With business premises left unoccupied whilst people are working from home, it is important that you familiarise yourself with any policy terms and conditions that are likely to apply in all relevant policies.
These will almost certainly include an Unoccupancy conditions clause which will state that once a property has become vacant or unoccupied for a fixed period of time (usually more than 30 consecutive days) additional risk management requirements* and/or restrictions in cover may apply.
In recent weeks insurers have been setting out how these conditions may alter when a premises has become temporarily unoccupied due to Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Government. This may include an extension to the consecutive number of days stated in the policy, together with changes to other terms & conditions. It is recommended that you contact your insurance advisor to discuss these to ensure that cover remains in force.
*Risk Management requirements may include:
- Risk Management Guidance – Remove all external waste, pallets and empty skips before closure of the premises
- Waste bins – Empty all waste bins and move to a secure area (ideally at least 10 metres from the building and/or in bins with lockable lids
- Fire Systems – Ensure all fire alarm and/or sprinkler systems remain fully operational
- Fire Doors – Check to ensure that internal fire doors are closed
- Intruder Alarm – Set intruder alarms and ensure that the remote signalling / monitoring is in place. Make sure there are sufficient number of key holders available to respond to an activation within a reasonable time period
- Physical Security – Check that physical security measures are in place and effective. For example, fences are fit for purpose and in good repair, windows are locked, shutters are in place, gates are locked
- Utilities – Ensure all non-essential electrical devices and building utilities are turned off (but maintain minimum temperatures to prevent freezing)
- Inspections – Arrange for a weekly inspection of the building (internally and externally), risk assess for any lone working issues. Comply with existing government guidance regarding vulnerable people and lone worker risk assessments. Consider the provisioning for alternative skilled personnel
- Maintenance – As long as it is practical, continue essential maintenance and complete any remedial measures. Continue to respond to all Building Management Systems (BMS) alerts
However, the above must only be undertaken in line with the current guidance issued by the UK government.
It is also recommended that the business maintain a log of any such activity.