When Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast in August 2011, Jason and Julia Hill had to postpone their wedding that was supposed to take place on the beach in Avalon, N.J. “We had to rebook everything,” says Jason Hill, a financial advisor and president of Client Focused Advisors. “From the honeymoon to the flowers that came in to the beach house rental, we lost our money.”
Hill estimates that he and his wife lost more than $7,000 on nonrefundable deposits and other costs. In hindsight, he says having wedding insurance might have helped him recoup those lost costs.
Wedding insurance — or special event insurance — is marketed as a way for couples to protect their big day from financial losses if an unforeseen event forces them to postpone or cancel it. For example, extreme weather such as the hurricane that forced the Hills to postpone their wedding typically is covered. Wedding insurance also can provide protection if you’re on the hook for property damage or an injury during your event.
However, there are plenty of circumstances that wedding insurance doesn’t cover — the most notable being coronavirus-related claims. Because the pandemic is a known event, the major wedding insurance providers aren’t covering losses or cancellations due to COVID-19 for newly issued policies. And most are reviewing claims for events that already have been cancelled on a case-by-case basis.
So the question is whether wedding insurance is worth the money. It can provide peace of mind, especially if you’re shelling out big bucks for a ceremony and reception. But you need to read the fine print of a policy to make sure you’ll actually be covered.
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the policies from the top providers. The pros and cons of each policy are listed. Plus, to help you decide whether you need coverage and which policy might be best for you, you’ll find answers to common wedding insurance questions.
Wedding Insurance Providers
Good for Small Weddings: eWed Insurance
As a result of the coronavirus, eWed is catering to couples who are opting for small ceremonies. Its new Micro Wedding insurance for weddings with fewer than 50 people offers $5,000 in cancellation coverage for $75.
The coverage is the same as its traditional cancellation coverage – with reimbursement for wedding cancellations for extreme weather, accidents or illness that prevents the couple or immediate family members from attending, unexpected military deployment, and venue or vendor bankruptcy. EWed’s cancellation insurance also covers loss of deposit, professional counseling, and loss or damage to wedding attire, jewelry photos and gifts. However, claims related to the coronavirus are not covered.
Because eWed provides comprehensive coverage at a good price, its insurance also is a good option for larger weddings. Its policies provide three days of coverage for the rehearsal, wedding and reception, and farewell brunch. Up to $100,000 in cancellation coverage can be purchased. And EWed’s insurance policies are offered through Houston Casualty Company, which has an A++ A.M. Best rating.
- Easy-to-navigate website
- Can buy liability and cancellation coverage up to one day before a wedding
- Three full days of coverage
- Comprehensive cancellation coverage
- No deductible for cancellation insurance
- Coverage excludes communicable disease/COVID-19 related losses
- Coverage doesn’t extend to as many countries as other insurers’ policies – only the U.S. and U.S. territories.
- $1,000 deductible for property damage
- Have to provide email address to get a quote
Good for Value-Priced Coverage: Markel
Markel offers more-comprehensive coverage at a lower price than many of its competitors. Its liability insurance policies start at $75 and cover bodily injury and property damage during the rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception, as well as set up and removal within 24 hours of the event.
Host liquor liability coverage is included, and venues can be named as additional insureds at no extra cost. Markel offers up to $2 million in liability coverage for weddings in the U.S., U.S. territories and Canada.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, $5,000 of cancellation coverage could be added to a liability policy for $50. Or an individual cancellation policy with higher limits could be purchased, starting at $130. Unfortunately, Markel has temporarily stopped offering cancellation coverage. The coverage was quite comprehensive and would provide reimbursement for cancellation or postponement of events, loss of deposits, professional counseling, honeymoon costs, stolen or damaged gifts, and damage to wedding attire, jewelry and photos or videos.
The Markel website is relatively easy to navigate, and you can get rate quotes quickly online. Coverage is provided through the Markel North America Insurance Group.
- Liability coverage can be purchased up to one day prior to an event
- Website is easy to navigate
- Policy details are straightforward
- Cancellation insurance has been suspended in some states
- $1,000 deductible for property damage claims
Good for Cancellation Coverage and Destination Weddings: Wedding Protector Plan by Travelers
Travelers’ basic policy is its Wedding Protector Plan cancellation policy — whereas liability insurance is the basic policy from most insurers. Liability coverage is an option that can be added to the Wedding Protector Plan.
Policies start at $160 and will reimburse couples for lost deposits if they cancel a wedding because of circumstances beyond their control (coronavirus claims are not covered). It also provides reimbursement for no-show vendors, damage to wedding attire, gifts, photos and jewelry, and expenses related to a cancelled honeymoon. Up to $250,000 in coverage is available in certain states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
The Wedding Protector Plan can be a good choice for destination weddings because it covers events in the U.S., U.S. territories, Canada, United Kingdom, Bermuda, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Caribbean islands (excluding Cuba and Haiti) — as well as weddings on cruise ships leaving from any of these locations. Plus, Travelers offers 24/7 claims services, which can be helpful if your wedding is overseas in another time zone.
