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Wedding insurance can't buy love, but it can reimburse you for "big day" disasters

Severe weather, no-show caterers, lost deposits, damaged bridal gowns, lost wedding rings and stolen gifts are just some of the things that can go wrong on a wedding day. While you may not want to even think about potential wedding-day disasters, you can buy insurance for them.

According to a survey by The Knot, one of the Internet's top wedding-planning websites, the average wedding today costs $27,800 and more in large urban areas. You may be plunking down 20 percent or more in nonrefundable deposits to all your wedding vendors.

wedding insuranceInsurance is meant to protect against life’s disasters, including weddings that are canceled abruptly. Your home insurance may offer some limited liability coverage, but to be covered for things like severe weather or damaged bridal gowns, you'll need to purchase wedding insurance.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), wedding insurance can cost between $125 to $400, depending on the amount of coverage you buy. Some policies have deductibles you must pay before insurance kicks in. Here are the three major wedding insurance providers and their plans.

1. Travelers Wedding Protector Plan

Travelers Insurance offers a Wedding Protector Plan that covers expenses associated with postponing a wedding due to severe weather (like a hurricane). It also covers lost or damaged bridal gowns and groom tuxedos, mishaps with event photography, no-show vendors, lost or damaged wedding bands, damaged wedding gifts, and a sudden illness or death that prevents the bride, groom or parents from attending. It also covers postponement expenses if the groom or bride has to withdraw for military leave. Options for liability coverage are also available.

Coverage generally provides reimbursement for "nonrecoverable expenses" such as lost deposits. Or, in the case of ruined photos, the policy pays for your wedding party to reconvene for new pictures. This policy does not have a deductible. A wedding insurance policy from Travelers starts at $160.

2. Wedsure

wedding insuranceR.V. Nuccio and Associates offers wedding insurance underwritten by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. through Wedsure.com.

The insurance covers similar calamities, including liability for you at the wedding venue, weather cancellations, the cost to retake photos if they are ruined and damage to gifts, jewelry and wedding attire. The insurance starts at $95. You design a policy by choosing from nine coverage types and picking the dollar-amount limit for each one.

In some states, you can also buy extra coverage for the biggest disaster that could befall any wedding day — a change of heart by the bride or groom. This coverage must be purchased by the person who finances the wedding (not the bride or groom) and pays to recover wedding expenses if the bride or groom gets cold feet during the planning stage (up to certain limits). You can also purchase coverage for expenses associated with counseling that may be needed to deal with the emotional distress of a canceled event.

3. WedSafe

WedSafe Wedding Insurance is underwritten by Markel American Insurance Co. You can buy one or both of WedSafe's plans: Wedding Cancellation Insurance and Wedding Liability Insurance. The cancellation coverage pays for problems such as severe weather, vendors who don't show up or go bankrupt, damage to wedding attire or rings, approved military leave or events that prevent important family members from attending.

WedSafe's Wedding Liability Insurance pays if you're held liable for injuries or property damage at the wedding and it's available with a "host liquor liability" for alcohol-related accidents. There's generally a $1,000 deductible for property-damage claims.

Home insurance provides some coverage

Questions to ask before you buy a wedding insurance policy
  • Is the insurance company licensed to do business in your state? (Find out from your state department of insurance.)
  • How much the policy will cost and how much reimbursement you can expect?
  • What is and is not covered by the policy?
  • Do you have similar coverage elsewhere through credit cards, warrantees or home, car or other insurance policies you may already have?
  • Source: Insurance Information Institute

    Your home insurance policy offers you some liability protection when you're away from home. For example, you likely already have coverage for "necessary medical expenses" at "a premises occasionally rented to an insured for other than business use (such as banquet facilities for a wedding reception)."

    Your wedding hall may have required you to sign a "hold harmless" agreement stating that if a guest is injured because of a condition of the premises and sues the hall, the liability is transferred to you. Find out the liability limit offered by your current home insurance and/or umbrella policy.

    What if there's property damage at the wedding hall? Your home insurance liability coverage extends only to damage done by fire, smoke and explosion. In other words, if one of your guests smashes a light fixture at the wedding hall and the hall owner holds you responsible, your home insurance will not pay.

    Common wedding insurance confusions

    As with any insurance policy, you want to understand what you are buying. For example, you may wrongly assume that your coverage kicks in if it rains on your outdoor wedding. But wedding policies are meant to cover "severe weather" that prevents most guests or the bride or groom from attending. You'd need a weather event on the level of a hurricane or blizzard in order to make a claim.

    Another common wedding-day problem, illness, is addressed by wedding insurance to a certain extent. It covers unexpected illness but won't cover illness from pre-existing conditions. Check your policy for specifics.

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