Now that the dust has settled from the recent riots, individuals, homeowners and businesses are looking to recover the cost of the damage caused to their property. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has reported that the cost of the riots could be “well over £100 million”.

So who will cover this substantial cost?

Most commercial insurance policies will cover businesses for damage to their premises, including the interruption to their business as a result, while some policies will also cover businesses that are not damaged but whose trade is / was affected by the aftermath.

However it has emerged that many individuals, homeowners or businesses affected by the riots were not adequately insured, or their insurance does not cover riot damage. In that case they can make a claim under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 directly against the Police. Insurers can also effectively subrogate any insurance claims by re-claiming from the Police under the Act.

It is also important to note that if an insured party makes an insurance claim, they can still also seek compensation from the police for an excess or for uninsured items.

The Prime Minister has confirmed in a Commons statement that the period for making a claim under the Act will be extended from 14 to 42 days.

The Riot (Damages) Act 1886

Essentially, the Act says that when a building - or its contents - has been 'injured or destroyed' by 'any persons riotously and tumultuously assembled together', the police fund can pay compensation.

Steps for those seeking to make a claim under the Act:

If you think the damage to your property might fall within the requirements of the Act or you are an insurer looking to make a claim by way of subrogation, you need to be aware of certain rules that need to be complied with. These include:

  • The claim must be made to the relevant police compensation authority within 42 clear days after the day when the property was injured destroyed or damaged.
  • The claim must be made in writing and in a prescribed form, this requires the claimant to include a description of the incident so that it is clear that it was caused by "persons riotously and tumultuously assembled together."
  • The sums claimed (actual or estimated costs of repair etc) must be broken down into prescribed sections and supporting documents and evidence (including bills / estimates for repairs, and vouchers if possible showing sums paid for the property) must be produced, strictly in accordance with the Regulation.

The extension of time to make a claim from 14 to 42 days is a welcome one, however the deadline is still tight.