Published: January 2016
Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life — whether it's 30 people at a downtown hotel, a destination wedding for your closest friends and family or a backyard ceremony. According to The Knot's 2014 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding is more than $31,000 and engagements are typically 14 months long. That's a lot of time and money dedicated to planning your special day.
Hopefully your big day goes off without a hitch, but sometimes things may happen that you just didn't expect. What will you do if you have to turn to Plan B? Special event insurance may help protect what you've put into such an important event.
Yes, special event insurance, sometimes called "wedding insurance," is designed for events like weddings. Two different types of insurance may be available for you to purchase: cancellation and liability protection.
Special event cancellation coverage may help protect you from financial loss if your event needs to be canceled or postponed for a number of accidental or unexpected reasons, including weather that prevents the majority of guests from attending, a serious illness to the couple or immediate family and the bride or groom being called for military deployment. If you have to reschedule your reception because the banquet hall has no power after a big storm, but the caterer has already prepared the food, special event insurance will typically reimburse you, up to your policy's limits, for lost deposits and nonrefundable amounts for both the venue and the food. (And at what The Knot says is an average of $68 a plate per person, getting that money back would likely be a huge relief!)
This coverage may also help reimburse you for payments for a photographer or honeymoon if the wedding is canceled or postponed. And, even if your wedding takes place as scheduled, it may also help provide coverage if your photographs or videos are lost or damaged before you receive copies or for lost or damaged wedding gifts. The costs to repair or replace of special attire and jewelry, like a tuxedo, wedding gown or rings, may also be covered. Contact a local agent or read your policy to learn what types of coverage may be available to you.
Special event liability coverage may also help protect you should be found legally responsible for damage to the venue or an injury to someone at the event. So if one of your guests damages a wall at the banquet hall, your policy may help cover the costs of repairs. Or if your photographer trips and sprains his ankle trying to get a shot you requested, the resulting medical bills would likely be covered. Keep in mind that liability coverage is usually limited to a 24- to 48-hour period that ends when the reception is over. Coverage limits may vary by policy, so be sure to read yours so that you know how much coverage you have in place.
While it may be helpful if a vendor goes belly up or there's an illness in the family, special event insurance does not cover everything. If your photographer loses a memory card with some of the pictures or there's a mix-up with the cake, wedding insurance is not likely to provide protection. It's also important to note that a change of heart by either the bride or groom is not typically covered, and you will likely not be reimbursed for any expenses you've already incurred or any cancellation fees if the wedding is called off.
If you're eloping or having a small gathering, you may decide you don't need event insurance. But if you're having a larger event, special event insurance may help give you peace of mind as you invest time and money into your big day. You also may want to talk to your vendors about any insurance they may have, and look into what kinds of coverage you may already have through your home, auto or liability insurance as well as credit cards and warranties.
If you're going to purchase special event insurance, it's a good idea to do it as soon as you start incurring expenses for your wedding. Keep in mind, though, that there may be restrictions on when you can purchase coverage — often no later than 15 days before the event but no sooner than two years prior. You may be able to purchase liability coverage up to one day prior to the event.
Hopefully your wedding goes off just as you planned, but having special event insurance just in case may give you peace of mind so you can concentrate on getting ready for your big day.