What is event cancellation insurance?
Last updated: August 2023
Special event cancellation insurance may help cover expenses if your special occasion — such as a wedding, bar mitzvah or anniversary party — unexpectedly needs to be canceled or postponed due to certain circumstances beyond your control, such as adverse weather or a death. You may also be covered for lost costs if your officiant or a major vendor, like your caterer or florist, fails to provide promised services.
Important note: You're not likely to find an event cancellation insurance policy that will provide coverage if a bride or groom voluntarily calls off a wedding, says the Insurance Information Institute (III).
With a special event cancellation policy, you typically choose a maximum amount of overall coverage (also known as your "limit," or the highest amount your insurer will reimburse you if you make a claim) depending on the total cost of your event. You may be required to pay a deductible before the policy helps reimburse you for a covered loss.
What does event cancellation insurance cover?
Event cancellation insurance can help reimburse you for the loss of nonrefundable down payments for expenses like catering, flowers, photography, entertainment or honeymoon travel if your event is canceled or postponed. You may also be protected if a paid vendor goes out of business before your event.
You should read your policy or speak with your insurance provider for details specific to any policy you might purchase, but other costs that may be covered include:
- Event photographs. This coverage may reimburse you for payments made to a professional photographer if he doesn't show up for the job or loses or damages your images before giving you copies.
- Special attire. Say your wedding dress is burned while being professionally pressed. This coverage may help pay to replace/repair your specialty clothing.
- Special gifts. If a gift intended for your event is lost or damaged, this coverage may pay to repair or replace it. Monetary gifts may be covered up to a specific dollar limit.
- Special jewelry. This coverage may help protect your wedding rings, quinceañera crown or other event-related jewelry if it's lost or damaged during the event. It may also offer protection for a specified period after the event.
- Military deployment. If you must postpone or cancel your event because of a deployment — yours, or that of an immediate family member, active event participant or your officiant — event cancellation insurance may help reimburse you for lost fees.
- Professional counseling. If your event's cancellation or rescheduling causes you enough distress that a medical doctor recommends counseling, this coverage may pay for those services.
Who can buy event cancellation insurance?
It's important to know that many policies only insure private events, and policyholders may be required to be U.S. residents. Business, public and sporting events are among the types of events that may not qualify for cancellation insurance. Coverage may not be available if your guest list exceeds a certain number of people, so be sure to follow any requirements outlined in your policy.
What else should I know about event insurance?
Your ability to purchase event cancellation insurance may depend on a few factors, such as how many days away the event is scheduled to take place and where it will be held. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Consider coverage when you sign on a dotted line. The NAIC suggests looking into event cancellation insurance as soon as you begin filling out event contracts. Keep in mind that some insurers won't let you take out a policy more than 24 months before your event or within the final 15 days leading up to the event.
- Payment may be due up front. Unlike other types of insurance, you may not have the option of making payments on event cancellation insurance. Your premium may be due when the policy is issued.
- Holding your event at your home? The Insurance Information Institute suggests checking with your homeowners insurance provider to be sure you have adequate liability coverage in case of an accident or other mishap on your property. You may be able to add special event liability coverage to increase your protection during the event.
- "Destination" events might be covered. Depending on your policy, your event may be covered if you are a U.S. citizen and the event takes place in certain locations outside the United States. Contact your insurance provider to learn more.
As you know, holding a special event can be a major financial investment. Event cancellation insurance is one way to help protect yourself in case an incident outside of your control interferes with your big day. Learn more about event cancellation insurance so you can decide whether it makes sense for you.