The Hidden Costs Of Wedding Insurance

Countless hours of planning and thousands of dollars go into the preparations for any wedding. Wouldn't it be nice if you could protect against unforeseen events that might derail your plans? Wedding insurance can help you fall back asleep at night after you wake up from a nightmare about your wedding venue being destroyed by a tornado, and it can cover the money you've lost and help you put your wedding back together if your nightmares become reality.

What Wedding Insurance Covers
Wedding insurance covers the money you would normally lose from the cancellation or postponement of your wedding due to unforeseen events. If a key vendor goes out of business before your wedding or if your immediate family or wedding attendants suddenly can't make it to your event, the insurance policy will cover the costs associated with canceling or rescheduling your wedding.
Covered perils vary slightly by insurer. Some policies are all-inclusive. Others are basic and allow you to add optional items at additional cost. Your policy may cover event photography and videography, wedding gifts, wedding attire, special jewelry, lost deposits to your vendors or venue, transportation costs, and rented property. Some policies provide optional coverage for the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner if they will occur within 48 hours of the wedding.

You can also purchase wedding liability insurance for property damage and for personal injuries to third parties. With liability insurance, you can add liquor liability coverage to protect you, your fiancé and your immediate family against being sued for certain alcohol-related accidents caused by your guests.

What Wedding Insurance Does Not Cover
Even if you buy the most comprehensive policy available, you won't get coverage for certain events.

Wedding insurance won't pay to reschedule your wedding because of a rainy day. It only covers severe or catastrophic weather events such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and ice storms. This is only if you purchase the policy far enough in advance.

The policy's special attire coverage does not extend to watches, jewelry, gems or pearls, even if they are attached to clothing. You'll need to purchase separate coverage to insure the possible loss of the diamond earrings and necklace you'll wear. Poor quality photos aren't covered. Only lost or destroyed photos are, so choose your photographer carefully. If your video is destroyed, but your wedding photos are fine, the loss of your video may not be covered.

Accidental breakage of fragile gifts isn't covered, so keep the kids away from the gift table. Most policies don't cover a change of heart. If you or the groom decide not to get married, any money you've already spent on the wedding will be lost. Things that have already gone wrong before you purchased the policy are not covered. Insurance is supposed to cover unexpected losses, not certain losses.

Make sure to read your policy so you know exactly what is and isn't covered. The declarations page will contain the details and coverages specific to your event. The rest of the policy will be a boilerplate document describing the policy's coverage and limitations. You can ask to see a copy of this document before you purchase a policy. Some companies even make it available on their websites.

The Cost of Wedding Insurance
When you apply for wedding insurance, you'll be asked for your state of residence, maximum number of guests, event date, and information about the ceremony and reception venues. Coverage and cost varies by state because insurance is regulated at the state level. Some policies have a deductible.

You can purchase a policy as far in advance as two years and as close to the wedding date 24 hours. However, this depends on the insurer. Here is an example of policy pricing in New York state for a wedding in the fall of 2012.

Aon's least expensive WedSafe policy would cost $130 and provides $7,500 in wedding cancellation/postponement coverage and no liability coverage. Adding half a million (the smallest amount available) in liability coverage drives up the price to $239. The most expensive policy, including $2 million in liability coverage, costs roughly $943 and provides $175,000 in cancellation/postponement coverage.

Travelers' least expensive Wedding Protector Plan would cost $160 and provides $7,500 in wedding cancellation/postponement coverage and no liability coverage. Adding $1 million (the smallest amount available) in liability coverage with $25,000 coverage for property damage brings the price up to $325. Liquor liability insurance is an additional $65. The most expensive policy, including $1 million in liability coverage with $1 million in property damage, costs $1,290 (including the $65 for liquor coverage) and provides $175,000 in cancellation/postponement coverage.

Fireman's Fund's Wedsure policy is trickier to price because you must choose from nine types of a la carte coverage for personal liability, cancellation/postponement, gifts, jewelry, loss of deposits, photographs and video, professional counseling, rented property, and special attire. For each item, you have to write in a dollar amount for how much coverage you want. The least expensive policy with coverage comparable to that offered by Aon or Travelers' costs about $152. Adding basic personal liability brings the cost to around $214. The most expensive policy with coverage comparable to that offered by Aon or Travelers' costs nearly $1,104.

Most policies are fast and easy to buy online, or you can call an agent for more complex or higher coverage policies. There are no refunds on wedding insurance premiums, so you can't change your mind once you've bought the policy.

Do You Really Need Wedding Insurance?
Some of the items covered by wedding insurance might already be covered under your renter's or homeowner's insurance. Specifically, stolen items and personal liability might be covered, but be aware that the policy may place limits on coverage for individual items, such as $1,000 for a piece of jewelry. Talk to an agent about what wedding-related items your existing policy covers. If you already have some coverage, you can purchase a smaller wedding policy and avoid paying twice for the same coverage.

The Bottom Line
Many things that could go wrong on your wedding day can be guarded against with wedding insurance. When you're spending tens of thousands of dollars on the event, it can make sense to spend a couple hundred more to protect yourself. Wedding insurance will not only protect the money you've already spent, it will ensure that you can afford to fix most potential problems.