Most standard house insurance, contents insurance, office insurance, or shop insurance policies are designed for occupied properties. Whether the occupant happens to be a homeowner or a tenant. It can be a small business (in case of commercial property). Insuring unoccupied commercial buildings is a lot more complicated. Empty properties are classed as non-standard and thus need a specialist insurance policy.
The reason a standard insurance policy won’t cut the mustard is because commercial premises are treated as a high insurance risk. This might be because their insurance claims data suggests that claims can be higher. Empty buildings have a higher risk of water damage, rising damp, vandalism, burglary, or squatters. But whatever the reason for it. If your property is going to be vacant for an extended period (more than 30 days) you will need to take out a policy. You will need to ensure that you invest in a policy that covers you for all risk. No matter if this is due to renovation works or the end of the tenancy.
Why are vacant properties hard to insure?
Empty properties have a higher risk of water ingress. They can also have damp, mould, and rising damp. They can even fire damage because they are left unattended for extended periods of time.
Squatters are much more likely to target an empty commercial property. Offices or shops particularly if they have been vacant for a long time. Empty properties are more likely to experience vandalism than occupied properties. Most of the time, they also represent an easier target for thieves. Since there is much less chance of a burglar to be caught in the act.
All those increased risks translate to high insurance premiums. You need to take this into account when dealing with unoccupied property cover. Insurance providers will consider. They have an increased likelihood that they might have a claim.
Insurance for unoccupied commercial buildings is extremely difficult. This is because it is arranged differently compared to standard commercial insurance. We can provide you with this insurance. We have panel of insurers who specialise in this industry. However, many insurance companies do not like to insure the properties. They represent a high risk. Insurers are reluctant to provide cover. Premiums can often be higher compared to other building types. We can still insurance these for you. Please note that cover can also be restrictive. We have all types of policies that can cover you.
Should I take professional advice on how to protect my unoccupied commercial property?
You will find that most insurance companies will require some form of security protection at the property. Especially considering that squatters cannot reside in residential properties. An insurance company may request 24-hour security, wired fencing and even surveillance cameras. It is important to drain down the water systems and turn them off. Also, make sure that there are no valuable contents within the property itself. It may be that the insurer requires boarding up of the windows as well.
Do I need to look at the security of my property?
Yes, we would suggest that you, first of all, do a risk assessment of the property. This is to see if there are any potential points of entry. Someone might try to break in. Seek local advice from the police. See whether there is anything you could do for your empty property and see our guides below. We would suggest that you secure the perimeter to deter people from entering the property. Also, you can look at installing closed-circuit TV and alarms.
You will often find that CCTV is a must have for anyone looking to protect a commercial property. It will go a long way to potentially reducing the buildings insurance risk which improves the insurance premium. You should then ensure that any important equipment at the property is either removed or secured. It would also make sense to advertise the security on the outside of the building. This would potential criminals knows they are being watched. We would suggest that you also carry out regular checks or have somebody carry these out for you.
The more security measures that you put in place the more likely your premium will come down. It is essential to show your insurance company that you are doing your best to protect your investment.
Can I take out a policy for a short or long period?
Yes, you can take out a policy for any length of period as long as the Insurance Company are willing to offer it. The levels of cover can be quite restrictive and premiums extremely high, but we are able to offer cover.
Tips for managing your unoccupied property.
We have put some tips together to managing your unoccupied commercial property. This should assist you in obtaining a wider choice of quality insurance covers. It will also make your premiums competitive.
- Take all reasonable precautions in securing your empty property. It will depend on the property type, location, size. It also depends on the period of inoccupancy, but the following should be considered.
- Main fed alarms – You cannot run the risk of the batteries running out.
- Manned guarding – Ensure that they hold an SIA Licence.
- Random visits at various times are a good deterrent.
- Security screens or boarding.
- Perimeter protection – Check your local planning department. Some temporary structures may require planning applications.
- Physical security – Make sure the windows and locks are in operation. There are bars and shutters. There are also grills on the doors and windows.
- Non-setting paint (also known as anti-vandal paint) – They can also be anti-climb paint.
- Lighting – Concentrate on lighting areas such as external doorways. Especially around the windows where intruders might gain access.
Check you are covered for occupy liability insurance.
Under 1957 and 1984 occupier’s liability Act you can be held liable for injury to trespassers. Even if they are on your property. You need to ensure that there are intruder prevention measures. We have highlighted some of these above. However, they would also include warning signs. Warning signs should be displayed at all likely points of access. This might include for instance fragile roof. A warning sign or an asbestos do not enter warning sign.
Check the property regularly and keep a log of your visits.
All insurers will want to see you visit the property every week. Keep a log of your visits and take a picture on your camera that is date stamped. You can then show this to the insurance company that you are pro-active. This is ensuring your property is looked after.
Seal up letter boxes.
Many claims arise because of arson. This happens when there is an accumulation of post build up. This can often happen behind the door and lead to rapid ignition and spread of fire.
Drain water tanks.
Make sure pipes are empty, cracking in cold weather. Minimize the risk of result of water damage. Especially with pipes or tanks.
Remove all refuge or combustible materials.
Speak to your neighbours.
Where a property is overlooked by occupied properties or homes. Intruders will often try to gain access under the disguise of being a contractor. Let your neighbours know that you have arranged for a contractor visit. They can be your best eyes. Try not to advertise that the property is vacant. Build up of post can be a sign. An unkept entrance. Make sure the grass is cut. Make sure graffiti is removed.
We have various products that could help you in this regard so do not hesitate to contact us. We can be contacted on 01273 827090.
Unoccupied commercial property insurance is extremely difficult to obtain. We do have markets that will help you cover your property but terms can be restrictive and premiums high. It is important that you do your best to ensure that security professionals check your property. This is to ensure that you are doing the best you can to protect it. If you would like a quote for an unoccupied property insurance request a call back and speak to one of our team.