Canadian Underwriter

Vancouver riots create coverage concerns

March 19, 2012   by Suzanne Sharma

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Recent riots in Vancouver have some victims questioning whether they have sufficient coverage for riots, vandalism and malicious acts that are caused intentionally by others.

Damages for retailers and commercial property owners are being estimated in the millions, according to recent media reports. Owners can rest assured, however, because generally riots, vandalism and malicious acts are considered a specific peril and would therefore most likely be covered by most policies, according to Roelien Du Toit, claims director at CNS, part of RSA Group.

Also, he said because looting is considered theft it would also likely be covered within a customer’s commercial policy.

However, Du Toit warns that every insurer is different so it’s always a good idea for business owners to talk to their broker to know exactly what they are covered for within their policies.

“Although no one ever anticipates that disaster will happen to them, the best thing that business owners can do is to be prepared for all risks,” he told Canadian Insurance Top Broker June 17.

RSA recommends that people update and review their business continuity plans and ensure they have incident management procedures in place. On occasions when there is a perceived increased risk, such as a chance of rioting or demonstrations, it’s wise for businesses to increase the security within and around their buildings. Business owners should also look to remove anything from outside of their buildings that can be thrown through windows or set on fire such as garbage cans, bicycle racks or paving stones.

“Finally, businesses should ensure all exterior lights are working and keep the building or office well lit during the night of the perceived risk,” he said. “All these steps can help to mitigate potential damages.”

Auto Damage

Commercial property owners weren’t the only victims of Wednesday night’s mayhem. Rioters inflicted damage to vehicles as well, including flipping over parked cars, lighting them on fire, and smashing windshields.

Adam Grossman, spokesperson at Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), said they’d received calls for about 100 claims so far on Thursday afternoon.

“While most of the claims are steady and straightforward, we’re doing what we can to expedite them as quickly as possible for our customers,” he told Canadian Insurance Top Broker June 17.

British Columbia residents are required to purchase basic insurance coverage through ICBC, and have the option of purchasing optional insurance coverages (either through ICBC or another insurer) as well. The most common coverage that the majority of ICBC customers have is the comprehensive insurance coverage. It covers vanadalism, fire, riots, and earthquakes, and would provide coverage in this type of situation, said Grossman.

It’s important to be proactive when large events occur within cities, he added. Grossman advises customers to call their brokers and ask questions about what type of coverage they have.

“Just be aware of what insurance you have and what else is out there,” he said.

For more news on the Vancouver riot including damage estimates and ongoing clean up efforts, click here.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.