Property Damage Laws in Lieu of Philadelphia Protests

A black and white photo of a crowd of protestors holding up signs like 'Justice 4 George' and 'Black Lives Matter'.

The current civil unrest occurring across the nation has left many business owners to pick up the pieces. Peaceful protests have often given way to rioting and looting in many of our nation’s cities. Philadelphia was not left unscathed. While businesses attempt to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, they now have to weather another storm.

Many business owners lived in the community in which they ran their business and were disappointed with what was happening to their community as a whole. While there are some business owners who support the cause and are prepare to repair structures and replace inventory, there are others who are left without recourse. Storefronts that once stood tall and proud, many run by African American entrepreneurs wear the scars of the struggle.

Philadelphia businesses that were attempting to keep afloat while their municipalities were under stay at home orders were having a hard time staying afloat with some of them paying their employees while not taking in any money. These same business owners now have to rebuild their businesses from the ground up, delaying their return to normal. Business owners who worked their entire lives to establish themselves in the community are having to start over.

While there are organizations willing to help rebuild in the Philadelphia area, when there are a large number of businesses affected in one area, the help can run out. The cost of cleaning up, repairing door and windows, and restocking inventory can be insurmountable for some. Some locations were burned to the ground.

The Outlook

The cost of looting and vandalism is high in the U.S. The Insurance Information Institute lists $774 million in damages following the Rodney King aftermath that occurred almost three decades ago. Losses of this amount would equate to $1.42 billion today. Insurance professionals predict that losses will likely surpass those numbers, possibly reaching catastrophic levels.

The Good News

But there is some good news, according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, with the right coverage most small businesses will be covered by their business insurance. Most policies combine property, liability and business interruption. Listed as one of the “named perils”, looting and is covered. Damage to the property and loss of contents are both covered when there are fires, riots or vandalism involved. Insurance professionals are of the mind that the damages caused in the midst of unrest is no comparison to the huge losses suffered over a large area with hurricanes and natural disasters. Commercial policies will pay for physical damage caused by vandalism. Business owners may get relief for the interruption of business and loss of income suffered during this time and comes with a 72 hour waiting period.

Here is What You Should Do

It is important that you file an official police report, ensuring that the report lists the damages and the cause. Take as many phots and videos as you can. Get in touch with your insurance agent to get started on filing your claims immediately. Review your insurance policy yourself and read it fully to understand what your coverages are. How your claim will be evaluated will be dictated by the terms of your policy and the unique facts surrounding your damage.

What Happens Next

An adjuster will visit your business. Before their visit compile any documents that would detail the costs of inventory loss and quotes for repairs, etc. Hopefully there are backups to any computerized inventory. While it can be time consuming, the adjuster needs the complete picture in order to make you whole. Calculate the income lost because of the looting, show the normal income and what you were projected to profit had your business not been damaged.

Getting compensation may take time, up to a month. Your claims for property and inventory losses will likely be handled before the claim for interruption of business. In the meantime, consider short-term financing. The cost of these loans could be covered by your commercial insurance policy. Ensure that you fully cooperate with and respond to your agent and adjuster. This speeds up the process of processing your claim.

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