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Will insurance cover businesses damaged by looting? It depends

Sam Dean, Laurence Darmiento and Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

A few miles east of Kitson, crowds broke the glass door and windows at Chi Spacca, the upscale Italian restaurant that had been operating as the Mozza to Go takeout operation during the coronavirus lockdown.

Once inside, they took all the restaurant's wine, electronics, an empty cash register and some chef's knives; threw plates; and lit a pool of lighter fluid on fire on the floor. Next door at Osteria Mozza, looters took a third of the liquor from the bar and some high-end champagne, according to Kate Greenberg, director of operations for the restaurant group.

"I hope it's all covered" by insurance, Greenberg said. "I don't see why we wouldn't be."

Mozza's staff spent Sunday photographing the damage and plans to take a 3D image on Monday to show the insurance adjusters the extent of the fire damage. "Whether it was a salad thrown out or anything, we're taking a photo of it all," Greeenberg said.

Now, to try and prevent further damage, business owners across the city are boarding up display windows and removing as much valuable inventory as they can. Ross said he boarded up his Kitson stores Sunday and went to a pop-up location in Beverly Hills and loaded up his car.

"I didn't know what to take, so I only took the most valuable stuff," Ross said, such as jewelry and sunglasses.

 

Big companies also prepared for more damage Sunday. Target closed or adjusted the hours of 175 locations across the country in response to the protests, including 49 stores in California. Whole Foods locations in and around Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Chicago remained closed Sunday, and Walmart and Apple announced that many of their stores would shutter across the country.

Until this weekend, the two most costly civil disturbances in the nation's history occurred in Watts in 1965 and Los Angeles in 1992, following the acquittal of four police officers in the beating of African American motorist Rodney King.

The 1992 unrest was the most costly in U.S. history, causing an estimated $1.4 billion in property damage in today's dollars, according to the data analytics provider Verisk Analytics and the Insurance Information Institute. The Watts unrest resulted in $357 million in damage, similarly accounting for inflation.

The cost of this week's unrest is yet to be tallied -- but in many cases, insurers will likely be stuck with the bill.

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