13 Jul 2016

Wedding Day Blues

wedding cake

You’ve planned and planned for your special day so everything would be just right. On average, the cost of wedding festivities, clothing, travel and photography is about $26,000.

But then the day comes and it’s a disaster. Your reception venue is flooded and your out-of-town guests and your photographer are stuck halfway across the country because the airport is closed, due to a hurricane.

But fear not. A wedding disaster can be fixed – at least financially – if you have prepared in advance.

It’s called wedding insurance. And while it can’t fix everything (or cold feet before you reach the altar – more on that later), it can provide financial protection and reimbursement for expenses incurred if you have to cancel or postpone a wedding due to weather, death, illness, injury or military service. It can also provide remuneration for vendor negligence, lost or damaged gifts, missing or ruined gowns, or even help with professional counseling for emotional stress.

“No one likes to think about the bad side of a wedding,” said Kyle Brown, director of the Bridal Association of America.

But weddings (and other special events) are human events, where things can and do go wrong, despite best-laid plans.

“Wedding insurance simply helps make sure every possible risk is covered,” said Robin Price, president, Allen Tate Insurance.

For instance, family illnesses or unexpected deaths of immediate family members and ceremony officiates can change the festive mood in a heartbeat. If the bride or groom (or both) are in the military, wedding insurance can help cover loss of deposits and expenses of rescheduling if they are called up for duty.

And how about the photographer who fails to show up on time – or the DJ who double-booked and doesn’t show up at all? Or the flowers that somehow were forgotten by the florist or delivered to another ceremony?

While the wedding business exceeds $60 billion in the U.S. alone, it’s not unheard of for a baker, caterer, bridal shop or even wedding venue to go out of business – after they have been contracted for an event.

Rings get lost, formal dresses are the victims of disastrous alterations and wedding cakes have been known to slide off the platform during delivery. Crystal gifts get broken and wedding guests can break furniture (and themselves) after too much celebrating.

Sometimes, stuff just happens.

While the Bridal Association estimates that just 1 percent of all weddings opt for insurance, the cost is minimal – somewhere between $150 and $500, depending on coverage level, according to Travelers, who offers the Wedding Protector Plan. Generally, it covers deposits and purchases if circumstances beyond your control cause you to cancel or postpone your wedding. A general liability policy – which adds another level of protection – runs about $200.

What’s not covered? Hurricanes – yes, rainy day – no. Wedding bands – yes, engagement rings and other fine jewelry – no. Bad photography – maybe, if it was caused by faulty equipment or improper processing. Destination or cruise ship weddings – yes, honeymoon – maybe, but you might need travel insurance for that.

What if you simply change your mind? A few years ago, “Change of Heart” insurance became popular among couples who weren’t sure they would make it to the altar. Today, just one company offers such a policy. And there’s a catch – the wedding must be cancelled 365 days or more prior to the first covered event, and someone other than the bride or groom must be footing the bill to get a reimbursement.

And let it be said that there is no policy currently available to insure against divorce (except maybe a pre-nuptial agreement.)

“In some cases, wedding vendors and venues have their own insurance in place that will cover you in the event of some kind of mishap where they are at fault. So it’s important to know what coverages are in place, so you don’t duplicate coverage where you don’t need it,” said Price.

If you want your wedding day to be perfect (and who doesn’t?), wedding insurance might just be the one little splurge that’s worth adding. It never hurts to pop the question to your insurance agent.

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