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Commercial Property Insurance

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Do you really need Commercial Property Insurance?

If you are the owner of business premises – regardless of whether you run a retail, manufacturing or logistics outfit, or your company is mainly office-based – it makes sense to take out commercial property insurance. Why? Well, could you really afford to pay for part of your premises to be rebuilt, the stock to be replaced and, at the same time, suffer the loss of several month’s income? No, we thought not!

These days it is easier than ever to get just about every possible commercial building nightmare scenario covered, thanks to a number of companies offering full commercial property insurance packages. And that’s just as well, considering how vulnerable Brexit negotiations are making the UK business community. Nothing seems certain these days, but if you take out insurance on your commercial property then at least you have the comfort of knowing that if anything does go wrong with the building, you and your company are going to be just dandy.

Meanwhile, even if you don’t run a company from your premises but are merely the landlord and renting the building out to another business, then you still need to arrange for commercial property insurance. Not only will this cover those tenants, but nine times out of 10 you’ll find it will be a condition of the mortgage too.

Interestingly, insurance companies consider commercial tenants more of a risk than if the owner were using the building. That’s because there’s more of a chance that the building won’t be looked after as well by the former i.e. a leak could be left for a while before it’s reported, by which time a lot more damage will have occurred.

Types of commercial property insurance

  • Buildings insurance. This type of policy covers you for repairs to the building in the event of, for instance, burst pipes, flooding, an electrical fault, smoke damage, extensive fire damage, subsidence, impact, vandalism or theft i.e. broken windows/door etc. You can even cover against earthquake damage (although admittedly, that’s not a big issue here in the UK).
  • Contents insurance. For landlords, this can cover fixtures and fittings, such as gates, signs, landscaping, cables, pipes as well as internal fixtures and fittings such as carpets, blinds and skirting boards. Stock and machinery etc inside the building is regarded as the tenant’s responsibility.
  • Public liability insurance. If anyone, other than an employee, injures themselves on your business premises then this will cover the cost of a compensation claim, as well any legal expenses relating to it. It’s usually up to around £1 million.
  • Employer’s liability insurance. If any of your employees (or a volunteer/intern working with you) are injured on your business premises, or suffer from an illness caused by their work then you could be forced to pay compensation, including loss of wages. Legally, the employer’s liability insurance must be worth at least £5 million.
  • Landlord liability insurance. If a tenant (other than a member of the public or an employee) injures themselves – or has their property damaged – in your building because, for instance, the ceiling is in danger of coming in, then you could be liable as a landlord. It’s advisable to get cover for at least £1 million.
  • Business interruption. If prevented from continuing with your business due to your premises being uninhabitable then this type of policy can tide you over financially for a few months or so until you get the business ship-shape again.
  • Loss of rent cover. If you’re acting as a commercial landlord and the company you are renting to goes bust, then with this type of cover you’ll still have an income while you look for another business to take over the premises.

Tips on getting the best value commercial property insurance

  • Always shop around for the quote that best suits your own business needs.
  • It’s often less expensive to have a combined policy i.e. buildings and contents with cover for business interruption.
  • If you have more than one business then make a saving by putting them all under the one commercial property insurance policy.
  • Some companies who provide contents insurance for the stock will increase the value for the amount of stock covered during Christmas, example, when you’ll expect to be holding more if you’re a retail business. Some insurance companies won’t though and many companies have discovered they are under-insured – much to their cost.
  • Have your excess as high as you can afford in order to ensure monthly premiums are lower.
  • Pay all of your insurance off in one go rather than with monthly payments.
  • The better the quality of your building’s security system, then the less you will have to pay in insurance premiums

Commercial property insurance FAQs

Q – I don’t have a mortgage so, do I still require commercial buildings insurance?

A – Legally you don’t but it does make sense to take it out in order to protect yourself from anything going wrong with the building in the future. It will also protect you from a claim by either an employee or member of the public who injured themselves in your building if your policy includes liability insurance.

Q – I haven’t actually started in business yet so shall I wait some time before going ahead and getting insurance?

A – No, get insurance before you even start in business. It would be terrible luck, but things can go wrong, even within your first week.

Q – Does my insurance company need to know that I’m no longer in the premises and have let them to another business?

A – Most definitely. And you will need to change your commercial property insurance to one for landlords. Do this ASAP.

Q – My warehouse is going to be unoccupied for a few months while I set up my business in newer premises in a more convenient location. Will this affect my insurance?

A – Yes, definitely. Most insurance companies refuse to insure premises which have been empty for at least a month. It’s because they are more subject to vandalism, break-ins and arson attacks. You will have to take out special unoccupied building insurance, which will be higher than standard commercial building insurance.