Heritage in lockdown: Ecclesiastical launches new guidance for temporarily closed and unoccupied heritage buildings

27 April 2020

Specialist insurer Ecclesiastical has published new guidance on managing risks and protecting temporarily closed and unoccupied heritage buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ecclesiastical has released new guidance which covers five key priorities to help people managing premises that are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The insurer has also made cover enhancements to support customers, ensuring there are no changes to premium and policy cover for premises forced to temporarily close. 

Buildings, whether temporarily closed or permanently unoccupied, can be at greater risk from the likes of arson, antisocial behaviour such as vandalism or squatters, theft, and escape of water.

The top five priorities covered by the guidance are: 

  1. Protect against electrical fires – turn off and unplug electrical equipment
  2. Guard against escape of water losses
  3. Protect against arson
  4. Inspections of the property
  5. Update risk assessments

The new guidance is available for heritage organisations to view for free on the Ecclesiastical website.
Faith Kitchen, heritage director at Ecclesiastical, said: “As a leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings in the UK, from castles and contemporary heritage and homes to cathedrals and churches, we're passionate about protecting Britain's heritage. We understand this is an uncertain and worrying time for all heritage organisations. 

We are committed to supporting the heritage sector and we hope this new guidance will help heritage organisations manage risks and protect their closed properties during this pandemic.

Taking simple steps such as turning off and unplugging electrical equipment and positioning external bins as far from the property as possible can help to protect closed and unoccupied buildings. It’s also important to not overshare on social media and people should be mindful of posting announcements that advertise buildings are vacant.” 

As well as extending cover for temporarily unoccupied premises, the insurer has also introduced an automatic extension in cover for 30 days beyond renewal to help protect businesses from becoming unintentionally uninsured.