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Insured losses following riots may be 'catastrophic'

Are individuals covered if their property was damaged during the recent riots?

DENVER — Losses for businesses and individuals related to damage caused during the evenings that followed peaceful daytime protests in relation to the in-custody death of George Floyd will likely reach "catastrophic" levels, according to insurance professionals. 

Protests in response to the death of Floyd started in Denver on Thursday, May 28. They're meant to make a statement on Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer was seen kneeling on his neck in a video that has been widely shared to social media. His death has sparked rallies across the country.

That officer and other officers at the scene have been fired. Former officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to Floyd's death, and three other officers face charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

RELATED: Chauvin charges elevated to 2nd-degree murder in Floyd's death, 3 other officers charged

Protests were peaceful during the day, but occassionally escalated to riots at night that included fires, vandalism, graffiti and looting, as well as confrontations with police in which tear gas, pepper balls and foam projectiles were deployed.

Denver has recorded at least 200 instances of damage, with more than 130 of those along the 16th Street Mall, according to data from member businesses compiled by the Downtown Denver Partnership.

Cities across the country experience similar damage. Madison, Wis. had 75 businesses damaged or looted. Seattle and Pittsburgh both report damage to at least 50 businesses each. And 45 downtown Chicago businesses filed claims, according to the insurance industries Claims Journal.

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Walker said most insurance companies do not consider damage done during rioting under its "special" exclusions clause.

"So in a riot situation where there is vandalism to your car, or the car catches on fire, that’s likely going to be covered under that optional comprehensive coverage," Walker said. "It also covers you for windshield damage."

There will, however, likely be out-of-pocket expenses due to deductibles.

Windshields, especially on newer cars, can also be more expensive to replace (and to insure) because of the technology associated with them.

Windshields used to be a comprised of a couple of sheets of formed glass with a piece of plastic between them, and could generally be replaced for around $200. But newer windshields often include antennas, special shading, sensors for autonomous breaking systems and collision warning systems — and, in some cases, windshields help support the structural integrity of the car. 

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