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Vacant Property Concerns Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19, Property & Casualty, Trending Topics

While most business owners are now familiar with the myriad risks COVID-19 presents to their business, the changing seasons have brought to light another exposure to consider: buildings sitting vacant for stretches of time. Your vacant property has a unique set of associated risks, especially as we head into winter.

The risks associated with a vacant building are two-fold.

The first piece to consider is the clear physical risk to your building. When a building sits vacant, risks such as vandalism, theft, freezing & bursting pipes, and roof collapse become more pronounced. These issues can be mitigated with proper risk management techniques and by taking proper precautions.

Relevant techniques include, but are not limited to:

  • Implementing water-sensing alarm systems
  • Notifying local authorities of vacated properties so they can watch for criminal activity
  • Making sure the property is free from significant hazards (broken railings or windows, etc.) that could cause potential injury to anyone on the premise
  • Keeping a maintenance schedule that requires someone to visit and inspect the building at certain intervals

The other risk is the potential restriction of coverage in your property insurance policy. Most commercial property policies contain a “vacancy clause” that may restrict coverage if a building is left “vacant” as defined by your insurance policy. Oftentimes, exclusions for specified perils such as water damage or vandalism are triggered if a certain percentage of your location is not occupied for a specified period of time.

Contact your M3 Account Executive and Risk Management Team to discuss how best to protect your property and make sure you don’t jeopardize your insurance coverage.

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