For Better, For Worse: 5 Ways to Comprehensively Insure Weddings

In 2017, vendor issues accounted for 40% of wedding-related claims—more than any other type of claim in the market, according to Travelers.

The second most common claim was event cancellation due to severe weather at 23%. Other top reasons for wedding claims included cancellations as a result of illness or injury and military deployment, which comprised 14% and 4% of claims, respectively.

Since the average wedding costs upwards of $20,000, according to The Wedding Report, the argument for couples to take out insurance on the costs associated with their big day is an easy sell, especially since many venues require it.

Here are five ways to make sure your soon-to-be-married clients receive comprehensive coverage:

1) Account for vendor letdowns. In nine of the past 10 years, the top cause of wedding insurance claims was vendor problems, according to Travelers, which also reports that one-third of vendor issues involved venues that closed unexpectedly or couldn’t accommodate the wedding as promised.

“If a vendor or venue fails, that’s responsible for the larger claims we get,” says Todd Shasha, managing director of personal insurance product management, Travelers. “The most expensive claims are when the venues go out of business. With any wedding vendor, there’s that potential, so you need to provide coverage for lost deposits.”

For couples who are planning a wedding, Travelers recommends researching vendors thoroughly before placing deposits and checking with the Better Business Bureau for reviews or references.

2) Offer a standalone policy. Some insureds may be tempted to rely on their homeowners or personal umbrella insurance to insure a wedding, especially one hosted on their property. However, unlike those policies, a standalone wedding or special events policy makes coverage straightforward and transparent for all interested parties.

“When you take out a special events policy, there is definitely coverage for that specific event,” says Taylor Davidson, owner, Neil Benton Arts & Entertainment. “Basically, it’s eliminating grey zones. That way, we know there’s coverage versus having to ask, ‘Is there coverage?’”

A homeowners policy, by contrast, is designed “solely to protect the insured’s personal interests,” Shasha says. “If you have a wedding insurance policy, it will also protect the interests you’ve contractually assumed.”

For example, “if a guest causes damage to some artwork at a wedding venue, is there coverage under the HO policy? Probably not,” Shasha says. “A homeowners policy protects the insured, but it will not pick up responsibility for your guests.”

3) Don’t let it rain on their wedding day. In 2017, almost one-quarter of Travelers’ wedding insurance claims were due to severe weather that forced cancellation or postponement. This was the highest percentage of weather-related claims Travelers had seen since it began selling wedding insurance in 2007.

“If you have severe weather, such as a hurricane, and you have to postpone or cancel the wedding, a wedding policy means the insured will be reimbursed for any non-coverable expenses,” explains Holly Casper, life & bond account manager, The Roehr Agency.

Casper recalls a couple that planned a destination wedding in the Bahamas. A hurricane swept through the region, rendering their reception site inaccessible. “They had wedding insurance and were reimbursed for all their lost deposits,” Casper says. “It reimbursed their travel, too.”

4) Consider wedding bells and whistles. A multitude of extras go into a wedding to make it a day to remember—and a lot of them can be very expensive. Make sure your clients consider items such as jewelry, attire, gifts and more.

For example, “if your photographer’s film or data is defective, or lost or damaged, insurance can cover the cost to retake those photos,” Casper says. “And if the wedding gown or tuxedo gets lost or damaged, we can cover that too.”

Jewelry is an especially important consideration. “Things get lost and, unfortunately, they also get stolen,” Shasha says. Explain that your client can secure coverage for valuable items during the event with wedding insurance and can arrange coverage for after the event by reviewing their homeowners policy.

5) Add liquor liability. Weddings are a cause for celebration, and wherever there’s a celebration, it’s safe to assume more than a few drinks will be involved—which means accidents are probably not too far behind. “Host liquor liability is probably the most important thing agents should talk to their clients about,” Davidson says.

Some venues even require couples to secure this coverage before booking their event. “If you get sued for liquor issues, it’s probably going to be because somebody got in an accident on the way home,” Davidson says.

Pay close attention here—“current forms have become grey about whether they will cover auto,” Davidson warns. “You don’t want a policy where there’s a grey zone.”

Will Jones is IA assistant editor.