Is my business covered if it is left unoccupied during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK, the Government has implemented new guidelines and restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus. The main message is to stay at home and only leave for essential reasons. If you or a family member show any signs of coronavirus, the household should immediately self-isolate for 7 – 14 days. To underline the importance of staying at home, the Government has temporarily closed non-essential businesses in a bid to stop people interacting and risk the further spread of COVID-19. This has meant many businesses have had to cease trading and close their doors for the foreseeable future.

These closures mean a number of business premises are unoccupied, which can create risks for potential break-ins, vandalism and property damage. You may also be finding it difficult to check on your premises, especially if you are having to self-isolate due to illness.

When it comes to protecting your business, did you know that many cover providers will not cover your premises if they are left unoccupied and unattended for a long period of time? As if being unable to trade wasn’t stressful enough, this will be a major concern for many retailers who have been forced to close.

To ease some of the worry and stress, we have made some provisional amendments to our cover for The Retail Mutual Members who are prevented from operating their business or attending their premises due the Government restrictions on trading, social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine.

Unoccupied premises – provisional amendments

These new conditions only take effect if you are having to close your business due to Government guidelines or because you are having to self-isolate.

The Retail Mutual undertakes that:

  • While your business is closed or inaccessible as a result of Government restrictions or requirements, any exclusions or restrictions relating to empty properties shall not apply and you will have full cover in place. You are not required to notify The Retail Mutual if a building or property is going to be left unoccupied due to social distancing, self-isolation and Government restrictions
  • You are not required to visit their premises every 7 days as stated in the cover wording, but you should try to visit at your earliest opportunity
  • The Retail Mutual will not charge you any additional contributions for leaving your business unattended
  • You do not need to remove any combustible materials which are stock items

What you are required to do

We do require you to do take the following actions to make sure that your cover remains valid:

  • You must lock all doors, windows, fanlights and skylights, and remove the keys from the premises and keep them in a safe place when the premises are empty
  • If you or someone connected with you lives at the property, while the business is closed the keys should be removed and put in a secure place in the part of the property where that person lives
  • Do not leave keys in locks at any time
  • Make sure you lock away any cash at the premises in a cash-rated safe and remove the keys
  • Leave all till drawers open and empty

Further actions you can implement to reduce risks

  • Make sure the security alarm, fire alarm and sprinkler systems are switched on and fully working at all times
  • Check all other mains systems are switched off, and if there is no sprinkler system, the water system is drained
  • If there are any outstanding defects in security or maintenance, repair or resolve the issue
  • Seal the letterbox to stop people putting flammable materials or general rubbish through

We hope these new changes will help to give you peace of mind and keep your business protected during these unprecedented times. If you have any questions, please get in touch with The Retail Mutual where our team will be happy to help.