Unoccupied Premises: Stay Secure
Almost all business insurance contracts exclude damages to properties located on premises of the insured that are, under their knowledge, vacant, unoccupied or closed for more than 30 consecutive days.
The reason for this exclusion is understandable; no longer occupying the premises poses a significant risk for the insurer. Say, for example, a pipe bursts within the first days of closure. Water could be leaking everywhere, for days, causing significant damage without anyone intervening simply because there is no one there. If this were to happen during open season, the damage could be dealt with swiftly and damages could be kept at a minimal extent.
For this reason, if your business must be closed, unoccupied or vacant for 30 consecutive days or more, it’s important to advise your broker immediately, who will then take it upon themselves to go over your contract and propose intermittent solutions.
In most cases, it is possible to include an amendment to your insurance policy that will reduce or eliminate the effects of this exclusion.
This amendment generally includes several conditions during the vacancy of the premises. You would have to appoint someone that you can trust to visit the site at least once a week, and to keep a record of their visits. In some cases, the insurer could also require that a fire and intrusion alarm be installed on the premises, connected to a monitoring system that could operate; the deductible in case of a loss be increased; the heating system is maintained at a minimum temperature; that the road and/or parking lot surrounding the premises is regularly cleared of snow; that the outside lights are always on after dark, etc.
Better Safe than Sorry
Certain preventative measures could reduce the risk of an accident, and thus, reducing your insurance costs. It is highly advised to store any goods that could be susceptible to robbery stored safely off the premises, such as computer equipment, certain tools and of course, money.
It is also advisable to clear your windows of any objects. Not only will this reduce the temptation of a break-in, but it also makes it easy to get a clear view of what is going on inside the premises. In this sense, it is important to keep some lights on permanently inside the building.
If your premises are not heated, several precautions can apply to you; make sure to remove the water from all of your pipes. Your equipment that could get damaged by snow, ice, or weather conditions in general should all be properly stored indoors.
Your Broker is your Best Ally
Ready to store your inventory and head into your winter operations? Do not forget: your insurance broker is your partner, during all seasons, and is available to plan your protections, ensure adequate guarantees in accordance with your needs, and to ease your mind. Do not hesitate to contact them for further guidance.