The unrest has affected many parts of the capital, including Ealing, Hackney, Croydon, Tottenham and Enfield. Riots have also taken place in areas of Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

The hoards of looting youths who ran amok in the streets left behind them a trail of fire, broken glass and general destruction.

Many of the worst affected are shop owners and those with small businesses.

However, victims of the violence also include families and individuals, many of whom have also seen their homes and cars burnt or damaged by rioters.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: "It's hard to imagine a more upsetting situation than seeing your car or home destroyed in the current scenes of disturbance. “

As the clear up begins, we offer advice for those needing to make insurance claims relating to the riots – and provide valuable information for anyone worried about further violence erupting in other parts of the country.

Will my home insurance policy cover me for damage caused by rioters?

Most home insurance policies should include cover for fire, looting or damage as a result of riots such as those seen on the streets of London and other cities over the last few days.

Many policies will also pay out for alternative accommodation costs if you cannot stay in your own home because it is so badly damaged.

AA insurance, for example, covers riot and civil commotion as standard in all its home insurance policies.

Mr Douglas said: "At a time when you're facing such a distressing situation, at least the financial loss will be covered even if insurance doesn't cover the inconvenience and grief of seeing your property destroyed."

The best advice if you are affected by riots or street violence of this kind is therefore to contact your home insurer as quickly as possible – especially as some companies will refuse riot damage claims not made within the first seven days.

Don’t throw away any damaged items as the insurance company is likely to want to see them. Take photographs of damage too and see if you have any receipts for goods which may need replacing.

Steve Foulsham, technical services manager at the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, said: “The majority of insurance providers operate a 24 hour claims line and can help people arrange for emergency repairs and the damage to be inspected as quickly as possible.”

Not all providers impose a time limit in which claims must be submitted, but it is still advisable to alert your insurer as soon as you can.

A spokesman for Co-Operative Insurance said: “We would like to reassure customers that we do not have a restriction on the claim notification period of our home and motor policies. As always, we would encourage those who need to claim to notify us within a reasonable time frame.”

You can compare home insurance quotes from more than 70 companies using our home insurance comparison tool.

What if my car is burnt or damaged by rioters – am I covered?

If you have comprehensive car insurance, the accidental damage section of your policy will cover your car if it is damaged or written off as a result of rioting.

If, however, you only have third party cover, you are likely to have to shoulder the loss yourself.

Either way, it is once again worth contacting your insurer as soon as possible after the event to find out exactly what you can claim.

You can compare car insurance quotes from more than 100 companies using our car insurance comparison tool.

I am a small business owner. Will my insurance cover me against events of this kind?

Commercial insurance policies will normally cover businesses for damage of this kind, including the financial loss due to the lack of business activity as a result. 

Some policies will also cover those businesses which are not directly damaged, but whose trade is affected by the aftermath.

You can compare business insurance quotes using our comparison tool.

What if I’m concerned about further violence?

Make sure your business or property is as secure as possible.

Check the media for updates and dig out any insurance documents to make sure your household and motor cover is up to date.

Follow police advice and if you are advised to evacuate the area, then you should do so as quickly as possible.

Never take matters into your own hands – your personal safety is the most important thing.