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Risk in Context

4 Ways to Prepare for Civil Unrest Risks

Posted by Renata Elias August 23, 2017

A violent clash between protesters and counterprotesters at a political rally in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month is the latest example of how civil unrest can quickly develop and threaten people and property. Here are four ways organizations can prepare and respond accordingly. 

Advance Planning

Organizations should ideally have a plan formed in advance. However, if this is not the case, organizations should at the very least begin planning when a rally or protest is announced near where they have operations, employees, or customers. The foremost concern should be people, including employees, students, and customers, who could potentially be confronted by event participants or trapped for extended periods of time. In consultation with local law enforcement and other authorities, organizations could consider temporarily closing or advising employees to work from home during such events. At the same time, employees should be prepared to evacuate or take shelter when instructed by officials. All plans should be tested and refined through regular tabletop exercise sessions. 


Communication is essential during any crisis. Organizations should consider what the messaging to key stakeholders should be in advance and have policies and tools in place to communicate with employees. 

Business Continuity

Disruption to normal operations may occur if a specific geographic location or key infrastructure, such as roads or public transportation systems, becomes temporarily inaccessible or damaged. Organizations should plan for the possibility of temporarily suspending operations, rerouting or delaying shipments, or assigning employees or functions to other locations. 

Insurance Considerations

Property, workers’ compensation, and general liability coverage could apply if an event becomes violent or destructive and causes damage or injury to an organization’s property, employees, or other individuals, including customers and students. 

Prior to an event, organizations should review these and any other applicable insurance policies, including limits, sublimits, deductibles, and reporting requirements. If a claim must be filed, policyholders should be ready to provide insurers with: 

  • A detailed list of extra expenses, including temporary repairs and lost income.

  • Evidence of damage, including photos and videos if available.

  • Information about closures or restrictions by civil authorities and others.

Civil unrest and violence can develop quickly and affect organizations and their people no matter the location. Organizations can do little to stop such unrest, but they can prepare for it. Through thorough and well-tested crisis management, crisis communications, emergency response, and business continuity plans and appropriate insurance coverage, you can be ready to respond in a crisis, protect your people and assets, and more quickly return to normal operations. 

Related to:  Marsh Risk Consulting

Renata Elias

Consultant, Marsh Risk Consulting Strategic Risk Practice