Civil Unrest: Protecting Your Practice

Most public gatherings, including protests, are peaceful. However, episodes of civil unrest can erupt from congregations that begin as calm events but escalate out of the control of organizers. This shift from gathering to rioting can result in personal injuries, fatalities, property damage, loss of business activity, disruption of organizational supply chains and a reduction in access to banking institutions. Organizations that could be affected by civil unrest should review safety and security procedures, crisis management and business continuity plans and relevant insurance coverages.

 General Considerations

  • Stay informed. Pay close attention to local television, radio broadcasts and alerts issued by local governments, police or civil protection agencies
  • Prepare for a possible shutdown of civil services, schools etc.
  • Understand that the cellular networks may become overwhelmed.
  • Have a first aid kit available
  • During periods of long-term civil unrest, be sure that you have adequate amounts of cash in case the banks close.

 If Civil Unrest Escalates

  • It is in your best interest not to participate in a protest. Avoid large groups of people, especially demonstrations. 
  • Stay indoors and do not watch activity from your window.
  • Contact your local and home office representatives.
  • In some cases, there may be a need for organizing an evacuation plan. The plan should include safe locations such as an embassy, hotel meeting place, airport, etc.
  • If the embassy of your country is attacked, it is best to head to the airport as soon as safely possible. If it is not possible to do so safely then you must remain in a sheltered place.
  • If you must shelter indoors, try to secure a supply of food and water.
  • Avoid using local public transportation, and steer clear of bus and train stations.

 Business Consideration During Civil Unrest

Protesters may target businesses in order to steal property, gain publicity and for purposes of revenge. The controlled substances held within practices may be a target for those who are looting and rioting. It is important to understand that the police, fire and other emergency services will likely be overwhelmed, emergency calls will be prioritized, and areas may be deemed off limits or without law enforcement support. 

With the potential for curfews, cessation of public transportation, closing of roads and loss of telecommunications or power, creating crisis and business continuity plans can assist in successfully emerging from an event. By positioning your practice to withstand possible interruptions through a proactive production increase, allowing early inventory shipment, rerouting deliveries or relocating critical resources, a civil unrest crisis can be managed more seamlessly.

  • Ensure the crisis plan is in place, updated and that the practice leadership is aware of their roles.
  • Conduct a physical security audit to determine any weak points.
  • Contact local authorities and companies in your area to discuss plans. 
  • Monitor news sources and social media to maintain awareness of evolving issues. 
  • Review the need to modify working hours or close early to allow staff to get home safely. 
  • Identify how to communicate updates to the workforce on government advisories, changes to business operations and payroll processing. 
  • Determine critical functions that need to be sustained and identify potential workarounds. 
  • Identify any potential supply chain disruptions and review management options. 
  • Review fire, safety and security procedures, if the unrest is close to the physical structures. 
  • Make sure doors are locked and board up windows, if needed. 
  • Remove cash and small valuables and relocate to a safer place, if possible. 
  • Take caution when leaving employees behind to protect property, monitor sensitive equipment, and patients. 
  • It is important to review safety concerns and any applicable employment issues. 
  • Consider adding signage and barriers around the facility to clearly identify “no access” or “no trespassing” areas. 
  • Consider hiring security guards. It is important to review local regulations, ensure compliance and clearly identify expectations of the guards prior to the beginning any onsite presence. 
  • Remove trash and any other unwanted combustible materials that may be used to start fires. 
  • Ensure that external lighting is operating as designed
  • Remove and avoid parking vehicles overnight in high-risk areas or close to the building
  • Contact your insurance professional to determine your coverage for these events.

 Insurance Consideration for Civil Unrest

Well before unrest develops, businesses should review applicable insurance coverages that may apply, such as property, auto, business interruption, political risk, supply chain and trade credit. Organizations also should review and become familiar with the claims procedures to ensure the processes are understood. 

  • Vital records such as insurance policies, contact lists, and financial and property records should be accessible in hard copy and electronic formats via local and alternative location sources
  • Prepare to capture potential loss information and additional costs associated from the event, including temporary repairs, extra expenses and business interruption loss of income costs.
  • Take photographs or videos of the facilities and assets before and after damage.
  • Prepare to file claims as quickly as possible.
  • Contact your broker for additional assistance.
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