HM Insights

Coronavirus: ensure unoccupied commercial property remains insured

Many landlords will have experience of re-letting commercial properties and be conscious that, due to the increased risk of break in, vandalism or arson, insurers apply special conditions and endorsements for the continuation of cover.

As well as the basics of robust gates, fences, locks and shutters, insurers will often stipulate that insurance cover is dependent upon regular inspections and, where appropriate, monitored CCTV, fire and burglar alarm systems.

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What is the definition of an 'unoccupied' property?

Generally speaking, many UK insurers define a commercial property as being "unoccupied" if it is empty or not being fully utilised for business purposes for a continuous period of 30 days. Some insurers were quick to recognise that the 30-day clock started for a vast number of properties locked down on 23 March and so have extended the period to 60 days for those properties.

Owners and occupiers should not, however, assume that the insurance policies in place for their own properties reflect the same arrangements. You should check your own insurance policy documents and any updates or policy amendments which have been sent to you or made available by e-mail or on a website, or make enquiries of your insurance company or broker to establish the precise requirements.

At the same time, it is prudent to assess whether your properties have security features which comply with the current requirements of the relevant insurance company and whether they would still comply if the properties move into the 'unoccupied' category of the relevant insurance company due to the passage of time.

Insurers are aware of the limitations upon owners/occupiers during the lockdown period and many have contact details of their pre-approved security companies, locksmiths etc to carry out inspections or other security measures.

Get in touch - we're here to help

We are happy to assist you in assessing the relevant policy provisions or, if you do not have these to hand, we will endeavour to secure these from your insurance company or broker and confirm the current arrangements.

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