A commercial building could be temporarily vacant for a variety of reasons, such as waiting for a new renter or renovations. Just because your building is unoccupied doesn’t mean it should be left neglected. Whether you are undergoing a scheduled vacancy or are facing a temporary, unprecedented shutdown, follow these precautions to help prevent a loss from occurring and reduce the risk exposure for your commercial space.
Determine how facilities will be inspected and maintained during the vacancy period
Identify who will be responsible, what needs to be included in the inspection process, how the inspections will be tracked and monitored, and how any concerns or problems will be addressed.
Prepare your building and property for severe weather
Weather can quickly ruin an unoccupied property both on the interior and exterior, regardless of season or condition. It’s essential to follow safety measures as protection, like setting the building’s thermostat to a minimum of 55 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing during colder months. In warmer months, set the air conditioning to a minimum of 85 degrees, which should help prevent humidity and mold. Also, make sure all doors, windows and other openings are secured to avoid wind, rain or any other type of weather from entering and causing damage. Consider installing water and temperature sensors that link to your phone. These sensors can notify you of any concern before it becomes a major issue. This is especially helpful during times when you are visiting your property less frequently.
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Ensure routine physical inspections and maintenance
It is important to schedule three or more routine visits per week to assure there are no signs of vandalism and that the building is in sound condition from all servicing equipment. When you resume business, if you avoided routine maintenance, you could risk additional damage to your property, which could delay a return to business. Key maintenance tasks include checking your lighting system, fire safety equipment, domestic water systems, heating and cooling systems, access controls and exterior walls and accessories. It’s also important that all sprinkler systems and/or alarms remain activated and in proper working order. An easy way to keep track is by creating a facility maintenance checklist. Any maintenance that is performed habitually, for example, getting a roof inspection twice annually, should continue if your commercial space becomes vacant. In summary, conducting routine maintenance and inspections can help protect against undetected failures and the resulting damage.
Invest in heightened building security
Having a security system for a commercial property is essential, whether vacant or occupied. However, given that unoccupied buildings are more susceptible to break-ins and vandalism, it is appropriate to invest in a reliable and heightened security system that fits the need of the business depending on the value of the building and its contents. Security measures could include cameras, alarm systems, special lighting or even patrol guards. Many of the current, available security systems send an immediate alert if there is an intruder. This allows you to quickly contact authorities.
Notify police of any suspicious activity
While inspecting your commercial property, if you come across anything suspicious, like broken locks, shattered windows or disconnected security equipment, contact your local police department immediately.
Whether your commercial building is currently vacant or you are aware of an upcoming vacancy, make sure to give your local independent agent a call to to ensure you are covered and that you are taking the necessary steps to mitigate risk.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. If the insurance policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies. For full details on Integrity’s business insurance coverages and discounts, contact your local, independent Integrity insurance agent.