Insured Losses Due to Civil Unrest Seen Nearing 1992 Levels

Insured losses related to civil disorder in 2020 are on their way toward a level not seen since 1992, according to estimates by insurance industry analysts. 

On May 26, 2020, protests and riots broke out in response to the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody and spread to another 140 U.S. cities. By June 4, at least 40 cities in 23 states had imposed curfews, and rioting resulted in at least six deaths. National Guard were called in at least 21 states and Washington, D.C. 

Property Claim Services (PCS) a unit of a Verisk Analytics, has designated the Minneapolis riots a catastrophe. This was the first time PCS has compiled insured losses for a civil disorder event since the Baltimore riots of April 2015. Insured losses in the Baltimore unrest – following the funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old who died in police custody – fell short of $25 million when it occurred, PCS’s threshold for a catastrophe.  

The 2020 activity, spanning May 26 through June 8 and including more than 20 states with significant losses, is the first time since 1992 that PCS has declared a civil disorder event a catastrophe. The 1992 riots in Los Angeles, after a jury acquitted Los Angeles Police Department officers for using excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King, caused $775 million in insured losses, according to PCS – or about $1.4 billion in 2020 dollars. 

Insured losses for the most recent event are not yet available from PCS. Preliminary estimates from industry analysts put the losses in the range of $500 million to $900 million.

Those estimates will likely change as insurers are resurveyed and data is refined. 

With protests and clashes with police continuing in Portland, Ore., and elsewhere, and President Trump threatening to send federal troops to quell the disorder in some cities, no end seems to be in sight for this costly string of civil disturbances.