For most of my adult life, riots were such a rare occurrence that the phrase “what a riot” was a way of saying “that was a lot of fun.” Over the last few years, and especially the last few weeks, the term “riot” has no connotation of “fun” about it. Well, at least not to sane people. I’m sure some of the riot participants think they are having a grand ol’ time as they destroy the property of others and inconvenience people. In fact, as best I can discern, many of the rioters seem to think they are engaged in a noble and patriotic activity. Were they remaining peaceful and not destroying property, I would likely agree that their protest is noble.
I could get all political here, but I won’t. Except to say that it is clearly one particular side of the political spectrum causing all of the chaos right now, and it is supposed to be the side that espouses its belief in tolerance, peace, love, and freedom of speech. Yet, the latest violent riot in Berkeley, California was intended to (and successfully did) prevent controversial libertarian Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking. The violence and hate on display among these rioters was truly ironic – and the rioters themselves seem to be totally blind to the irony.
The relevance of the increasing frequency and intensity of riots to risk management and insurance is clear. Insurance coverage is typically afforded for “riot and civil commotion” in most homeowners and commercial property insurance policies. Soft markets notwithstanding, insurance underwriters have to be taking a harder look at locations they are insuring and evaluating the potential for riots. Major population centers and especially colleges and universities are of particular concern these days when it comes to riot loss exposures. Risk managers in areas where protests may evolve into violent riots have their hands full right now, and need to be talking with local law enforcement about plans to protect property and personal safety.
Whatever happened to the nobility of peaceful, non-violent protests? We just celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day to remember his accomplishments that were brought about through peaceful protests and the open expression of ideas as encapsulated in Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech. The riots, and the rioters are disgraceful, not noble. And they are costing us all dearly in the form of increasing insurance costs and even more so in the form of dividing us more deeply as a nation.
Incidentally, it’s been awhile since my last blog post. It was a busy autumn. That’s my only excuse. I’ll try to get back to a more regular posting schedule in 2017. I’m sure there will be plenty of risk and insurance material to cover. Stay safe and sane out there folks.