A story caught my eye in the Manchester Evening News the other day where a disused furniture store in Little Underbank, Stockport had inadvertently collapsed, crushing a neighbour’s car. This got me to thinking about the implications with regard to unoccupied property insurance.
It is understood that the owner of the car, a BMW 330 worth about £5,000, described it as his pride and joy, after he had bought it three years ago with some money left to him by his late grandmother. It emerged that he was lucky not to be injured as he had just changed his mind about going out in it when he heard an almighty rumbling sound which he described as ‘like an earthquake’. Upon looking out of his window he saw his car, written off under a load of rubble from the collapsed building.
Apparently the building had been unoccupied for up to eight years before its demise, and had been derelict for some time to the point where it had a tree growing through the roof. The car owner was quoted as saying at the time “There’s actually a bench right outside and there are always students or mums with their kids there. I’m convinced if it had happened two or three hours earlier there would have been a casualty or even a death.”
So where would this leave the owner of the building from an insurance / legal standpoint? Well, bearing in mind that unoccupied property insurance almost always only incorporates ‘FLEE’ cover (fire, lightning, earthquake and explosion), there is every possibility that no cover would be in force for damage to third party property. In fact even if a full cover policy was in force, it could be construed that the owner had not taken reasonable precautions to prevent damage caused by dilapidation of the building, so in the event that someone had been injured it could have been very costly for the owner indeed.
Also, according to the Manchester Evening News, the BMW owner and several other neighbours had previously complained to the local council about their concerns as to the safety of the building. I am sadly not legally trained, but I should imagine that the apportioning of blame in the event of such an occurrence could have got very messy, as the council surely have the power to enforce any measures necessary to make a building safe to the public. Nobody at Stockport Council Building Control was available for comment on this strangely enough!
You can get yourself some competitive unoccupied property insurance here at CompareCrazy, but remember you must always fulfil your obligations under the terms of any insurance policy to ensure you’re fully covered. CompareCrazy.com. The business insurance comparison site!