If the big day is a disaster
More couples are buying wedding insurance to safeguard their budgets and for peace of mind. Policies can even cover cold feet.
By Aimee Blanchette, Star Tribune

May 26, 2007
When my brother B.J. got married three years ago, I learned a lesson for my own nuptials next summer. Anything can and will happen on your wedding day.

The day before his wedding, our mother fell down a flight of stairs and punctured a lung, broke four ribs and her wrist, which required surgery. With her willpower, Mom, although not quite herself, made it to the ceremony and even the reception.

In hindsight, B.J. said he would have taken out a wedding insurance policy to cover the costs he would have incurred had he postponed the wedding, especially after learning that he could buy a policy for as little as $160.

Wedding insurance has been offered in the United States since the early 1990s, but few couples had heard of it. The average cost of a U.S. wedding has reached nearly $28,000, according to a survey by Conde Nast Bridal Group, which publishes Brides, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride magazines.
More couples are taking out policies to protect their investment if the wedding has to be canceled or postponed because of misfortunes, according to Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. Those circumstances -- natural or man-made -- include natural disasters, damaged dresses, sudden illnesses, and even a change of heart.

Couples interested in insuring a wedding should be aware of the differences in price and coverage. If you don't think you'll need the "professional counseling" coverage that's automatically included with WedSafe's policy, perhaps the Fireman's Fund policy, which can be customized to your needs, is the better option.

"Wedding insurance isn't going to solve the problem when your mom tumbles down the stairs, but it gives you peace of mind that the huge financial commitment doesn't have to be made again," said Alan Tuvin, vice president of product management for the Travelers Companies, which started selling wedding policies in February. The cheapest of the policies, at $160, gives you $7,500 of postponement coverage.
Earlier this month, Fireman's Fund became the first insurer to add "change of heart" coverage to its policies.
Robert Nuccio, chief executive of California-based R.V. Nuccio & Associates, the agency that sells wedding and other special events insurance for Fireman's Fund, said he realized a few years ago that he needed to rewrite the policy to accommodate "cold feet" circumstances. He said his company now sells thousands of wedding policies a year, compared with a couple of hundred policies a year in the late 1990s. The leading claim is for lost or damaged wedding dresses.

Andrea Eaton, a financial planner with Cornerstone Wealth Advisors in Edina, got married a year ago, but didn't think twice about buying wedding insurance, because of the slight chance of the policy kicking in, she said. "Everyone is trying to get their finger in this wedding market. Insurance is just another way of businesses making money off weddings," Eaton said.
At the same time, Eaton can see why people with larger wedding budgets would want the insurance. "It's a small price to pay to have that piece of mind."

Policies have a one-time premium from $160 to $1,225, depending on the extent of coverage.
Wedding liability insurance is absolutely necessary, especially if the event is being held at a private location, such as someone's home where alcohol will be served, said Amy Fuerstenberg, owner of Mi Mi Design, a Minneapolis wedding planning business. She said many event locations now require proof of insurance. Liability insurance typically is an option with wedding insurance. A Fireman's Fund wedding liability plan starts at $95.
One way to cover yourself without buying wedding insurance is to make sure you have good vendor contracts, Fuerstenberg said. Be wary of generic contracts and ask for specifications to be included. If you're having a wedding far from where you live, then look at wedding insurance, because you won't have a chance to meet your vendors until you arrive, Fuerstenberg said.

I'll be having a modest wedding at my parent's home, and aside from a few rentals, there will be few vendors. My biggest concern is rain, which a wedding policy won't cover, unless it's severe enough that half of our guests can't attend. If one of the hanging lanterns catches fire and burns down the house, the extra coverage that my parents' umbrella policy provides should take care of the damages. And after eight years together, I'm confident that the "change of heart" policy isn't for us. Note to my fiance: If you think otherwise, please tell me now, sweetheart.

Aimee Blanchette • 612-673-1712 • ablanchette@startribune.com
2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.