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Economic downturns lead to increases in vacant properties. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the national vacancy rate exploded in the years that followed the onset of the mortgage crisis and 2008 recession. The number of vacant commercial and residential properties has grown dramatically over the last few years, with over 14 million vacant homes in the U.S. as of June 2012—a 2 million increase from 2006—and commercial office and industrial vacancy rates exceeding 20% in some metropolitan areas.

The fast and severe onset of the downturn, which followed a building boom, created a vacancy landscape much different than that to which insurers had become accustomed. “It’s no longer just run-down properties that are vacant,” explained Roxanne Logan, P&C Underwriting Manager, Special Risk Division, Burns & Wilcox. “Today it’s often new construction—well maintained buildings, but empty.”

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