Unoccupied charity premises – contact your insurers or landlord

Article date
26 March 2020
Primary interest
Voluntary sector

In line with government guidelines, many of us are now working from home. If your charity or community group has a lease or owns a building, the premises will now most likely be unoccupied. If this is the case, then you should take the following steps to ensure that your building and contents insurance is still valid in the unfortunate circumstances that you may need to make a claim:

  1. Please check your insurance policy, does it require you to notify your insurance provider if your premises are unoccupied? (If the buildings insurance is in your landlord’s name with a provision that you reimburse the landlord, please refer to your landlord.)
  2. The terms of the insurance policy may specify that there are certain conditions that you must fulfil, such as ensuring that the premises are adequately secure, water supply has been switched off from the mains, electrical items have been switched off, that the premises alarm has been switched on and other conditions. These can be quite detailed and specific and this could have been quite easily missed in all that has been required of charities to do in the last couple of weeks.
  3. Complete a simple risk assessment or list of actions that you have taken, by whom and when, in order to, as much as possible, comply with the requirements of your insurance policy for unoccupied business premises.
  4. Read this guidance from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), who are the overarching body, under the section ‘How are insurers supporting unoccupied premises where businesses are temporarily closed’ it states that as long as organisations “have taken appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of damage to the property whilst unoccupied, insurers will be flexible…”
  5. Once you have done the above, contact the insurer (or ask your landlord to if the insurance is in their name), preferably in writing so you have a record of your communications. Refer them to the ABI guidance and let them know how you have taken all appropriate possible actions to mitigate the risk. Refer them to the current government guidelines around ‘stay at home’ . Ask them to confirm in writing that this is sufficient to ensure the insurance policy is still valid.
  6. Hopefully you will receive a positive response from your insurance provider (or your landlord will), however if this is not the case, please seek further support or advice through the contacts below. Please ensure that you do act and not leave this matter unattended, as there is a risk of being uninsured.
    • Contact the Financial Conduct Authority, who have prepared a statement on Coronavirus and support for consumers.
    • Contact advice@rva.org.uk for further support.