The damage from riots and looting across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd is estimated to be the costliest in insurance history – between $1 billion and $2 billion.
Insurance Information Institute (or Triple-I) compiles information from a company called Property Claim Services (PCS), which has tracked insurance claims related to civil disorder since 1950, and other databases. It provided reports to Axios that the damage from unrest between May 26 and June 8 will be the most expensive in the nation’s history, surmounting the Rodney King riots of 1992 in Los Angeles.
The price tag could be as much as $2 billion and possibly more, according to Triple I. But the protests related to Floyd differ from others the database has tracked – never before have they been so widespread.
"It's not just happening in one city or state – it's all over the country," Loretta L. Worters of the Triple-I told Axios. "And this is still happening, so the losses could be significantly more."
The last time PCS compiled insurance losses for a “civil disorder event” was 2015, when riots erupted in Baltimore after Freddie Gray died from a neck injury in police custody. But those riots did not even accrue $25 million in damages.
Other big losses on the list include the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965, the 1967 Detroit riot, and the New York City blackout of 1977.
The insurance industry is bracing for possible unrest following the November election. "There could be riots that lead to significant losses that would meet our reporting thresholds," Tom Johansmeyer, head of PCS, said. The company classifies anything over $25 million in insured losses as “a catastrophe.”
Riots and peaceful protests against police brutality have not only ripped through America’s major cities but also its rural areas – from Lancaster, Pa., to Kenosha, Wis.
Civil unrest, compounded by rapid-spreading wildfires, have been nearly constant in cities on the West Coast. Two deputies were shot in Los Angeles, and protesters reportedly showed up at the hospital where they were being treated shouting slogans like "Death to the police!" The LA County Sheriff's Department wrote on Twitter that the protesters were blocking the emergency room entrance.
In Portland, protesters clashed with police for over 100 straight days, before Oregon declared a state of emergency and over 500,000 were forced to flee their homes due to fires.