Update on Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Temporarily closed or unoccupied properties during COVID-19
1st September 2020
Guidance for managing temporarily closed or permanently unoccupied properties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK many organisations are implementing contingency plans such as home-working, skeleton staffing, social distancing and cleansing regimes to maintain operations.
However, for some organisations this is not possible, and following the latest government advice some workplaces will now temporarily shut down for a period of time.
Buildings, whether temporarily closed or permanently unoccupied can be at greater risk from the likes of arson, antisocial behaviour such as vandalism or squatters, theft, and escape of water.
During the months of the Covid lockdown, most insurers did not apply certain standard restrictions in policies for unoccupied properties. This extension to covers granted by insurers has generally come to an end. This means that buildings that still remain closed will now be treated in line with its normal approach to unoccupied buildings, which have reduced levels of cover. Clients should review their circumstances and contact us if premises remain unoccupied or indeed if they are unsure of any aspect of their insurance cover.
Top 5 priorities for temporarily closed properties
Temporarily closed properties - temporarily closed means premises temporarily closed solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the context of a temporary closure, here are the top priorities to help you keep your property safe.
1. Protect against electrical fires - turn off and unplug electrical equipment
Electrical equipment should be turned off and unplugged, and electrical systems isolated at the main fuse board, with the exception of critical business infrastructure required to allow the continuance of the organisation's operations and support temporary home working arrangements;
other fire suppression security or other risk protection systems or devices
which should be maintained to ensure they continue to fully and effectively protect the property at all times.
2. Guard against escape of water losses
Where there will be no need to re-enter the premises during the period of temporary closure turn off water supplies at the mains (and where reasonable to do so drain down water systems). We recognise it may not always be appropriate to turn off or drain down water systems. Where this is the case a minimum temperature of 7⁰C (45⁰F) should be maintained within the property.
3. Protect against arson
Remove internal waste and position external bins as far from the property as possible, ideally securing bins in place.
4. Inspect weekly
Unoccupied property should be inspected weekly, provided travel required to carry out inspections is in line with the latest government advice.
Where this is not possible at the present time the inspections should be reinstated once travel restrictions are lifted.
Any damage to the building or fitted security devices identified at the time of inspection should be rectified as soon as is reasonably possible.
You should also remove any accumulation of post from any letterbox during each inspection, along with any other action considered appropriate to minimise the risk the property can be easily identified as being temporarily closed.
5. Update risk assessments
Review and update risk assessments for the property to reflect the temporary closure, focusing on any additional precautions that might be necessary to secure the premises and protect people from danger.
We would also encourage you to continue to monitor and follow the latest government advice, as the situation is evolving rapidly.
Clarification on Business Interruption cover following the outbreak
March 17th 2020
Irrespective of whether or not the Government orders closure of a business, the vast majority of firms won’t have cover that will enable them to claim on their insurance to compensate for their business being closed by the Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Standard Business Interruption cover – the type the majority of businesses purchase – does not include forced closure by authorities as it is intended to respond to physical damage at the property which results in the business being unable to continue to trade.
A small number of business may have cover in place that will specifically provide for Business Interruption arising from notifiable diseases. However, this type of extension is not commonly included as standard and would usually only cover specified known diseases, often within a reasonable geographical area of the business. Standard Business Interruption insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks and are therefore unlikely to provide cover for the effects of global pandemics like Covid-19.
As always, we are here to give advice and will always check individual policies on your behalf
We know your business often depends on our ability to provide reliable, uninterrupted service so in light of the recent developments around Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we would like to share with you the measures we are taking to ensure service continuity.
Specifically we have made investments in our technology infrastructure to ensure we can operate all our business critical systems remotely to allow us to deliver a near normal service level. This will ensure we’re able to provide you with seamless service should any of our staff need to work remotely (e.g. due to self-isolation, school closures, etc.) or should we decide to close our office and/or switch to a remote working model.
We have tested our business continuity strategies and can confirm we can provide ‘business as usual’ should our entire workforce need to work remotely. In the event of this happening, we would operate as follows:
Staff would have full remote access to our systems.
Phones would divert calls, allowing continuous phone access to our teams and ensuring all skill groups would continue to work.
All tools for managing enquiries, quotes, new business, etc. would be accessed by our team remotely.
All technical staff will have the ability to access the service systems required to provide ongoing support to our clients remotely.
As always, we remain committed to supporting your business with an unparalleled level of service and will continue to monitor the situation, providing you with updates appropriately and promptly.
If you have any questions, please contact us on 0191 3830401