Empty premises during lockdown

The UK Government announced the current lockdown in England from 5 November to Wednesday 2 December temporarily replacing the local tier regulations.

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Scotland, Wales have different regionalised approaches. 

Therefore, a variety of non-essential businesses (such as retailers or leisure businesses) will be required to close or to further extend their current closure causing a (hopefully) short-term increase in unoccupied buildings. Most standard insurance policies have empty buildings definitions and it is vital that business owners check their cover if the closure regulations apply to them and whether there is a need to notify insurers that the building is empty. Not all insurers work in the same way and it should not be assumed that everything will be alright and there is no need to notify them “because they will know anyway”. Don’t take a chance on a claim being rejected for non- disclosure!

Additional risk management requirements may be needed. But there is a warning that in some cases, businesses will have had enforced closures prior to the national lockdown and so temporary flexibilities allowed by insurers may already have been exceeded prior to the expiry of the current lockdown period and for the sake of a quick email or phone call, tell your insurer or broker NOW. This will enable consideration to be given as to the need for  any additional requirements to protect property. Remember that contractors, including locksmiths and other security specialists can continue to operate and will provide suitable cost-effective advice. Knightsure have many recommended partners for security, heating or electrical advice – so ask us if in doubt!

Previously closed Buildings that have been open for at least seven consecutive working days are not likely to be considered as empty if they are subsequently closed due to government lockdown and a new period of grace will usually be provided. Businesses which are partially open such as a restaurant providing take-ways should not be considered as empty.

It’s often the case that additional premiums are charged to reflect the increased risk of an empty building, but most UK insurers won’t apply any additional premium for customers who have buildings which are closed solely due to government lockdown. 

However, where buildings are empty for reasons unrelated to government lockdowns or were already vacant, the standard empty buildings approach will likely continue to apply. when a building is empty, insurers normally require:

  1. Internal and external inspections at least once per week either by a policyholder or their agent. 
  2. Rubbish, waste and any mail is regularly removed from the building. 
  3. The building is fully secured using all existing security, setting any alarms and activating CCTV 
  4. Ensure that gas and electricity supplies are turned-off at the mains – other than electricity for alarms or to run computer servers etc whilst working from home
  5. Any empty building or empty part of the building has its water supply isolated at the mains. 

If for any reason it’s impractical to carry out these precautions we’d recommend that you contact your Broker or insurer for alternative advice 

Should the lockdown exceed the proposed period insurers will review their approaches. 

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