Disastrous wedding mishaps have long been a comedy staple, probably because so many of us can relate. What bride- or groom-to-be hasn't had nightmares about hurricane-force winds blowing over the reception tent or a drunken cousin falling into the wedding cake?
Besides the potential for embarrassing memories, there's a lot of money at stake: According to WeddingStats.org, the average wedding in 2012 will cost nearly $27,000, not including the honeymoon -- about what you'd pay for a well-appointed new car.
Just as you wouldn't drive off the lot without car insurance, so you might want to consider buying wedding insurance, especially if you're planning events with lots of moving parts. Wedding insurance usually only costs a few hundred dollars but could save you tens of thousands if horrendous weather, sudden illness or a bankrupt vendor ruins your day.
Many insurance companies offer comprehensive wedding insurance, including Aon, Fireman's Fund and Traveler's. Typically, policies will reimburse you for deposits and charges you've paid to wedding vendors, as well as travel costs and other expenses incurred, if you need to cancel or postpone the wedding for a covered reason.
Coverage options, costs and limitations vary widely, so read the fine print carefully. When comparing policies, pay attention to deductibles, maximum coverage limits, exclusions and deadlines for purchasing various options. For example, with some policies the rehearsal dinner must be held within 48 hours of the wedding to be covered. Also, product availability varies by state, so be sure to buy the correct policy for the state where your ceremony will be held.
Probably the most important coverage to buy is personal liability insurance. Just as you're financially responsible if someone slips and falls in your home, so you could be sued if someone is injured at your wedding events. Many venues require liability insurance and either include it in the rental cost or require you to submit a certificate of insurance from your own policy. And don't forget liability insurance if you're hosting events at home.
Before buying additional liability coverage, check how much coverage your homeowner's insurance policy provides and whether it applies to wedding events -- you may need a special rider. Such coverage often tops out at $500,000 or less, so if you're hosting a large event ask your agent about buying additional coverage through an umbrella policy.
Make sure all major wedding suppliers (caterer, limousine service, etc.) maintain their own liability insurance. In addition, any venue providing alcoholic beverages should carry liquor liability insurance -- ask for a copy of their certificate of insurance before signing the contract. To play it safe, you may want to buy your own host liquor liability coverage as well.
- Extreme weather. If members of the wedding party or the majority of guests cannot reach the wedding -- or the venue is damaged -- because of severe weather conditions (e.g., major snowstorm, earthquake, hurricane), costs for rescheduling the event will be covered. Note: Gloomy skies or drizzle don't qualify.
- If a member of the wedding party or immediate family is seriously injured, becomes too ill to attend or dies suddenly, rescheduling costs will be covered. However, illness or injury caused by preexisting conditions may be excluded.
- If an essential vendor (caterer, florist or person conducting the ceremony) goes out of business or doesn't show up, you're covered for any deposits paid and possibly for the complete cost to reschedule the event, within your policy's limits.
- Some policies will pay to restage the wedding (including travel costs, cake and flowers, etc.) with the principal participants and immediate family members if the photographer fails to appear, botches the shots, or the negatives are lost, stolen or damaged; others may only pay an allowance toward reshoots.
- When a professionally-produced video is damaged, most policies will pay a certain amount toward creating a video montage of still photos and other wedding memorabilia.
- Gift coverage pays to repair or replace non-monetary gifts that are lost, stolen or damaged within a limited time period. A police report is usually required in cases of theft.
- Wedding attire coverage will pay to repair or replace the bridal gown, tuxedo and other special attire bought or rented for the bride, groom or attendants, when lost, stolen or damaged.
- Military absence coverage offers protection if the bride or groom is in the military and gets called up or shipped out to service.
- Honeymoon insurance protects against having to cancel your honeymoon due to illness, bad weather or other circumstances. Note: Lost luggage may be covered under your homeowner's insurance.
And finally, some insurers now provide "change of heart" coverage in case the bride or groom gets cold feet. If that's a real possibility, you should probably invest in premarital counseling before you start looking at cakes and bridesmaid dresses.
This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a legal, tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to you and about your individual financial situation.
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