Travelers has been around for more than 160 years and is one of the largest property casualty companies. Its wedding insurance can be purchased up to a day before a wedding. And there are no deductibles.
- High cancellation coverage limit
- No deductibles
- 24/7 claims service
- Not available to residents in Alaska, Hawaii and Louisiana
- Liquor liability must be purchased separately
- More expensive than other policies
- No refunds
Good for Customizable Wedding Insurance: WedSure
WedSure uses an à la carte model for wedding insurance coverage. The basic option is liability coverage, with policies starting at $125 for $1 million in bodily injury coverage and $2 million in property damage coverage.
You can add cancellation coverage to be reimbursed if you have to postpone or cancel your wedding for unforeseen reasons, such as serious illness or extreme weather (cancellations related to coronavirus are not covered). Honeymoon expenses also are covered if you have to cancel your wedding. However, the coverage is pretty bare bones, and there’s a deductible of at least $25.
You have to pay extra for coverage for gifts, jewelry, special attire, photography and video, rented property, professional counseling, and loss of deposits — which several other insurers include in their cancellation policies.
However, WedSure is the only wedding insurance provider to offer change of heart coverage if the bride or groom gets cold feet. The drawback is that the wedding must be cancelled 365 days or more before the event to be covered.
WedSure’s policies are secured by Allianz, a global insurer with consistently high financial ratings. Policies cover the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception and are available in all 50 states. You can purchase liability policies online up to 24 hours before your event (15 days before an event for cancellation coverage), get instant coverage and download your documents. Policy refunds are available up to 48 hours prior to your event.
- User-friendly website with fast quotes
- Customizable insurance options, including coverage limits and deductible amounts
- Policy covers wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception
- Coverage available for change of heart
- Cancellation coverage is bare bones — must pay more to get coverage for wedding attire, jewelry, gift loss, etc.
- Medical payments not included as part of liability coverage, must pay extra
- Have to figure out coverage and deductible amounts on your own
- Loss or claim related to coronavirus is not covered
Good for Last-Minute Liability Coverage: WedSafe
WedSafe makes it easy to get liability wedding insurance at the last minute. A policy can be purchased online on the day of your wedding, then the certificate of insurability can be emailed to your venue.
WedSafe’s liability insurance will reimburse couples for losses from damage or accidents that occur during the rehearsal, wedding and reception — as well as 24 hours before and after the ceremony for set up and tear down. It includes coverage for alcohol-related incidents — which many venues require. And venues can be added to the policy as additional insureds. However, the coverage appears to be more expensive. An online quote showed that the premium for $500,000 in liability coverage was $150.
WedSafe has been providing wedding insurance since 1999, and policies are underwritten by Nationwide Insurance, which has a superior financial rating from A.M. Best Company. Up to $5 million in liability coverage is available. There’s no deductible for general liability coverage for bodily injury, but there is a $1,000 deductible for property damage claims.
WedSafe did offer wedding cancellation insurance prior to the pandemic that included coverage for wedding attire, wedding rings, stolen gifts and damaged photos or videos. There was a 15% discount on the cost of coverage if you bought it along with liability insurance. However, it’s not offering cancellation coverage as of publication of this article.
- Coverage can be purchased on the day of a wedding
- Coverage covers rehearsal, wedding and reception and 24 hours prior and after events
- Cancellation coverage isn’t being offered during the pandemic
- $1,000 deductible for property damage claims
- Must apply for a quote to see prices online
- Website can be difficult to navigate
- Additional $15 Risk Purchasing Group fee
Cheapest Liability Insurance: Event Helper
Event Helper’s liability insurance starts at $66 for a small wedding and includes host liquor liability at no extra charge. As the number of guests rises, though, the cost of a policy rises. The price also rises for each day you want coverage. So if you’re having a big wedding, you might be better off with an insurer that doesn’t charge per guest.
At the time this article was written, Event Helper wasn’t offering cancellation insurance. When it offered coverage before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was more expensive than other insurers’ options. Cancellation insurance started at $250.
Event Helper has been around since 2009, and you can get coverage quickly through its website. However, the site doesn’t provide many details about what policies do and do not cover.
- Lower cost liability policies for small weddings
- Easy to get rate quotes online
- Money-back guarantee if an Event Helper policy doesn’t meet a venue’s requirement
- Limited information about policies available online
- Refund fee of $25.55 for cancelling liability policy
Why Wedding Insurance?
Wedding mishaps do happen. But does that mean you should spend money — especially if you have a limited wedding budget — to cover the possibility that something might go wrong on your special day?
