U.K. Reviews Riot Definition to Aid Insurance Claims

The U.K. government said it will review the Riot Damages Act to examine the criteria for when compensation is due and prevent fraudulent insurance claims two years after the nation’s worst riots since the 1980s.

“The Riot Damages Act was written more than a century ago and so it is only right that we take action to ensure it is fit for purpose,” Policing Minister Damian Green said in an e-mailed statement today. “The aftermath of the 2011 riots showed the need for improvements to speed up the payment of compensation to those who need it and weed out frivolous claims.”

August 2011 saw riots in London, Manchester and the Midlands. Gasoline bombs were thrown and vehicles, homes and businesses were torched. The unrest began on Aug. 6 in the north London suburb of Tottenham, after a local black man, Mark Duggan, was shot and killed by police who stopped his car intending to make an arrest. Rioting and looting spread across the capital and further afield for three days, with police later describing it as “copycat criminal activity” and political leaders saying there was no link to the shooting.

The Association of British Insurers said 200 million pounds ($310 million) was paid out in damages after the riots. The vast majority of claims have been decided on, the Home Office said. Only 2 percent of uninsured claims have not been settled and only 9 percent of payments to insurance companies from police and crime commissioners are outstanding.

The insurers’ organization welcomed the government announcement.

“Those claiming under the act faced an overly bureaucratic process, inconsistent approach and unacceptable delays,” Aidan Kerr, head of property at the ABI, said in an e-mailed statement. “We need to see the Riot Damages Act modernized with a more streamlined and standardized process to ensure those most vulnerable have the reassurance it will help them in what is inevitably a distressing time.”

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