Do you need wedding insurance?

US News

If you're engaged, you're probably still thinking about the question you were asked or that you posed: Will you marry me? But perhaps the question you should really be asking yourselves is: Do we need wedding insurance?

Sure, there are plenty of questions to ask if you're planning a wedding, like what color the tablecloths should be and whether you should hire a DJ or a band. But somewhere in there, every bride and groom should ask themselves the wedding insurance question. The answer is pretty simple: If you're eloping or holding a low-key affair, as a general rule, you don't need wedding insurance. On the other hand, if you're throwing a gala for the ages, it seems prudent to buy some. Wedding insurance typically runs from about $125 to $400, depending on the amount of coverage you need, according to Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.

Angela Thompson, author of "Unveiled: Secrets of the Wedding Industry" and a sociology professor at Texas Christian University, puts it this way: "You wouldn't spend $30,000 on a car and not insure it. Why would you spend $30,000 on a wedding and not buy wedding insurance?"

That's the argument most insurers put forth, and it sounds reasonable. But what is covered and what is not?

[Read: The Hidden Costs of Weddings .]

Change of heart. We'll get everyone's first question out of the way. No matter how well insured you are, if your bride or groom leaves you sheepishly standing at the altar in front of hundreds of guests, there isn't a policy that will cover that. Whoever is paying for the wedding will have to eat the costs -- and with any luck, the guests will stay and eat some of the food.

WedSure, a wedding insurance policy underwritten by the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, bills itself as the only insurer that will cover you for "change of heart." That said, someone would have to change their mind at least 365 days from the first covered event, such as the wedding rehearsal. So, yes, if someone dumps you 366 days before you're standing at the altar and you have WedSure, you are covered.

Some of the other big players in the wedding insurance industry include Travelers Insurance (protectmywedding.com) and Aon (wedsafe.com).

On the plus side of being dumped on or before your wedding day, some wedding insurance policies will pay for professional counseling if you're under severe emotional stress, according to Worters. "A doctor's note will be needed," she adds.

Someone important suddenly can't make it. Insurance won't pay if the groom or bride gets cold feet and bolts, but if either becomes seriously ill or there's a death in the family and the wedding has to be postponed, wedding insurance will cover that, Worters says. Many policies even cover unexpected absences, such as a bride or groom being called away for military service, she says.

"Also, if an officiant, such as a minister or rabbi, or a key vendor, like the caterer, florist or photographer, does not show up, you can recover some of the costs," Worters adds.

[Read: 5 Money Questions to Ask Before You Marry .]

Liability. It depends on your policy, but most will cover you if a guest is injured at your wedding, or if a drunken guest drives away from the reception and gets into a car accident. But don't fool yourself into thinking you have a blanket policy that will cover every problem you can imagine. For instance, most policies cover a 24 to 48 hour period, often starting from the wedding rehearsal dinner to the end of the reception. If your guest crashes a couple hours after your coverage and reception has ended and has the temerity to sue you for it, you'll likely have to get your own lawyer and not rely on your insurer's.

Something goes out of business or breaks. If the reception hall or the caterer you booked can't service your wedding, or your florist bungles the order, or your wedding gifts are stolen while you're giving the toast, this is where most wedding insurance policies really shine. In other words, you'll likely recoup all or most of your costs, depending how thorough your policy. But keep your expectations in check. For instance, if your photographer loses all of your photos or simply doesn't show up, you may want to redo the entire wedding. But you can't, of course -- at least not on your policy's dime. In this case, the insurance would pay -- within reason -- to bring the wedding party back together to take individual and group shots.

When you may not need coverage. If you're having a big affair, keep in mind that coverage can overlap.

"Make sure you don't duplicate any coverage," Worters advises. "Sometimes photographers and videographers have their own coverage."

She adds that you may also be covered for various crises through your credit cards, warranties or home or auto insurance.

[See: 8 Painless Ways to Save Money .]

"Your personal liability and excess coverage only provides you with coverage for losses that you can be held legally liable for," says Janece White, vice president at Chubb Personal Insurance. "So if you are having a wedding at a catering facility, they should have adequate coverage, including liquor host liability coverage."

Of course, if you are spending an unnerving figure like $30,000, you may not care if some coverage overlaps. After shelling out $500 for a wedding cake or $300 for invitations, what's a few extra hundred dollars for insurance?



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