In his 19 years of officiating more than 6,000 weddings, Brandon Rich of Rich Events says he hasn’t seen much evidence of the need for insurance. “Not many people are losing money,” he says. Usually, venues and vendors are willing to work with you, especially if you have to change your wedding day because of the coronavirus.
Of course, if you’re spending a lot on a wedding and have to cancel, the right coverage can help you get your money back. “I’ve seen cancellation insurance save the day,” says Gerald Hemphill, an independent insurance agent and president of GFH Insurance Agency. However, Hemphill admits that he doesn’t see a lot of wedding insurance claims.
Even if cancellation isn’t a concern, there’s still the issue of liability if there’s an accident at your wedding or property damage. Insurers claim that wedding venues often require couples to have wedding liability insurance. If your preferred vendor asks for a Certificate of Insurance, you might have no choice but to get liability coverage.
However, Rich, who also is wedding venue operator in Nashville, Tenn., says that many venues have liability insurance and don’t require couples to purchase their own coverage. So if the venue you’re interested in requires wedding liability insurance, you might be able to shop around and find another place that doesn’t.
If you’re still not sure whether you should get wedding insurance, consider the benefits versus the cost. Buying coverage might make sense if you’re planning a large, expensive wedding or can’t afford to cover any losses on your own.
What Does Wedding Insurance Cover?
There are two main types of wedding insurance: wedding liability insurance and wedding cancellation insurance. They provide different types of protection and typically are sold separately — which people don’t always realize. “A lot of folks will buy liability and think it includes cancellation coverage,” Hemphill says. So it’s important to understand what each type of wedding insurance covers.
Cancellation insurance is designed to protect couples if they have to cancel or postpone a wedding because of unforeseen events — such as a wedding venue that cancels or goes out of business, unexpected military deployment and serious illness or injury that prevents the honorees or close family from attending. Policies typically provide reimbursement for the following:
- Lost deposits paid to vendors
- Lost or damaged wedding attire such as a wedding dress
- Lost or damaged jewelry and wedding rings
- Lost, damaged or stolen gifts
- Lost or damaged photos
- Honeymoon expenses
However, there can be a lot of variance in what cancellation insurance policies cover. So it’s important to read the fine print.
You also need to check what a policy doesn’t cover. “Just because you get a little rain doesn’t mean it’s going to trigger coverage,” Hemphill says. Often, the weather must be severe enough to prevent the couple, family or guests from reaching the venue. Policies typically don’t cover a cancelled wedding if the bride or groom has a change of heart and is a no-show. And insurers aren’t covering claims related to the coronavirus, Hemphill says.
Liability insurance protects you if you’re held liable for property damage or a guest is injured. It won’t cover intentional damage or injuries. Some wedding venues require couples to have liability coverage, include the venue on the policy as a named insured and provide a Certificate of Insurance, Hemphill says.
Liability insurance also might provide coverage for alcohol-related accidents. If you plan on serving alcohol at your wedding reception, make sure your policy doesn’t exclude alcohol-related accidents, injuries or damages from coverage.
Be aware that liability and cancellation insurance will only cover costs up to the limits in the policy. So if you lose, say, $7,000 in deposits and other costs but you have only $5,000 in cancellation coverage, you’ll be on the hook for $2,000. Plus, policies can have deductibles — a dollar amount that must be paid out of pocket before coverage kicks in.
How Much Does Wedding Insurance Cost?
The cost of wedding insurance will vary depending on the type and amount of coverage you get. Also, it can vary from state to state. On average, though, liability wedding insurance costs $165 to $190, Hemphill says. Rates for cancellation insurance are in the same range.
Be sure to shop around to find the best price for the coverage you need. You also could work with an independent insurance agent. Independent agents typically work with several insurance companies and can do the comparison shopping for you. They also can help ensure you get the right policy for your needs.
How Much Wedding Insurance Should You Get?
It’s recommended that you get coverage in an amount that’s equal to what you stand to lose if you have to cancel or postpone your wedding. Keep in mind that the more coverage you get, the more expensive it will be.
When Should You Get Wedding Insurance?
Insurers recommend buying coverage when you begin paying vendor deposits. However, it’s possible to get coverage at the last minute. Several insurers allow you to buy wedding insurance up to one day before a wedding.
But you might run into problems by waiting. Insurers tend to exclude cancellations or postponement due to severe weather if a policy is purchased less than a certain number of days before an event.
Plus, if you’re in a rush, you might not take the time to shop around for the best policy or read the fine print to ensure that you’re getting the coverage you want.
Bottom line: When it comes to wedding insurance, you need to understand what you’re buying, Hemphill says. If you have to file a claim, you don’t want to find out too late that the coverage you have doesn’t provide the protection you need.