Riots can occur unexpectedly and cause significant damage to nearby cars and buildings. Property owners have a right to be concerned after a riot, because they could be looking at thousands of dollars in repairs, and without the right insurance, those expenses would need to be paid out of pocket.
Car insurance will cover damage from riots, but only if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your policy. Comprehensive coverage isn’t mandatory in any state, but it covers damage to your car that occurs when you aren’t driving.
It isn't always necessary to file a claim for damage from a riot, however: If the cost to repair your car is close to or less than the deductible you would need to pay to receive coverage, then it’s not worth it to file a claim with your car insurance company and risk the rate increase.
Does car insurance cover riot damage?
Riots and other unrest can often occur without warning. While car insurance will cover the damage you cause to other drivers in a car accident, it won't cover damage to your actual vehicle unless you have comprehensive and collision coverage in your policy.
Comprehensive coverage pays to repair or replace your car if it is damaged in a riot — including fire damage, cracked and shattered windows, dents, spray-paint, and other forms of vandalism if your car is deliberately destroyed during a riot.
However, if your car windows are smashed and some of your personal belongings are taken from your car, like your backpack, phone, wallet or other items, the cost to replace them wouldn’t be covered by car insurance, even if you have comprehensive coverage. In order to be reimbursed for the items stolen from your car, you would need to file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance.
Why is it important to carry comprehensive coverage?
Comprehensive coverage can cover damage from riots, but it’s important because it can also cover damage from other common events that are not a collision, such as:
Flooding or water damage
Hail or windstorm
Comprehensive coverage is part of what’s known as a “full-coverage” policy, and is often paired with collision coverage (which covers damage to your own car after a collision). Comprehensive coverage costs an average of $167.91 per year, according to a report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners  , but it’s worth adding to your policy if you want to protect your car from damage that can happen when you’re not driving.
It may be especially important for drivers who park their cars on the street rather than in a carport or garage, where it may be more likely to be damaged while it’s not being driven.
Filing a claim for riot damage vs. paying out of pocket
Even with comprehensive coverage, it may not be worth it to file a claim for damage from a riot. If the cost of the damage is close to or less than your deductible, you would need to pay for the repairs out of pocket anyway.
Comprehensive coverage deductibles are typically set at $500 or $1,000, but if the damage would cost less than that to fix, then you can skip filing a claim. You can go to a local repair shop to get an estimate for the repairs to see if it would be worth filing a claim.
How to file a car insurance claim for riot damage
If you think your car has been damaged by a riot or other civil commotion, you can file a claim with your car insurance company and your comprehensive coverage will pay for necessary repairs. These are the steps to filing a car insurance claim for riot damage:
Take pictures of the scene - First assess the situation to make sure it is not immediately dangerous, then safely document the damage. Take pictures of your car from every angle and note the date and time you discovered the damage
Speak to any eyewitnesses - If anyone was around during the incident, take down their name and contact information
File a police report - You may need a police report to file a claim for riot damage. Call 911 at the scene to file a police report. You’ll probably be asked to provide information like your car’s make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN)
Contact your car insurance company - You should reach out to your car insurance provider and notify them of the damage as soon as possible. You should be able to reach them over the phone, online, or through a mobile app, and you may even be able to file a claim right from the scene of the damage
Stay in touch - A claims adjuster will be assigned to your claim. They’ll assess the damage and determine how much your insurance will need to cover you. Respond quickly to any requests from your adjuster, the more you help them with the claim, the faster the process will be
Repair your vehicle - Once your claim has been accepted, your car insurance provider will make a payment to you or directly to a body shop for the damage (minus the deductible amount). You should save any documents or receipts related to the repairs