Ah, summer weddings, which means it’s also the season for losing nonrefundable deposits with venues, caterers, photographers, and florists in the event bad weather or other disasters force a change in plans. The amount at risk can be substantial – in 2010, the average wedding cost $24,000, according to a survey by The Wedding Channel and The Knot.com.
Enter wedding cancellation insurance, which is designed to protect against financial loss from unavoidable cancellation or postponement of the big day. The protection covers losses caused by damage, theft, or loss of event photographs and video, special gifts, attire, and special jewelry, as well as nonrefundable deposits paid to vendors in advance.
How much does wedding insurance cost?
Wedding cancellation insurance premiums are based on the cost of the wedding. For instance, Aon Affinity’s WedSafe policy for a wedding costing $7,500 runs $130 and for a $50,000 event, the premium is $350. For the typical wedding budgeted at $25,000, Aon Affinity charges a one-time premium of $235.
What is and isn’t covered
A typical claim might involve cancellation or postponement of nuptials caused by severe weather or unexpected illness. Other circumstances that might be covered include the unexpected withdrawal of military leave granted to a key person in the wedding, bankruptcy of a vendor like the caterer, fire damage to a venue, and other situations beyond your control.
What cancellation insurance doesn’t cover is anything that is under the policyholder’s control — such as changing his or her mind — or anything else known in advance. “If your venue has gone bankrupt already, you can’t go out and buy insurance after the fact,” says Steven Lauro, Vice President for Aon Affinity in Jericho, N.Y. “That’s fairly obvious.”
It might not be so obvious what kinds of weather are covered. “If it’s just drizzling on your wedding day and you decide to cancel it, that’s not extreme weather like a hurricane that closes the roads,” Lauro says.
Other types of protection
Cancellation insurance isn’t the only kind of insurance many weddings require. Venues that aren’t typical hosts for events, such as parks and museums, often require wedding planners to purchase liability insurance that will protect the venue against property damage and claims from guests or others who might be injured in connection with the event.
For liability insurance, there are two main factors controlling the cost. One is the amount of coverage and the other is whether or not alcohol will be served. For $1,000,000 worth of liability and property damage coverage without alcohol, the one-time premium is $100. With alcohol, it’s $175.
Where to purchase wedding insurance
Wedding insurance is easy to buy online. “Most people learn about it from venues or from wedding planners,” Lauro says. The product has long been sold in the United Kingdom, but has only been available in the United States since 1999. “It’s still growing in awareness.”
The policies usually require no underwriting. All a purchaser has to do is enter his or her information and credit card number and the policy will instantly be in force. Sometimes, venues will have specific requirements for liability or property damage that require some customization of a policy and underwriting, perhaps involving a different premium.
“When weddings are planned to some overseas locations, the risks may be different and premiums may vary,” Lauro says. Likewise, since each individual state regulates all insurance products, there may be differences in coverage and cost, depending on the state of residence or where the wedding is being held.
When a wedding is postponed, as opposed to being cancelled, that is also likely to add costs. If nothing else, weddings are getting more costly over time. According to the latest survey from The Wedding Channel and The Knot.com, in 2011 the average ceremony cost $27,000.
Mark Henricks is a writer for Money Talks News, a consumer/personal finance TV news feature that airs in about 80 cities as well as around the Web. This column first appeared in Money Talks News.