We’d like to thank the British Association of Removers who recently published an article about concerns raised by their members over the actions and possible implications of the Gilets Jaunes (or ‘Yellow Coats’) protest in France. This issue also raises concerns over wider issues of civil unrest and how that may affect your insurance. This prompted them to ask their panel insurers Basil Fry & Co and Reason Global to provide some guidelines about what may or not be insured if you were unfortunate enough to be affected.

We contacted both insurers and they kindly provided us with an overview of this advice which we hope will allay some of these concerns:

‘We understand that concerns have been aired about the activities of the ‘Yellow Coats’ in France (and potentially civil unrest in other countries) and the possible implication of such actions on insurances covering vehicles and crew. We have raised those concerns with some of the industry’s leading insurers and they have offered the following advice:

‘At first glance, there may appear to be some crossover between ‘riot’ and ‘terrorism’, however in insurance terms the two issues can be differentiated. A terrorist attack must be ‘motivated by racial or political means or with the intention of overthrowing the government’, but, generally speaking, this is distinct from a ‘riot’ with a political/governmental motive. ‘Riot and civil commotion’ typically lacks planning and is a spontaneous reaction to a provocation, i.e. police involvement during a protest.

Gilets Jaunes protesters in Paris

Individuals involved in such an event, typically, have not been involved in any detailed planning in advance. Where attacks involve multiple individuals, however, there is usually a common goal based on a plan made in advance. Insurers would therefore argue that the two perils, being ‘Terrorism’ and ‘Riot and civil commotion’, are quite distinct.

That said, Terrorism is a general exclusion to most if not all Motor Insurance policies provided; ‘Riot and civil commotion’ however, is approached differently by a panel of insurers. Generally, different Insurers have different appetites for being helpful in defining the proximate cause of a claim. The perils clearly cross over slightly and one could probably argue an act falls mainly into one category but has the potential to be considered in either camp.

Motor Insurance policy wordings have been reviewed and the cover is, generally, maintained for ‘Riots and Civil Commotion’ throughout the Territorial Limits (usually Great Britain, Isle of Man and European Union, Switzerland, etc.), except Northern Ireland, where that cover is excluded.

In terms of Employers Liability coverage, there is usually no terrorism exclusion in place, so the classification would not matter in such a situation and with regards to Customer Goods’ cover, again there is usually coverage for goods in transit, even if terrorist related and exclusions of terrorism are generally applied to long-term storage only under any such policy.

Given the differences that will undoubtedly exist between the various insurers involved, it would be our recommendation that companies speak directly with their insurance broker to obtain confirmation of the cover in place under their own specific policies’.