The Coronavirus outbreak has completely upended the business community, with many SMEs forced to operate remotely while their shops and offices remain empty indefinitely. Never has it been so critical to have premises safely secured.

The tough shutdown measures, aimed at slowing the community spread of the virus, are anticipated to last for six months, or longer if warranted. Everything is up in the air at the moment. It will all come down to whether or not governments at state and federal levels think the outbreak is completely quelled.

Like you, we are an SME business. For the thousands of other SME owners out there, no matter what kind of business they own, the next few months will be fraught with anxiety. It’s already proving to be the most challenging period many of us have ever faced. On top of worrying about business cashflow, SMEs must also think about the security of their unoccupied premises.

So why is it important that premises are properly secured during prolonged shutdowns? Because the chances of breakin, vandalism or other malicious acts are often higher in such situations.

For example, if a property is unoccupied for an extended period it’s the insured’s duty to inform the insurer of the change, according to the duty of disclosure section in the Insurance Contracts Act.

However, you should be aware that insurers do provide full cover for empty premises over a stretch of 30 days before notification is required. A number of them also have policies that provide up to 100 days of cover depending on how the cover was set up.

Some insurers have also announced they will maintain full cover for SMEs during the enforced shutdown with no changes to premium, so please feel free to contact us to sort out your own particular circumstances.

We are only a call or an email away, and we can also look into what business protection you may need during this enforced shutdown. Every situation is subtly different.

In the meantime, there is a range of measures that you could undertake to protect your premises during this period.

Here is a general checklist you could consider:

• Waste: Remove all external waste, pallets and empty skips. Empty all waste bins and relocate to a secure area, ideally at least 10 metres from the building. If this is not possible and bins and skips are within 10 metres, they should have lockable lids.

• Fire systems: Ensure that any fire and/ or sprinkler systems are fully operational. Carry out a check to ensure that internal fire doors are closed.

• Utilities: Shut down any non-essential electrical devices and building utilities. Isolate nonessential services, gas valves etc

• Inspections: Where at all possible (and subject to government restrictions) try to implement periodic inspections of the building (internally and externally). Check to ensure physical security measures are in place – for example, that fences are in good repair, windows are locked, shutters are in place and gates are secured.

• Alarm: If you have an intruder alarm, make sure it’s set and that remote signalling is in place.

• Dangerous goods: If you have any dangerous goods on your premises, ensure they are kept secure in their usual storage place, and review the inventory levels, documentation etc.

And remember, you can call us anytime for advice and reassurance. These are strange times, and we’re here to help you through them.

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