With rising wedding costs and planning timelines of a year (or more) before the big day, the risk of unexpected or last-minute nuptial mishaps is increasingly present and ever more costly. The wedding dress, the centerpiece of many a bridal fantasy, is no exception. Protecting that investment – an average of $1,357 is now spent on the gown – from the “say yes to the dress” moment to the walk down the aisle can provide welcome peace of mind for emotionally and financially invested couples and their families.

Check Your Existing Coverage

Before purchasing any wedding-specific coverage for your nuptial attire, check your homeowners or renter's insurance policy. Items such as wedding wear, along with gifts and liability, may fall under your existing policy. Speak with your insurance agent about coverage specifics and review the language of your policy to become familiar with any special rules or procedures you need to follow to qualify for a claim. You don’t want to lose your opportunity for coverage due to a failure to follow terms.

If you used a credit card to purchase your wedding dress, tuxedo or other attire, you will have the added protection of the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, which affords you the right to dispute billing errors and fight back against vendors, potentially recovering losses should something go wrong.

While helpful in providing an additional safeguard, relying on your credit card alone for the protection of your wedding attire, particularly when purchasing or making deposits far in advance, is not necessarily fail-safe.

Insuring Your Dress – And More

You can insure your gown under a broader wedding-insurance policy that covers photos, gifts, rings, deposits and other nuptial essentials, as well as a variety of potential wedding-related incidents, such as a vendor going out of business or delays due to sickness or injury of an essential member of the festivities. In short, wedding insurance is a tool to protect a couple’s investment in their big day from circumstances beyond their control. Disasters involving the gown are no exception.

This type of insurance is available through the Wedding Protector Plan from Travelers Insurance, the WedSure Plan from the Fireman’s Fund and WedSafe Wedding Insurance offered through Affinity Insurance Services Inc.

What's Covered?

Wedding-dress coverage varies, depending on the provider and policy, but typically, wedding insurance covers loss, theft or damage to the bridal gown as well as to other attire specific to the big day.

Circumstances beyond the control of the couple are reimbursable – for example, if the shop fails to deliver the dress, the seamstress ruins the alterations or the tux is torn or lost on the plane.

However, most plans do not cover “changes of heart,” i.e. wedding cancelation costs due to the bride and/or groom deciding not to get married. The one exception is WedSure, which only covers party funders who are not the bride and groom – and only if the cancelation is made more than 365 days before the first covered event.

Buying Wedding Insurance

You can purchase wedding insurance at just about any point in the wedding-planning process. The Travelers Wedding Protector Plan, for example, covers deposits made prior to purchasing the insurance as long as receipts are available and no impending or existing claims are present when you buy the insurance.

When estimating the coverage you need for your attire, consider the cost of your gown, veil and all other bridal-party wear. Typically, there is a specified maximum amount that can be claimed under each coverage section of a wedding plan – in this case, attire – and it ranges depending on the provider and policy.

A deductible may or may not apply; the Wedding Protector Plan, for example, doesn’t have deductibles. If you have a claim, covered losses are paid from the first dollar up to the applicable limit. Just be sure you understand the details of the specific insurance plan you intend to purchase and keep records of receipts and any other relevant paperwork in the event that you need to file a claim.

Basic policies for weddings usually cost between $150 and $550. Considering the cost of the average wedding today – over $30,000 – the price of protection is not a high one to pay.

The Bottom Line

If you’re making sizeable purchases and/or deposits on wedding wear far out from the big day – increasingly the custom – it's smart to look into your insurance coverage options. You may find your existing coverage through other policies sufficient, but if not, a wedding-insurance plan can fill in the gaps and provide valuable peace of mind.

For more, see The Hidden Cost Of Wedding Insurance and How To Plan An Affordable Summer Wedding.

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