Between 6-10 August 2011 many cities and towns in England were hit by the worst riots in a generation. An estimated 13,000 -15,000 people were involved in the rioting, which cost five people their lives. More than 5,000 crimes were committed, including 1,860 incidents of arson and criminal damage, 1,649 burglaries and 366 attacks on people. Some 661 areas experienced riots.
While there has been much debate about the possible underlying causes of the rioting and how to reduce the likelihood of them happening again, two things are indisputable: the scale of the distress and property damage caused, and the important role of insurers in helping businesses and homeowners recover. Insurers responded quickly to help their customers whose homes and businesses had been damaged or destroyed by the riots. Insurers expect to pay out around £200 million.
The riots also highlighted the importance of a little known 126-year old piece of legislation - The Riot (Damages) Act 1886 - which provides compensation to those affected. The Act ensures that riot insurance continues to remain widely available and competively priced as a standard component of property insurance. Old though it is, the purpose of the Act stands the test of time; arguably it is more relevant today than ever. But, not surprisingly, the 2011 riots highlighted that it needs to be updated, and we urge the Government to learn the lessons of last August to ensure that the Act is updated so that it is fit for purpose in our modern society.