Weddings are a big business. With the average Canadian nuptials costing around $30,000 and planned at least a year in advance, engaged couples can look forward to constantly opening their wallets to secure a venue, catering, photographer, flowers, décor, and entertainment.
One detail that shouldn’t go overlooked: Wedding insurance.
“Many of these items have large, non-refundable deposits, or the money has to be paid regardless of cancellation or postponement,” says Jamie Martyn, president of Kennedy Insurance Brokers Inc. in North Bay, Ont.
Even the most meticulously planned weddings aren’t immune to mishaps. If you’re sinking months of planning and thousands of dollars into your big day, wedding insurance is relatively low-cost for peace of mind from financial loss caused by damages, postponements, or cancellations.
What’s covered, what’s not
Coverage, premiums, deductibles, and limits will vary from package to package. Some policies are all-inclusive, while others are basic but let you purchase additional coverage. Depending on the policy, wedding insurance will cover some or all of the following:
- General liability (including host liquor liability)
- Wedding cancellation or postponement (with exceptions, see below)
- Honeymoon cancellation
- Failure of suppliers (your DJ or limousine cancels, or you need to retake your wedding photos)
- Lost deposits (the caterer is a no-show, or wedding dress store/venue goes bankrupt or closes down)
- Damage to or loss of wedding attire, rings, presents, cake, stationary, and/or flowers
“The most common wedding-related claims are generally bridal attire being damaged, wedding presents gone missing, rented property damage … personal injury and damage done to the facilities and its premises,” says Kathleen Greeley-Hamilton of PAL Insurance Brokers Ltd. in Simcoe, Ont.
As you’d probably expect, you’ll be covered if you have to postpone due to the sudden death, illness, or injury of an immediate family member. Martyn also gives the example of financial hardship: If the groom involuntarily loses his job (and is eligible for employment insurance) and the couple decides to cancel their wedding until they’re back on their feet, the right policy would provide for that.
Unfortunately, wedding insurance won’t cover cancellation if the bride or groom has a change of heart and calls things off. Ditto if you have cancel or postpone due to a pre-existing condition or illness.
And while you won’t be compensated for rain on your wedding day (sorry, Alanis), you will be covered for extreme weather. Severe flooding has drowned peak wedding season on the Toronto Islands for several couples, according to the Toronto Star — at least one bride interviewed said they didn’t buy insurance. In wildfire-stricken British Columbia, evacuations have couples scrambling to find new venues and alternative accommodations — in some cases, reports the CBC, up to eight hours away from home.
As long as it’s an insured peril in your policy, you would be covered if extreme weather damages your venue, if it poses a serious safety threat to those attending the wedding, or if it causes more than half of your guests to miss the wedding.
How much does it cost?
Many insurers across Canada offer wedding-specific policies. Martyn says depending on the cost and size of your event and the liability limits ($1 million, $2 million, or $5 million), packages start around $250 and run up to $1,000. There’s usually a specified maximum amount that can be claimed under each section (for example, up to $4,000 for cancellation expenses). Destination weddings outside Canada will cost more. Don’t choose your policy based on which one is cheapest — make sure you have proper coverage for your event.
When should you buy it?
“The policy can be purchased 12 to 18 months prior to the wedding date,” says Greeley-Hamilton. Coverage isn’t retroactive, so it’s best to have insurance in place before you start making commitments and signing contracts. Any sooner than one month before the wedding is pushing it. If you’re a super procrastinator who’s getting married on Saturday, don’t expect to be accommodated 24 hours before — most insurers need at least three to five days’ notice.
Some venues will require proof of liability insurance when you submit your deposit. If your venue already has insurance, ask them about their coverage and limits so you can identify any gaps.
The bottom line
Everyone thinks it’ll never happen to them, until it does — that’s the point of insurance. Weddings are notorious money vacuums, but insurance is one thing you shouldn’t skimp on if you’re thinking of cutting costs. Like weddings, every policy is different, so speak directly with an insurance broker to have the terms fully explained and all your questions answered.
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