Business and charity

Risk management for unoccupied commercial properties

Published: 14/02/2021

This information was true and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. Please visit the government website for further COVID-19 guidance.

With many organisations once again adjusting to remote-working conditions in light of the third COVID-19 lockdown, commercial premises across the country are sitting empty and susceptible to various unoccupied property risks – such as fire, theft and flooding.

Because of this, once your property becomes unoccupied it may also be considered a higher risk by insurers, and they may impose additional conditions for unoccupied buildings – this applies to your home as well as your business premises.

That’s why it’s important to carry out a risk assessment of your unoccupied commercial property - including checking the unoccupancy terms of your insurance policy - as this could prove vital in reducing the risk of property claims, and helping to keep your insurance premiums down.

In this guide we’ll explore what cover is provided for unoccupied commercial properties with Endsleigh, as well as provide some simple risk management tips to safeguard your unoccupied premises.


Does Endsleigh provide empty commercial property insurance?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've been in discussions with our business and charity insurers to ensure you have the continuous cover you need under ever-evolving circumstances.

The standard unoccupancy period for properties protected under a commercial or charity insurance policy with Endsleigh is usually between 30 and 60 days.

For some charity customers, this has automatically been extended to 90 days cover from the date the property became unoccupied, provided the customer is able to meet certain conditions to mitigate large property claims.

If your business or charity is currently insured through Endsleigh and your property has become unoccupied, please contact us to let us know, and so we can help you understand your insurer’s COVID-19 position.

Risk management for unoccupied commercial properties

Once you’ve confirmed your unoccupied property is covered, it’s important to have a commercial property risk management plan in place to safeguard your property while it’s empty. After all, who knows how long this could last?

Here are some simple ways to protect your commercial property from risks such as fire, theft and flood during lockdown.

Download the unoccupied property risk management infographic!

1. Take out the rubbish

Remove all external waste, pallets and empty skips before closure of the premises. Empty all waste bins and move them to a secure area, ideally at least 10 metres from the building to reduce property damage on windy days. If this isn’t possible, have a look into bins with lockable lids.

It might also be worth checking the staff fridge for any old lunches or milk bottles still lurking to prevent an unwelcome surprise when everyone returns to the office!

2. Test and set the alarm systems

Ensure all fire and/or sprinkler systems remain fully operational, and check to ensure that internal fire doors are closed. Set intruder alarms and ensure that the remote signalling is in place. Make sure there are a sufficient number of key holders available to respond to an activation within 20 minutes.

3. Hide or remove valuable items

Where possible, any high value goods should be removed from display and securely hidden away. You should also remove all money from site, including money in the safe.

Before moving any stock or money, you should check the terms of your commercial insurance policy to check what cover is provided for Goods / Money In Transit.

4. Check for any last minute maintenance

Before locking up for a few months, check that physical security measures are in place and effective.

For example, make sure fences are fit for purpose and in good repair, gates and windows are locked and shutters are in place.

You should also ensure all non-essential electrical devices and building utilities are turned off.

As long as it’s practical, continue essential maintenance and complete any remedial measures, as well as respond to all Building Management Systems alerts.

5. Arrange a weekly inspection

Where safe to do so within government guidelines, arrange a weekly inspection of the building (internally and externally).

Risk assess for any lone working issues and ensure your organisation complies with existing government guidance regarding vulnerable people and lone worker risk assessments.

Top tip: Prevent a post pile-up by either redirecting your organisation’s mail or arranging for someone to pick it up regularly. A build-up of packages can be both a fire hazard, and indicate to opportunistic burglars that the property is empty.

6. Update your Business Continuity Plan

Make sure your Business Continuity Plan is up-to-date to ensure your core services can continue to run efficiently, even under remote-working conditions.

Read more: Does my organisation need a business continuity plan?


Business and charity insurance with Endsleigh

Having an insurance partner who understands your needs is essential in finding the right cover. With thousands of commercial partners across the UK and over 30 years’ experience for providing insurance for the commercial, charity and voluntary sectors, our team of experts are dedicated to finding the right cover for your organisation.

Read more about business insurance and get a quote. Read more about charity insurance and get a quote.

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