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Gephardt: Does Insurance Cover Damages From Riots?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Police officers were the main target for those protesters who turned violent during a demonstration in downtown Salt Lake City.

As we now know, they weren’t the only target Saturday.

As the sun rose Sunday morning, we got a clear look at the damage left behind – graffiti on buildings and cars, including one belonging to our colleagues at KSL Newsradio.

There were smashed windows for more than a mile on both public and private property.

While an inspiring mob of volunteers descended on Utah’s capitol city to help with the clean-up effort, damages ranged in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

“They’ve done several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of damage,” said Utah Insurance Commissioner Todd Kiser. “Someone has to pay for it.”

The good news was most damage done to private property is covered by insurance.

“If you’ve purchased a policy, you would have vandalism and riot coverage,” Kiser said.

Your house, condo or apartment, if you have renters insurance, is covered by virtually all insurance policies.

The same is true of most businesses that carry business insurance, both for the structure as well as stolen items, Kiser said.

He said people he knows elsewhere in the country have reached out to him, saying their businesses are located where protests are planned. His advice to them was call their agent and then steer clear.

“If you go down and get involved, it could have serious consequences for you,” Kiser said. “You could be harmed.”

Now the bad news: if your car is damaged, it may not be covered.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, close to 1 in 10 Utah motorists don’t have insurance. Even those who do, by law, are only required to carry liability insurance, which covers things you might hit, but not your car.

If you have a comprehensive insurance policy on your ride, it would cover vandalism.

All of this coverage is, of course, subject to the policy’s deductible, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Most government buildings and property departments are self-insured, which means that it’s funded by taxpayers. Translation: most of the damage from Saturday, you’re paying for.

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