Empty properties come with an insurance health warning
As we’ve been hearing in the news, many retail and commercial units now stand empty as the aftermath of the recession bites. In Nottingham, almost 30% of its shops are vacant, compared to 22% in Leicester and 20% in Derby. Lincoln and Northampton are also battling with the problem, which has led to a proliferation of pound shops as a result. But aside from the economic challenges that an empty shop presents to these towns and cities, what about the increased risk that any unoccupied property poses to its owner?
Bryan Banbury, Managing Director of independent insurance broking and risk managing firm Russell Scanlan, says: “Most business and residential insurance policies have a restriction in cover which applies once a property has been empty for 30 days or more. Be aware that the same restriction can also apply if you’re moving house or business premises, and the property you’re moving from or to will be empty for a period. Either way, if specific steps aren’t taken, and a problem arises such as theft damage or a burst pipe, then you could find yourself in a tricky situation.
“Understand the details of your current arrangements, and talk to your broker or insurer. Make sure they know exactly when your premises becomes unoccupied and get advice on the steps you can take to make sure your cover doesn’t lapse. You may be advised, for example, to turn off the water supply, drain down the system, and make sure someone regularly inspects the building during the time it’s empty – particularly during the cold winter months. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the issue, as it’s more than likely you’ll be able to come to some temporary agreement that gives you peace of mind in the interim.”
Bryan has seen and heard it all! As an insurance specialist for one of the region’s oldest heritage insurance brokers (established in Nottingham in 1881, expanding into Leicester in 2009, with clients across the region and UK), he has a wealth of best advice and anecdotes to impart to business, home and property owners.