Tying the knot at home can help you cut corners. In 2011, the average cost of a U.S. wedding was $25,631, according to TheWeddingReport.com. An at-home wedding can run far less. However, an at-home wedding could wind up costing far more in the long run if the proper insurance coverage isn't in place.
Here are five scenarios where the right insurance could be just as important as the perfect wedding dress.
1. Your caterer's soufflé sets fire to your kitchen.
Before hiring a wedding caterer, ask to see the company's insurance policy, says Michael Davis Sr., president of the Michael L. Davis Insurance Agency in Ohio. The caterer’s insurance should cover property damage, negligence (a chafing dish overturns and sparks a fire) and injury (such as food poisoning).
"If they carry their own insurance, you would not have to file a claim against your homeowner's insurance if damage occurs," Davis says.
Kevin Alsup, vice president of insurance at Foundation Insurance Services in Florida, says that once you see the caterer's policy, you should call the insurer to verify that the policy is active.
If the caterer damages your home and does not have its own insurance policy, you'll have to file a claim with your home insurer. That could cause a jump in your rates, Alsup says.
2. A guest is injured after falling down your stairs.
A standard home insurance policy covers the medical costs of a guest who's injured in your home, Davis says. Typically, the medical coverage ranges from $1,000 to $10,000.
If guest claims negligence on your part and sues you, the liability portion of your home insurance policy would cover your legal defense, Davis says.
Davis recommends adding personal umbrella coverage in case your legal defense exceeds the $300,000 to $500,000 in personal liability coverage on a standard home insurance policy. Coverage under an umbrella policy usually starts at $1 million.
3. The toilet overflows from continuous use by your guests, and your wood floors are damaged.
In general, a home insurance policy will cover water damage caused by a burst pipe if it's related to an ice storm, for instance. However, if the damage occurred because you failed to properly maintain your home's plumbing system, you may be on the hook for the repair bill, says Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute.
"For instance, if you experienced trouble with plumbing before the event and didn't fix the issue, a backed-up toilet that causes extensive water damage could result in a claim denial," Worters says.
4. Someone steals your wedding gifts.
Home insurance protects you in case a wedding guest swipes the crystal goblets given by your Aunt Sally or the mixer given by your cousin Jonathan and his wife. If you do file a claim for the stolen presents, you'll first have to pay your deductible, which normally is $1,000, according to Davis.
5. A sudden snowstorm prevents guests from attending, leaving you on the hook for all the uneaten food.
In this situation, a standard home insurance policy won't help you; the policy excludes one-time events like weddings. But a separate wedding insurance policy would.
Wedding insurance may be purchased for as little as $75, says Steven Lauro, who manages the Wedsafe wedding insurance program on behalf of Aon Affinity.Two types of wedding insurance policies are available.
Event cancellation insurance reimburses couples who are forced to cancel or postpone their ceremonies. It also covers financial losses for things like the wedding photographer going out of business or the wedding dress being ripped.
Event liability insurance safeguards couples if they face a lawsuit over the injury of a guest or over damage to a guest's personal property, Lauro says.
In addition to a weather and stolen gifts, cancellation coverage under a wedding insurance policy protects you in case of postponement caused by illness, injury, a missing officiate (such as a minister or rabbi) or a no-show vendor.
The average wedding liability policy starts at $75 and averages less than $200, Lauro says. A wedding cancellation policy starts at $150. The deductible for this coverage hovers around $50, he says.