Is your building unoccupied?

01 July 2020 - Elizabeth Nichols

Earlier this year many insurers extended the period before a premises was classed as unoccupied to 90 days, following the UK government enforcing a lock down to control the spread of COVID-19. But now, as lockdown and travel restrictions ease and businesses begin to reopen, many insurers are amending their policies. We have outlined below some of the approaches taken by insurers, but it is important for you to take time to read the terms of your policy or contact your broker for more information about your specific property cover.
Premises still in government enforced lockdown – If you are still unable to open for business due to the government restrictions e.g. a nail salon or indoor gym, many insurers are further extending their unoccupancy restrictions. In many cases you don't need to inform your insurer or for an additional premium to be charged.
Premises where lockdown has been lifted, but you have chosen not to reopen the premises – If you are now able to open for business under government guidelines, but plan to keep your premises unoccupied, we encourage you to talk to your broker or insurer and inform them as soon as possible. It is likely that the normal unoccupancy conditions of the policy will apply, which means you will need to declare when the building or premises are unoccupied so that your insurers can assess the risk.
A number of insurers are asking building owners to ensure that their property is appropriately secured and protected, and we have outlined some of these common requests below:

  • To inspect the building, internally and externally at least once per week
  • Remove all refuse and waste materials from the premises
  • Secure the building and ensure all protective locks and alarms are activated
  • Where possible, switch off all gas and electricity at the mains, unless its electricity supply which supports an intruder, fire or security alarm and essential IT equipment

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