Covid-19 Update: January 2021 A few questions answered by some of our insurers.

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With the ongoing disruption caused by Covid we understand that having certainty around your property insurance arranged through us is important to you. However, please note every insurance company is different.

We wanted to ensure what their view was regarding the following.

  • Electrical and Gas certification
  • Tenants claiming universal credit due to Covid-19
  • Unoccupied properties – inspections and unoccupancy conditions

We can confirm that they have responded and below are some details that we have received. However, each insurer is different, and this is only a panel of four, so you do need to check.

Electrical and Gas certification.

It is difficult during the government restrictions and rules regarding movement. Social distancing may not be possible if you are trying to arrange the above. Having an annual gas certificate and the electrical certifications are a requirement. The insurers will look at it if these haven’t been carried out as long as you have done the following.

  • The landlord has made every effort to have the inspection carried out.
  • Through no fault of their own this has been cancelled or delayed.
  • As soon as the restrictions on movement and social distancing are removed the client arranges it.
  • The above must be done within 30 days of the restriction being lifted.

This is not for all insurance companies and some will require you to carry it out. There is government guidance on how landlords should approach tenants when it comes to these items. We enclose it here.

Tenants claiming universal credit.

You may have a situation where your tenant now claims universal credit. This is due to their personal circumstances. It may be that Covid has meant that they have lost their job. The tenant may therefore classify differently from when you first took the policy out. You need to check with us whether this effect the premium. If the tenancy changes for any reason because they are claiming universal credit again you need to check with us. Every insurance company will look at this differently.

Unoccupied properties – inspections and unoccupancy conditions.

Again, these restrictions relate to movement and social distancing. You may not be able to inspect your unoccupied property. However, these policy conditions are quite stringent. It may be that it is against the public health and advice for you to do this.

Should a claim occur most insurance companies will deal with it as if the unoccupancy conditions had been carried out. However, a record of inspections having been kept up to date prior to restrictions. Not all insurance companies are the same and again you should do your best to make inspections if possible. You will see from the government guidance above it is a legitimate reason to leave your property.

Insurance companies appreciate that you may be unable to comply with the current inoccupancy conditions.

However, they would expect you to comply with the following.

Fire system – If the property has a fire system then it needs to be operational. It needs to be in force.

Fire doors – If the property has fire doors then it needs to be closed.

Electricity supply – This needs to be switched off at the mains. Unless, maintaining the heating or security of the property.

Heating systems – Turning off and draining down the system at the main supply. Maintaining the heating to a minimum of 15 degrees C to avoid burst pipe claims.

Physical security – All security at the property is fully operation and in force.

Intruder alarm – Where your policy has an alarm condition ensure this is fully operational and in force.

When the government restrictions have been lifted, they would expect inspections to take place. Unoccupancy conditions would be applicable. Ensure this is done within 14 days.  Carrying out all further inspections a relevant date.

All the insurance companies are different. For instance, Covea confirmed the following.

Unoccupied premises (existing business) Jan 2021.

This guidance applies to premises under existing commercial policies, including commercial or residential let policies. They have had to become temporary unoccupied due to Covid restrictions announced by the government.

Customers will not need to advise us of the temporary unoccupied status of the property. The existing level of cover will continue for a period of 90 executive days. Providing the following;

  • They complete an internal and external inspection of the premises at least once every 7 days.
  • Risk management guidance below is met in full, unless superseded.
  • Maintain written logs of inspections, including time and date of inspection.
  • Notifies us immediately of any unusual features, changes, defects or concerns regarding the premises. Especially any equipment, contents or of other property, regardless of any loss.

In addition, due to the current winter months they would also require the following.

  • Draining water systems and water tanks. Closing stopcock and valves. The water system inspected as part of the 7-day inspection requirements.
  • Leaving heating systems. With temperatures maintained at the minimum 11 degrees C.

After 90 days customers need to advise us of the occupancy status of the premises.

If a customer is unable to complete a facet of this guidance due to the government guidance of essential travelling due the period, that facet may be relaxed upon referral. It is the customers responsibility to take all reasonable endevis to follow the risk management guidance.

Customers will be required to inspect such premises when they are able to do so safely and maintain logs of the activities.

Where occupancy is not due to Covid-19, normal policy conditions apply.

For any queries covered by these statements you need to keep updated with the government guidance as outlined above.

Risk management guidance.

Waste – Remove all external waste. Pallets and empty skips before the closure of the premises.

Waste bins – Empty all waste bins and move to secure areas. These should be ideally at least 10 meters from the building. If this is not possible then they should have locked lids.

Fire systems – Ensure all fire and/or heating systems remain fully operational.

Fire doors – Check to ensure all internal fire doors are closed.

Building utilities – Turning all non-essential electrical devices and other utilities.

Inspections – Arrange for a weekly inspection of the building both internally and externally. Risk assess for any loan working issues. Comply with the existing government guidance regarding vulnerable people. If there is a lone worker then a risk assessment should take place. Consider the provisions for alternate skilled personal.

Physical security – Check that the physical security measures are in place and effective. Fences are in good repair. Locking windows. Shutters are in place. Locking gates.

Intruder alarm – Set intruder alarms and ensure that the remote signalling is in place. Make sure there is enough key holders. They should be available to respond to an activation within 20 minutes.

Maintenance – As soon as practical continue of essential maintenance. Complete any remedial measures. Continue to respond to all building management systems.

The above is for guidance for your properties. It is important that you understand your responsibilities especially when it comes to unoccupied properties. If you are unsure or have a property that is currently unoccupied and want a quote, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you.

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