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How to tell if you should get wedding insurance during COVID-19, and what to know if you have it already

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How to tell if you should get wedding insurance during COVID-19, and what to know if you have it already

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, like American Express, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.Wedding insurance has grown in popularity with more extravagant and destination weddings. Typically there are three types…

How to tell if you should get wedding insurance during COVID-19, and what to know if you have it already

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, like American Express, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • Wedding insurance has grown in popularity with more extravagant and destination weddings. 
  • Typically there are three types of coverage: liability, cancellation, and change of heart.
  • Usually, your wedding planner or venue will provide a list of providers. Your homeowners insurance may also provide wedding insurance via a rider.
  • Some wedding insurance providers are explicitly not covering cancellations due to COVID-19.
  • Sign up to get the Personal Finance Insider newsletter in your inbox »

For most people, a wedding is one of the most expensive events in their life. It is only prudent to have insurance for such a large investment.

Wedding insurance has always been around, but it has grown in popularity as society moved from home weddings to more extravagant venues and destinations. Now, as couples move and cancel weddings due to the pandemic, it’s on peoples’ minds once again. The type of coverage you select will determine whether your cancellation or postponement will be covered if you must cancel due to COVID-19.

Wedding insurance is sometimes referred to as event insurance, and policyholders pay a one-time fee to cover the event itself. Should it be cancelled, the insurance policy will reimburse all or part of your expenses, depending on the type of policy and the specifics.

Most wedding venues require the most basic type (general liability insurance) to cover any damages or injuries on site, which means almost anyone hosting a wedding has some type of wedding insurance by default. The trick is picking the coverage that best protects your investment — selecting the cheapest coverage may not be in your best interest.

The question is not whether you should have wedding insurance at all. Rather, do you need more than the basic insurance required by your venue? Even if your venue has general liability coverage, if your wedding ring is lost at the venue or gifts are stolen, typically those items are not covered. 

There are three basic types of coverage: general liability, cancellation, and change of heart.

General liability coverage protects the venue in the event damage or an injury occurs on site. Most venues require couples to obtain $1 million general liability policy that includes the venue as co-insured, Regina D. Brooks, owner and event producer at Régine Danielle Events, told Business Insider.

Cancellation coverage protects your investment if you cancel the wedding or a vendor cancels on you. Brooks, who’s been in the business for about eight years, said this usually includes a certain dollar amount of coverage you select for catering, photography, and alcohol vendors. Cancellation coverage is used when one partner is deployed by the military, develops a medical condition (not pre-existing), or there’s a sudden death.

Cancellation coverage is where these insurance policies get really specific. In a sample policy Brooks shared, a cancellation policy excluded coverage in a declaration of war or civil unrest. Although the sample policy covered the wedding ring, the engagement ring was considered “special jewelry” and not covered. Under this policy, the couple must request additional coverage for special jewelry and special attire. If you are wearing a vintage family heirloom, for instance, you want to make sure it is covered under the cancellation policy you select.

Change of heart policies cover cancellation for any reason, which makes them expensive. A change of heart policy usually only offers a percentage back, and many providers do not offer this type of coverage.

The cost of wedding insurance varies enormously, based on the cost of your event, the type of insurance you select, and what exactly you want to be covered.

Like auto insurance, the cost depends on the type of insurance you select: general liability, cancellation, or change of heart. For instance, Progressive insurance advertises rates as low as $66, but there are stipulations. The site reads that this rate may apply “in most states, premium based on forty attendees.”

Other cost estimates may be anywhere from $200 to $850 depending on the coverage you select (rings, photos, gifts, deposits). It makes sense when you think about it: Since you buy insurance to reimburse part or all of your costs should you have to cancel, a more expensive wedding is going to be more expensive to insure.

Most couples are given a list of providers either from their wedding planner or the venue, which may have a list of preferred providers. Brooks, whose company focuses on luxury and destination weddings, said her company gives a list of providers to clients as a courtesy and her clients usually use:

Event Helper and WedSafe are online marketplace agents that work with various insurance companies to help you find the best policy for your needs. Think of them like Priceline: comparison shopping for your customized wedding insurance. You select the type of coverage you desire and they search through their providers to see who will give you a policy. Although you may use Event Helper to search for a policy, once your policy is granted you may find out that it is insured via an insurance company such as Progressive or Nationwide.

Additionally, your homeowners insurance may provide event and wedding insurance coverage. Brooks had a client who already had homeowners insurance with Nationwide. Instead of separate coverage, they added wedding insurance as a rider to their homeowners policy. 

Most providers have an online checklist, where the couple can select the amount of coverage they want for catering, photography, and alcohol. However, Brooks suggests it is best to talk to an agent because purchasing wedding insurance can be expensive. You want to make sure you are getting the coverage you need for your individual situation, like for your “something blue” heirloom that has been in your family for ages. 

How the pandemic has changed wedding insurance

Like with everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic was an unforeseen event for insurance companies, and they’re still deciding exactly how to address it.

Brooks noted that in the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak, some policies covered COVID-19 cancellations due to government lockdowns. People with a change of heart policy could cancel for any reason, although most of her clients voluntarily postponed because the guidelines for social distancing changed daily. However, now that we are months into the pandemic, Brooks said some providers are changing their policies to explicitly not cover cancellations due to COVID-19.

If you are currently looking for wedding insurance starting now, your options may be more limited. Progressive, for instance, has offered wedding insurance via Event Helper. However, its website currently tells consumers that due to COVID-19 it is no longer offering this coverage. 

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If you already have wedding insurance, you should talk to your provider to see if there are any changes due to the pandemic. Changes will be specific to the policy you purchased. This is another good reason to reach out to your homeowners insurance to see if they might offer you wedding coverage via a rider policy. As an existing customer, insurance companies might be more likely to accommodate you.

You’ll never know unless you ask.

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