On Monday 4 January the UK Government announced a further national lockdown in England, commencing immediately for an unspecified time period, which sits alongside similar further tightening of rules and regulations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Further to our previous updates, if you have a commercial property insurance policy, in most cases it is unlikely to offer full cover once the building has been unoccupied for 30 days.

Different insurers insist on different requirements and you should refer to your policy wording for the exact requirements defined by your insurer.

This is potentially a greater issue than under previous lockdowns due to:

  • The mixture of the original national lockdowns, regional / local lockdowns and the English UK tiered system mean that many (if not most) affected businesses will have already been closed and therefore have either reached the 30 day limit or will be approaching it.
  • The move into the coldest part of the year when “freezes” and bad weather significantly increase the risk of damage to property.

Most commercial property insurance policies have unoccupancy conditions and the following information is to help prevent you from a policy breach. If your premises are vacant, you should ensure:

  • The building is inspected internally and externally at least once per week.
  • That refuse, waste and any mail is regularly removed from the building.
  • The building is fully secured using all protective locking devices available, setting any alarms and activating any CCTV available.
  • Ensure that gas and electricity supplies are turned off at the mains – except any electricity required to maintain essential building services, alarms or to run computer servers etc. whilst working from home.
  • Any empty building or empty part of the building has its water supply isolated at the mains (except for fire sprinkler systems). For extended empty periods that water and heating systems are fully drained-down – this is particularly important during this time of year.

Most commercial buildings insurance policies cease to offer full cover once the building has been unoccupied for 30 days.

As a GPS client, if your commercial building is unoccupied for longer than 30 days, you should inform us as soon as possible, and in good time before the 30 day limit is reached, to ensure your cover is not compromised.