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Does your insurance cover civil commotion, public disorder and riots?

Authors: Tony Canny Consultant

During this time of civil commotion, public disorder, rioting and looting in South Africa, many businesses and persons have sustained and continue to sustain financial losses and therefore want to know whether they have insurance cover for these losses.

Property and business interruption insurance policies generally do not cover losses caused by civil commotion, public disorder, rioting and looting. In addition, they do not provide insurance cover for losses caused by having to spend money to supress such activities.

However, in South Africa we have insurance cover available through SASRIA (South African Special Risks Association). SASRIA is a state-owned enterprise that insures special risks that are generally not covered by short-term insurers.

SASRIA insurance cover is not legally required and is not automatically included in short-term insurance policies. Therefore, if you have sustained losses because of the abovementioned activities, the first step is to ascertain whether you have SASRIA insurance cover for such events. If you do and wish to claim, you should urgently:

  • Notify your insurance broker of your claim and your insurance broker should then notify SASRIA.

  • Start gathering all evidence required to substantiate your SASRIA claim. In that connection keep any photograph and/or video coverage.

It is required that you prove your claim and that it falls within the cover provided by SASRIA.

In addition, any business or person that has been affected by the recent civil commotion, public disorder, rioting and looting may, depending on the circumstances, be able to utilise:

  • Force majeure clauses in contracts, or

  • The law of supervening impossibility of performance

to avoid contractual claims against them, arising from not being able to deliver their obligations under the relevant contract/s.

If you require legal advice and/or assistance in connection with SASRIA claims or other insurance matters, please contact our insurance specialist Tony Canny at or call him on 082 490 9795.


Lawtons Africa is a South African law firm. With roots that grew out of seeds sown in down-town Johannesburg in 1892, our history features various changes and different names. Our team of lawyers, including directors, consultants, associates and candidate attorneys is highly qualified, market-recognised and skilled. For further information, visit

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