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Posted on: June 3, 2020

Insurance Coverage for Losses Caused by Riots, Civil Commotion and Vandalism


The South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI) would like to provide consumers and business owners with information on insurance coverage for losses caused by riots, civil commotion and vandalism.

South Carolina law defines a riot as a tumultuous disturbance of the peace by three or more persons assembled together on their own authority, with the intent to assist each other against anyone who should oppose them and putting their design into execution in a terrific and violent manner, whether the object was lawful or not. A civil commotion is similar to a riot but it involves more people. It is a revolt by a large gathering of people in a public place. Riot and civil commotion can be difficult to differentiate so the perils are often listed together. Vandalism refers to the intentional destruction of another party’s property.

Generally speaking, many property insurance policies and comprehensive auto insurance coverage provide coverage for damages caused by riots, civil commotion or vandalism. Below is a general summary of the coverages that may be available by line of insurance.

Important Note: The SCDOI urges policyholders to read and review their polices to fully understand what is covered and what type of insurance they have. Policyholders are strongly encouraged to contact their agents or their insurance companies if they have questions about their policy or their coverage. The SCDOI’s Office of Consumer Services can also provide assistance by phone at 1-803-737-6180 or by email to

 Auto Insurance

  • Damage to cars is generally covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy. This provides reimbursement for damages, less the policy’s deductible, to the vehicle caused by fire, falling objects, vandalism or riot.
  • Comprehensive coverage will also reimburse you if your windshield is cracked or shattered.  

Business Property Insurance

  • Damage to the building of a business and its contents that is caused by fire, riots, civil commotion or vandalism is generally covered under a business owner’s policy, depending on the type of coverage selected.
  • Coverage for plate glass windows is often sold separately. Please read your policy and talk with your insurance agent to determine if you have this coverage.
  • Businesses that are forced to suspend operations or limit hours due to rioting may have coverage for the loss of income under business income insurance—also known as business interruption. However, this is only triggered if certain conditions exist and is dependent upon policy language.

Homeowners Insurance

  • Generally, a homeowners insurance policy provides both property and liability insurance coverage for a residential insured. Its terms vary somewhat depending on the type of residence and perils covered. Most homeowner policies provide coverage for damage to the structure or the insured’s personal property contents.
  • There is a vacancy clause in many policies that will limit coverage if the property has been vacant or unoccupied for a specified period of time (for example, 60 days).

Contact Our Office of Consumer Services with Questions

The SCDOI’s Office of Consumer Services can help answer your questions about riot coverage or other insurance issues.

Email:│ Call: 803-737-6180│ Toll-Free: 1-800-768-3467

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Mon. – Fri.)

File an Insurance Complaint

If you’re having a specific problem with an insurance company, broker, agent, or adjuster, file a complaint with our Office of Consumer Services at

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