INSURING YOUR VACANT PROPERTY – KNOW THE RISKS Written by Lisa Hutchings on 3/2/2015 10:00 AM . It has 1 Comments. Is your Property Vacant? Is it adequately protected? Do you know how your insurance policy will respond? Property ownership is a big investment of time and money. For that reason, it is important to ensure your property is protected from all potential losses. You may have to leave your building unoccupied due to the loss of a tenant, severe weather damage or to complete a renovation. Vacant property faces an increased risk when it comes to potential damage. Whether the vacancy will be for just a few days or for several months, updating your insurance policy and following a few simple steps to protect your property is extremely important. It is important that you advise your broker of the vacancy and that you establish a plan to keep your premises secure and protected from a potential loss as best as you can. Securing your Building: Make the property appear occupied: Cut the grass, maintain snow removal, install exterior automated lights and maintain some interior lighting at night. This helps to deter malicious activity such as thieves and vandals from targeting your property. Change the locks between tenants to prevent previous tenants from re-entering your property. Install a monitored security system and ensure there's an effective response plan in place. Heat and Water Management: During the winter season, the risk of water damage to your vacant property increases substantially. The cold weather could cause pipes to freeze and burst. There are a few simple measures you can take to reduce the risks associated with water damage. If you have a fire sprinkler system and hot water heating, the building's interior temperature should remain above the freezing point at all times. If you cannot maintain the heat and your property is vacant during the cold months, turn off the water supply system and drain the hot and cold water supply lines. During the heating season, fill any plumbing traps with an antifreeze product to prevent freezing and damage. If there is any water left in the toilet tanks, antifreeze can be added to them as well. This will ensure the water won't freeze and crack the drain pipes or fixtures, should your heating system fail. Additional Steps to Reduce Risk: Educate your tenants about the risks of leaving the property vacant and encourage them to keep you informed of their travel plans. Inspect the property regularly to ensure the heating system is functioning and that there has been no damage from water, weather, thieves or vandals. Insurance policies offer limited coverage for vacant properties due to the increased risk of potential damage. Policy conditions vary widely with reduced cover starting on the first day of the vacancy. Typically, once a certain period of vacancy has been reached (often 30 days) the policy will become void and there is no coverage in place. Speak with your Account Manager about upcoming vacancies, so they can help ensure your investment is protected. They can outline your coverage and arrange for a vacancy permit, to ensure your property will remain covered.