Riot help welcomed – but shops ‘must contact insurers’

With insurance companies warning that the cost of last week’s riots could be as much as £200m, BHETA is urging businesses that suffered damage to get in touch with their insurers and the police as soon as possible.

Riot help welcomed - but shops 'must contact insurers'

Under the Riot Damages Act 1886, local police authorities have a legal responsibility to reimburse those who have sustained damage to property as a result of a riot, says BHETA. But any claim under the act must be made in writing and received by the authority within 14 days of an incident.

The organisation believes it is likely insurers will include a clause requiring that they are notified regarding claims for riot and/or civil commotion within seven days of the incident.

Businesses must be able to quantify and substantiate any losses, and this is likely to be by both a schedule of loss and statement of truth within a week of the incident.

The act does allow for applications for an extension, but the decision to provide this rests with the local police authority alone, according to BHETA.

The organisation says it has been advised that applications for extension are likely to be resisted in view of government cuts, although the Association of British Insurers has urged the Home Secretary to extend the claims period to 42 days.

The act also excludes liability for loss of damage to cars left on public highways, goods left in shops for repair and/or consequential losses.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium says the violent attacks will turn out to be “the final straw” for some shops struggling in the current economic climate – as has proved to be the case for the Salford branch of TJ Hughes, which ceased trading this week as a direct result of riot damage.

However, the BRC also says that measures outlined by Prime Minister David Cameron in response to the disturbances go a long way towards providing the support many shops need to get up and running again.

It says that a temporary suspension of business rates for affected premises will offer some help to shops facing cash flow problems, and a promise that stores with inadequate insurance will have access to compensation is also a vital measure.

Said BRC director general Stephen Robertson: “The retail sector has been battling difficult trading conditions for much of this year, and sadly for some shops these attacks will be the final straw. Even where shops do manage to stay in business it is likely not all jobs will survive.”

But he went on: “The Prime Minister has listened to our pleas and satisfied the majority of them. The government has shown great willingness to work with retailers to put our streets back together.

“Suspending business rates on wrecked shops, flexibility on VAT collection and reassurance that shortfalls in insurance cover will be made up will all help substantially minimise that risk. Planning flexibilities on security measures should also extend to rebuilding.”

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