UK insurers have called for the law relating to claims for underinsured property damaged during riots to be reviewed, after revealing that more than 50% of claims made to the police were turned down after the riots last summer.
The current law allows insurers and the public to make claims to the police for compensation if clients are found not to have appropriate property insurance, or if they are underinsured.
However, the UK insurance lobby claims that the police operate an inconsistent approach to settling claims and have called for the 126-year-old law to be reviewed.
"The Riot Damages Act 1886 is crucial in providing financial compensation to victims of riots who do not have property insurance or are underinsured, but the current lack of a standard approach has caused unacceptable delays and confusion," said Aidan Kerr of the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
The 1886 Act covers damage to property only, so disruption to business service and related losses of income must still be covered by insurers themselves.
The antiquated Act defines a 'riot' as involving more than 12 people, "riotously and tumultuously assembled".
The ABI believes that the Act should be reformed to include a clearer definition of a riot, consistent with the sort of unrest that was coordinated online last summer. They would also like the claims procedure standardised and a time period set for notification of claims.
A Home Office spokesman told the Guardian that changes had already been made to streamline the law.
"Following the riots last summer the Home Office extended the application period to submit claims from 14 to 42 days and simplified the application procedure," they said in a statement.
"We are also in the process of reviewing the Riot Damages Act to ensure it protects the most vulnerable and provides value for money for the taxpayer," they added.