Is your building unoccupied or vacant?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing state of emergency mandates, social distancing and self-isolation. As a result, many buildings are unoccupied or vacant.


An update on unoccupied and vacant building coverage


Please contact your Account Executive if your building or buildings will be vacant or unoccupied for longer than 30 days as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. We will then be able to approach your insurer and advise them in writing to ensure coverage is not compromised.


The majority of insurance policies allow for 30 days vacancy before your insurance company must be notified. Once notified, the insurance company will either provide approval that coverage remains as is or the policy must be revised to include what is commonly referred to as “Vacancy Permit”.


As a guide, we are using March 15th as the date when many businesses began closing. It is also important to note that many insurance companies are taking a much different approach to one another. This means there are varying definitions and interpretations of vacancy. For example, insurance companies may have different interpretations for No Weekly operations vs. Completely Vacant meaning all equipment and inventory has been removed.


How can I learn more?


We are working closely with all our clients and insurance company partners to understand how coverage is impacted during these unprecedented times. We will continue to advocate on behalf of our clients and will share information we feel is relevant and timely.


Click here to view the Securing Vacant Unoccupied Buildings Checklist from Sovereign Insurance


If your location is closed, you should also consider the following measures:


  • Site Security – check perimeter fences and gates are in good state of repair and operational
  • External lighting – check lighting and any associated movement sensors are operational
  • Building Physical Security – check window and door locks plus any security shutters are operational. The use of external key safes should not be used
  • Access Control – check to ensure operational and maintained
  • CCTV – check to ensure operational and maintained including recording and any remote monitoring
  • Intruder Alarm – check to ensure fully operational and maintained including offsite remote monitoring. Reduction in Police response or keyholder availability to be advised to AXA XL
  • Where possible maintain a core staff on site that could respond to an emergency
  • Automatic Sprinkler protection should remain fully operational and maintained. Weekly testing should continue with guidance sought as to whether this can still be supported whilst adhering to social distancing. Ensure building heat is maintained at a safe level to prevent damage to sprinkler and process piping
  • Automatic Fire Alarm – check to ensure the system is fully operational and maintained including offsite remote monitoring
  • Fire doors – ensure all internal fire doors and shutters are closed
  • Inspections – where possible arrangements should be made for a weekly internal and external site inspection with guidance sought as to whether this can be supported whilst adhering to social distancing
  • Waste – internal and external waste to be removed from site and external storage located a minimum of 10 m from the building
  • Utilities (electrical, water, heating) – where practical, shutdown and isolate / drain any non-essential utility services that are not required for operational reasons, maintaining minimum temperatures to prevent freezing or power circuits for protection
  • Follow the proper procedures to execute safe and proper shut down of equipment and machinery
  • Eliminate all controllable sources of ignition such as hot work or smoking
  • Ensure the intranet is completely isolated from the public network or the firewall is impenetrable.  There should be no cyber risk during the idle period.  Ensure that the UPS is functional