RIGHT BESIDE YOU
Wedding insurance covers you during mishaps
Vicky Katz Whitaker
Creators News Service
You've bought that expensive gown, plunked down thousands of dollars in deposits to the caterer, photographer and florist -- and now a hurricane is about to harpoon your outdoor wedding reception. Even worse, the best man can't find your wedding rings and the band is a no-show.
Next to the groom getting cold feet, it may be the scariest scenario a bride-to-be can face -- unless she has wedding insurance. With premiums as low as $95, wedding insurance is affordable and a bargain compared with an average $21,814 that a couple, or their parents, may ante up to pay for today's wedding, according to the Wedding Report.
And as for that reluctant groom or runaway bride ruining your wedding day? There's insurance coverage for that, too.
"Not too long ago, wedding parties were on their own in case of events like bad weather, problems with vendors that are late, no shows, or disruptive to the ceremony, issues with a venue, damage to the wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses or tuxedos," observed Dan Weedin, a Washington insurance and risk management consultant. "Now there is a solution to protect their investment, which nowadays can be sizeable."
In England, where wedding insurance made its debut in the late 1980s, half of all weddings are now insured, said Alan Tuvin, vice-president of product management for Traveler's Insurance which, with fellow insurance industry giants Fireman's Fund and Aon's wedsafe.com, do business in the United States and Canada. Wedding insurance spread to the United States in the 1990s.
Wedding insurance is simple to purchase. You can select the type of coverage you want from a smorgasbord of options ranging from extreme weather and a damaged tent to an overbooked DJ. The final price you'll pay depends on the options you choose, whether it's insuring wedding gifts from theft or damage or paying for professional counseling if that derailed wedding makes you suffer severe emotional stress.
With just a few keystrokes, you can look at your options, get a quote and even pay for a wedding insurance policy online. There's also the traditional route: contacting your local insurance broker or letting your wedding planner handle most of the legwork.
When looking for a reason to pick up a policy, you may not need to look further than the current economy. More than 40 percent of all its wedding insurance claims for the past two years involved unforeseen problems with vendors and venues, some of which went bankrupt in the worsening economy.
"The vendor bankruptcies that we have seen are exactly why couples and their parents should consider the Wedding Protector Plan," said Tuvin. Travelers' policy starts at $160 and can reimburse the policy holder for such things as ruined attire, lost deposits, lost rings, severe weather, transportation shutdowns, ruined photos, stolen gifts and injury.
Most insurers require a waiting period to purchase such policies. Travelers, for example, has a cut-off of two weeks prior to the wedding date. Wedsafe.com requires purchase at least 24 hours before the date, but you'll need to pay with a major credit card if you cut it closer than a month from that walk down the aisle. The minimum fee is $130. The base fee for Fireman's Fund's Weddingsurance starts at $95 and must be purchased at least 12 hours in advance online through an independent agent or through its program administrator, www.rvnuccio.com.
Fireman's Fund is the only one of the three that offers "change of heart" insurance that, under certain circumstances, allows the person financing the wedding to be reimbursed for expenses if it is cancelled. Most policies cover cancellation because of death, illness or serious injury, says the Insurance Information Institute.
The Institute recommends that before purchasing wedding insurance, you should find out:
* If the insurance company is licensed to do business in your state.
* How much the policy will cost.
* How much reimbursement you can expect if a loss occurs.
* What specifically is and is not covered by the policy.
* Whether you have coverage elsewhere through credit cards, warrantees, home, auto or liability or other insurance policies you may already have.