News & Politics

Sorry, Your Homeowners Insurance Might Not Cover Insurrection

Could be time to take a look at that policy you've never read?

Photograph by Evy Mages

Even if you haven’t spent a lot of time poring over the fine print of your homeowners insurance policy, you probably know what to expect under normal circumstances. Fire in the attic? Likely covered. Flood in the basement? Likely not covered.

But in recent weeks, life in DC has hardly been “normal circumstances,” what with the whole sacking-of-the-Capitol, violent-insurrection thing. So it might surprise you to learn that many insurance policies exclude situations that, while previously absurd to even contemplate, now seem frighteningly relevant.

Insurrection, for example. Your insurance probably doesn’t cover it. Take a look at this language from a Liberty Mutual policy for one DC home, which states that “we do not insure for loss caused directly or indirectly for any of the following” and lists a bunch of routine exclusions such as “water damage” and “neglect.” Then there’s this:

War, including the following and any consequence of the following:

(1) Undeclared war, civil war, insurrection, rebellion or revolution

A few weeks ago, in Washington, those scenarios seemed about as plausible as a blaze ignited by Daenerys piloting Drogon down Connecticut Ave. But in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob that has often been characterized as insurrectionist, and with more violence possible around Joe Biden’s Inauguration and beyond, such things no longer seem quite as far-fetched. So should a passing seditionist mob happen to toss a Molotov cocktail through your living-room window—not an impossibility these days—your insurance company might, in theory, choose to contest the claim.

The policy quoted above doesn’t define “insurrection,” so it’s not clear whether recent (or future) unrest would qualify. And, of course, no homes were actually damaged during the attack on the Capitol. But with so much uncertainty about what could happen next in our city, you might, just in case, want to give your policy a quick glance.

And who knows: If the dystopian predictions about years of potential Trump-fueled extremist violence come true, customers might soon start asking insurance companies to update their protections.

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Politics and Culture Editor

A DC native, Rob Brunner moved back to the city in 2017 to join Washingtonian. Previously, he was an editor and writer at Fast Company and other publications. He has also written for the New York Times Magazine, New York, and Rolling Stone, among others. He lives with his family in Chevy Chase DC.