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Do you need wedding insurance?

Thousands of couples became engaged on Valentine’s Day. Now that the question has been popped — and answered in the affirmative — the planning begins. You’ll need to find the ideal venue, pick out the perfect gown, assemble the guest list … and on and on.

One thing you may want to include in your planning is wedding insurance — designed to protect you and your loved one from losing thousands of dollars on the Big Day. The cost of wedding insurance varies from roughly $125 to $400, based on the amount and type of coverage you buy.

Mainly, this type of special event insurance offers financial peace of mind if you’re forced to cancel your nuptials because of bad weather or a natural disaster.

wedding insurance

For many couples, such insurance can be a smart investment. In 2010, the average couple spent about $24,000 to get married, according to The Wedding Report Inc., often laying down nonrefundable deposits with venues, caterers, photographers, florists and others.

Many insurance carriers also offer coverage in case:

  • Death, injury or sudden illness causes postponement.
  • Wedding rings are lost, damaged or stolen.
  • Key players — like the minister, caterer or photographer — drop the ball.

Some policies even include riders that cover military deployments, damage to clothing and professional counseling.

Popping the insurance questions

To determine your needs for wedding insurance coverage, consider:

  • The total budget for your wedding.
  • Whether you’re at high risk for cancellation because of illness, seasonal climate or military deployment.
  • The stability of your vendors.
  • The venue’s requirements for liability insurance.

Then, ask the following questions to make sure the policy you’ve selected is the right one for you:

  • How much does this policy cost?
  • How much will I be reimbursed if a loss occurs?
  • What exactly is covered in this policy?
  • What is not covered?

Vowing to avoid tragedy

Erin Watson and her fiance, Leonidas, had planned a wedding in Carlsbad, Calif., on Aug. 22, 2009. Everything was in place, including the venue, which they had booked nearly a year in advance. Then, two weeks from the Big Day, they received some bad news.

The venue “was a private residence he had opened as a business to hold events and weddings,” Watson says. “Apparently, he didn’t have all the proper permits and licensing through the city. … The city just shut him down completely.”

Without the insurance policy that Watson had purchased from WedSafe to cover liability and cancellation, the couple could have lost as much as $6,000. Instead, they were able to recoup their losses and move the reception to a nearby resort. WedSafe policies are underwritten by Markel American Insurance Co. of Waukesha, Wis.

Even if you’re wary of adding yet another line item to the wedding budget, make sure you read your facilities contract carefully. Many venues now require spouses-to-be to buy liability insurance.

wedding insurance

In this case, the policyholder (whoever is footing the wedding bill) takes out a policy — usually up to $1 million worth of coverage — then names the facility as an additional insured party.

“Facilities are getting smart. They want you to have your own coverage; they want somebody to share that loss if somebody falls,” says Robert Nuccio, president of R.V. Nuccio & Associates Inc. in Toluca Lake, Calif.

Francis L. Dean & Associates Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, offers one such liability policy, which protects policyholders from litigation surrounding property damage, injury or death at your event, and satisfies the required insurance rider in your venue contract.

Grooming yourself for all the possibilities

For those who want play it even safer, R.V. Nuccio & Associates, WedSafe and Travelers all provide more extensive coverage.

Nuccio created an a la carte menu so that couples can choose which portions of the Big Day they want covered, including no-show caterers, out-of-business venues or AWOL photographers.

For instance, if you call your photographer six weeks after the wedding to get the proofs — only to find that he went out of business — a policy from Nuccio’s agency can pay to fly key wedding participants back for the nuptials, “put them up in hotels, feed them, redress them, buy the cake and flowers, rent the facility, rehire the photographer, reshoot all the pictures and fly everyone home.”

R.V. Nuccio & Associates says it also offers the only policy in the United States that covers a change of heart. The policy applies only to “innocent parties,” meaning that if the bride and groom are paying for the wedding, they’re ineligible for change-of-heart coverage.

“If the father of the bride paid for the wedding … and if the bride decides not to get married, he’s got the coverage,” Nuccio says.