21st April 2020
COVID-19 and property insurance

COVID-19 has forced millions of businesses across the UK to close, leaving their premises standing empty. Meanwhile, many individuals and families have upped sticks and temporarily moved in with friends and relatives, meaning that an increased number of residential properties are also currently vacant. Amid the heightened stress and anxiety caused by the lockdown, it’s understandable that people might forget to check their policy wording to see whether they will still be covered (and if so, for how long) if they leave their premises or homes unoccupied.

Small businesses face losing cover

Most commercial insurance policies only continue to offer full cover for unoccupied properties for 30 days. Despite insurers saying they will be ‘flexible’ about this rule, closed businesses will still have to comply with a series of additional requirements in order to retain their cover, which may (but not necessarily) include regularly visiting the property, sealing up letterboxes, turning off the gas and electricity, and removing refuse. Some policies will have different requirements, or possibly none at all.

It’s therefore important for businesses to carefully check their policy wording, and for insurers to clearly convey whether there are any requirements businesses need to comply with in order to stay covered.

Homeowners forced to leave their properties empty

As coronavirus restrictions tightened, many people across the country decided to go and stay with their family, friends and partners until lockdown measures were lifted, in order to help take care of the vulnerable and to be with their loved ones. Because regular residential property insurance policies will only usually cover a vacant home for 30 days, homeowners could also find themselves without cover, depending on the length of the lockdown.

Due to these circumstances beyond homeowners’ control, the FCA has released guidance for insurance firms on how to treat policyholders during this time. It urges them to be flexible and considerate of customers’ needs, and expects insurers to clearly communicate any exclusions that may impact their cover.

Could Unoccupied Property insurance be the answer?

On the other hand, there is no knowing how long the UK’s lockdown period could last. With the death toll still rising and lockdown recently extended for another three weeks at least, it is unlikely that the measures will be lifted any time soon.

Those facing leaving their premises unoccupied for a potentially lengthy period may wish to consider taking out short-term Unoccupied Property insurance to ensure they are covered until restrictions are lifted. Unoccupied Property insurance is usually considered a higher risk prospect than traditional Occupied Property cover, meaning that these cases can be more difficult to place.

That’s where Focus can help. We have arrangements with leading Insurers allowing us to offer Unoccupied Property cover for both commercial and residential premises, including short-term policies. If you have any enquiries regarding this blog or would like help with business you are finding it difficult to place, please contact us at or call us on 0345 345 0777.