As England enters what has now been termed Lockdown 2.0 our thoughts again turn to the need for ‘non-essential’ businesses to shut their doors.
Whilst we appreciate the many concerns to business owners at this time, when businesses close their doors leaving their premises unoccupied there are also insurance concerns to be addressed.
Will vape shops have to close during lockdown?
We know that the IBVTA have been lobbying government to have vape shops classed as essential businesses and to have dedicated vape shops remain open during lockdown periods. At the time of writing no positive decision has been reached.
The lockdown rules state that non-essential retail shops must shut during lockdown so at the current time this does apply to vape shops. Click and collect and delivery services can continue.
The best place to keep an eye on the outcomes of the IBVTA discussions with government is on the IBVTA twitter account where regular updates are being posted.
Why does it matter if my vape shop is unoccupied?
To an insurer, unoccupied premises present different risks than premises which are occupied.
Risks that unoccupied premises present include:
- An easier target for vandals
- Higher risk of arson
- Higher risk of breaking and entering and subsequent theft
- Flood from internal issues can go unnoticed and cause additional damage
For these reasons, insurance policies such as commercial property building insurance will typically set a maximum number of consecutive days that a property can be left unoccupied for. In many cases this is set at 30 days (do check your policy wording for the exact limits that apply for your particular policy though).
As the current lockdown is at present set to last for 4 weeks (until the 2nd December) if you have had to shut your premises beforehand then this could see you exceed the 30-day limit.
Exceeding limits set by insurance policies such as this can see your insurance invalidated if you haven’t informed or discussed with your insurer beforehand.
What should you do if your vape shop will be unoccupied during lockdown?
Our advice would be to check with your insurance broker or your insurer directly to check what their stance is on unoccupied premises during this period of lockdown.
During the first period of lockdown we saw many insurers extend or be flexible with their limits around the number of days premises could be left unoccupied.
Some insurers have maintained extended unoccupancy periods in response to the ongoing uncertainty the pandemic is creating for businesses. Whilst other insurers have returned to their normal unoccupied property stance since the initial national lockdown ended.
We suggest checking the exact stance your insurer is taking either directly with your insurer or with your insurance broker to ensure you have clarity over your insurance situation.
One of the insurers that we work with, Folgate Insurance, have confirmed that whilst unoccupied limits will be extended to 90 days during this lockdown period, clients are expected to maintain all security devices and to make weekly inspections of their properties, both internally and externally.
We are keeping in touch with other insurers and will update this blog as and when we receive any other specific information regarding unoccupied premises.
Practical steps you can take at this time to protect your unoccupied premises include:
- Taking your time to shut your business – make sure all doors and windows are locked. That all non-essential supplies to your building (gas, water, electricity etc) are switched off.
- Remove items of value from the premises before you leave, or if this isn’t possible, place them out of site
- Check on your premises on a regular basis. Most insurers insist this is weekly.
- Consider the time of year. As we move into winter and the weather gets colder the risk of frozen and burst pipes increases so take action to mitigate this risk
- Complying with the risks management strategies set out by your insurer for unoccupied buildings
We at Anthony Jones appreciate what a difficult time this is for business owners. To all of our vape insurance policy holders we would like to reassure you that we are here for you. If you have any questions about your insurance or risk management at this time do not hesitate to get in contact with us on 0208 290 9080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.