Unoccupied buildings

If your place of worship becomes unoccupied, you must immediately contact your insurance provider.

Reduced cover may apply, and additional terms and requirements will be added to your policy. This will vary depending on your circumstances; more specific details will be given once notification has been received.

Damage prevention

Unoccupied places of worship become vulnerable to damage. There is a greater risk of theft, malicious damage, fire and water damage as well as squatters breaking in.

You can take some simple steps to help prevent this damage by ensuring that the building continues to be well maintained and secure.

  • Consider the location - is the building isolated or secluded?
  • What is the crime level in the area?
  • Would any neighbours be willing to check the property regularly?
  • You may need to consider additional precautions if you feel there are increased hazards.

The following actions should always be taken:

  • Continue to maintain the property. If a property appears unsupervised or empty it is more likely to attract unwanted attention. Maintain the grounds and repair any damage that occurs without delay. Ensure the perimeter fences and gates remain secure.
  • Inspect the property at least once a week and watch out for any signs of damage or vandalism. Repair any damage immediately.
  • Broken windows should be repaired to prevent additional damage caused by water ingress or further damage caused by vandals. You could consider boarding up windows with timber or removable steel mesh screens.
  • Remove unwanted items from the property, especially rubbish or any combustible material.
  • Redirect post, seal up the letter box or remove post regularly.
  • Use security lights and timer lights if appropriate.
  • Remove ladders and tools from any outbuildings as they could be used to access the building.
  • Maintain the security alarm if there is one in place. Temporary alarms designed specifically for empty buildings are available at a modest cost.
  • Drain down all water; turn off the gas and electricity supply unless they are required for security or heating.

In addition to preventing damage to the property you need to reduce the risk of injury to third parties. It is important to check whether there are any broken or weak walls, piles of rubble, rubbish or glass or any protruding nails or jagged edges. You will also need to consider the potential risk of any objects falling from roofs or other overhead structures and how easy it is to access any roofs.

If it comes to your attention that you do have an issue with squatters, or unauthorised access to the premises – seek legal advice as soon as possible.