurance claims, knowledge is indeed power. Premier Claims’ dedication to education and assistance reflects our commitment to fostering a more informed policyholder community. By unveiling the intricacies of building codes and insurance coverage, we aim to empower you to navigate claims with confidence. Let our expertise serve as your beacon, ensuring that you not only understand but also assert your rights within the insurance landscape. Connect with us today to embark on a journey of knowledge, empowerment, and fair claims resolution.


The Stock Market Trend and How it Affects Insurance Claim Payments

The Coronavirus has significantly affected the stock market, leading to a sharp and rapid decline in average returns. The forecast indicates further deterioration before any improvement. Given the indefinite duration of the pandemic, the market is likely to continue its decline, contributing to a global economic recession expected to be fully established by the end of 2020. In this article, I’ll discuss how the stock market trend impacts insurance claim payments.

S&P 500 2020 Average Annual Return to Date: -17.55%

NASDAQ 2020 Average Annual Return to Date: -11.81%

Dow Jones 2020 Average Annual Return to Date: -20.53%

According to Marco Trends the market has an average annual return rate of -16.63%, compared to a 11.08-15.4% average return in the previous decade within the same indexes. And while the current rate of return for these markets has stabilized, somewhat – according to Market Watch, the current average rate for the three indexes is 1.05%, and it will take the market some time to recover.

Forecasters predict a further drop in stock market returns by the end of Q2 and the beginning of Q3, which is causing concern. Analyst Charles Dumas suggests that we should regard the notion of the economy rebounding swiftly once the pandemic subsides as unlikely and counterintuitive. This perspective rests on the reality of more than 700,000 jobs lost solely in the United States.

Stock Market impact to insurance and property claims

A common belief is that insurance carriers make their profits by charging and accepting premiums. These premiums are then taken into a pool from which both claims are paid and profits are drawn. And while this isn’t entirely inaccurate, insurance carriers are only marginally profitable if they rely on premiums alone. Insurance carriers, like any business and investor, have shareholders and rely upon the stock market. Insurance carriers profit by investing premiums in stocks for returns before paying claims from the premium pool.

Ultimately, with the stock market in a current downtrend, insurance carriers must find another way to keep profits up. This means the industry is likely to see an increase in denied claims and underpaid claims.

What can a policyholder do? Premier Claims offers not only complimentary policy reviews, but risk-free denied and underpaid claim reviews. Premier Claims offers a comprehensive service, including pre-contract legal and insurance review. Once a client contracts with us, our services encompass legal oversight, meticulous estimating using professional software, and persistent negotiation until claims are maximized.

Concerned your claim was underpaid, or receive a denial?

Need to make sure your policy covers what’s needed?

Contact us at or 877.219.0049, or use our Claims Intake page to upload your documents and request your free review today!

Written by: Kyle Maring, CEO & Senior Public Adjuster
Links to cited resources:


Financial Resource Guide for Small Business Owners to navigate through COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty to Small Businesses across the United States. Many business owners are feeling the financial pressures brought on by mandatory closures, or decreased traffic as a result of shutdowns. Things are changing daily as well, so it can make even the most veteran businessperson’s head spin.

What every Small Business Owner needs to know as they navigate COVID-19:

Make sure your employees know about the resources available to them:

If you must lay off employees, recognizing the increased Federal Unemployment Benefits could provide you with peace of mind.

The CARES Act – Payroll Protection Program (PPP)

Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance

Delay the Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes

Business Interruption Coverage provided by your insurance carrier

Click Here to upload your policy and request your complimentary review by our legal team.

Written by CFO Melissa Hurrington


Coronavirus & Business Interruption Insurance Coverage

The Coronavirus global pandemic has significantly impacted not only individuals throughout the world but businesses and their employees’ livelihoods. The United States pledges almost $1 trillion to bail out big businesses and banks, aiming to soften outcomes. However, this action will only help limited small businesses and won’t safeguard the future of everyday working Americans. With an uncertain timeline ahead for the economic impact, many businesses will experience interruption and may fail, resulting in an ever-growing unemployment rate, and a frightening time for those directly affected.

For businesses grappling with prolonged closures due to COVID-19, Premier Claims, a National Public Adjusting Firm, brings hope. We stand by policyholders, advocating for property and business insurance claims. While policies usually cover direct physical loss, extensions might also cover lost revenue during a business interruption. There may also be further coverage for business interruption based on a civil authority shutdown.

Business Interruption Coverage

This coverage typically allows for the recovery of lost income and associated extra expenses.  This coverage requires the interruption resulting from direct physical loss or damage of the insured property caused by a covered peril.  As many states mandate businesses too close, they are specifically referencing that this is being done, at least in part, due to the damage the virus is doing to the property.  This is opening up the door to potential business interruption claims.

Civil Authority Coverage

This coverage is designed to apply when access to an insured’s property is hindered by a civil authority’s order due to physical damage. The damage must result from an insured peril affecting nearby property. This coverage also is opening the door to potential claims.

Whether or not you are going to have coverage is very dependent on your policy.  Many policies have an exclusion of loss due to viruses or bacteria.  These exclusions generally mean that the carrier will not pay for loss or damage caused or resulting from any virus, bacterium, or other microorganism that induces or is capable of inducing physical distress, illness, or disease.  If your policy has this type of exclusion, then recovery under business interruption or civil authority will generally not be a possibility.

Across the nation, states propose bills for COVID-19 business interruption coverage, despite virus exclusion concerns. While questioning their constitutionality, the application of these coverages remains uncertain. The best thing you can do right now, is to review your insurance policies and see if coverage is available.  If an exclusion does apply, then you should monitor some of these bills if applicable to your state.

During this time our firm will be conducting complimentary policy reviews and assessments to assist those affected by these business closures. In addition, Premier Claims is dedicated to reducing our fees in handling the claim in cases where coverage exists, and a claim can be filed.  We’re here to let businesses and commercial property owners know that we are a resource.

Don’t lose hope. We’re here to help. 

Written by Nick Andersen, General Counsel