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'Riotous fun' – a misnomer for most

Local authorities and MPs are keeping up the pressure for a better deal for property owners and businesses in the wake of the riots of the summer of 2011. This should ensure that the review of the Riot Damages Act 1886, which was somewhat tardily set in motion by the Home Office last month will not be allowed to sink and disappear.

Even now, some people whose lives were turned upside down in the wake of the riots are still battling to get back some semblance of normality. For example, a businessman based in Ealing in London is still trying to get his cafe business up and running again after it was destroyed having been set on fire by rioters. This man has encountered a series of problems whilst attempting to claim compensation, a common complaint which runs through the whole sorry story of the riots.

What this delay in compensation highlights is the inadequacy of the existing legislation with its antiquated forms, outdated language (which still refers back to pre-decimal currency) as well as the huge gaps in cover which do not match current day life. When the Home Office first began talking seriously about reforming the Act last year, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) was somewhat hesitant because it feared more might be lost than gained: now it seems they have accepted the reforms stating that insurers had faced £200m in insured damage from the riot, with over 95% of business claims settled.

Whilst The Riot Damage Act provides important compensation to the uninsured, the riots of 2011 highlighted the fact that the century old Act needs to be made more relevant to the modern day, so it becomes more streamlined and standardised. This will then allow it to be put into action swiftly to the benefit of those who are most vulnerable and distressed.

As well as clearer riot definitions, the ABI is also wanting to see a standardised claims process for Police Authorities to bring to an end confusion regarding what information is necessary – as well as a much requested increase in the time limit for claims. However, it is thought that careful lobbying will be required by the insurance industry itself to ensure that police forces do not use this review to further limit their responsibilities for compensating people and businesses when riots occur in their areas. Shifting more of the burden to private insurers could appeal to the Home Office, which might then be able to package this as a cut in public expenditure, which will please the Treasury but not those looking to seek compensation.

Professional insurance advice is invaluable should you find yourself needing to claim on your insurance for any type of damage to your property. The events of 2011 are still clearly etched in people's minds and with the economy at a low ebb, the threat of this happening again is clearly a possibility. Making sure you have adequate insurance in place for your property, business, buildings and everything which goes with is vital – at Westhill Insurance Services we can talk through the options available, not only from the perspective of wilful damage, but through accidental damage also. The idea of insurance is that it is there should you need it – and you can't forecast when this may be, so make one quick call to our friendly, professional team and see how you can put an invisible cloak of insurance protection right around your property: it may not deter those intent on wreaking havoc, but it will certainly provide you with peace of mind.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 12th July, 2013