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What to Know About Wedding Insurance and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

by Katie Brownstein
Woman working on laptop

April 7, 2020

When it comes to any form of insurance, you probably don’t want to pay for it, and you definitely hope you don’t need to use it. But in the event of an emergency, you’re glad you have it. This holds true for wedding insurance, as we’ve seen amid COVID-19’s devastating impact on weddings.

Read on for a guide to wedding insurance and the questions you should ask providers to ensure you are covered during these uncertain times.

What is wedding insurance and what does it cover?

Typical wedding insurance is a liability policy, explains Michael Giusti, an analyst with insuranceQuotes. It will protect you from being held liable in situations like a guest getting injured at your wedding, your venue being damaged, or an over-served guest being pulled over after your wedding. However, liability insurance won’t help you if you have to cancel your wedding.

The good news is, more extensive wedding insurance coverage is available as a subset of special events insurance. Special event insurance offers specific insurance riders you can select for your policy, to cover ‘act of god’ or ‘force majeure’ cancellations, vendor costs, and even travel costs. 

Event insurance riders can even cover: 

  • Travel costs for VIP guests, such as immediate family and wedding party, in addition to travel costs for the couple.
  • Costs if a vendor backs out and you have to book another vendor last minute.
  • Disinclination to travel coverage, which means while there may not be a mandate in place from a government actor barring travel, if there are circumstances that make you hesitant to fly, such as the current coronavirus epidemic, your costs related to wedding travel would be covered.
  • ‘Cold feet’ coverage if you choose to cancel based on personal reasons.

As Giusti said, “The best advice I can give is, what keeps you up at night? What are my horror stories? What am I really scared of? Those types of things are what you want to make sure you have specifically covered.”

My venue offers wedding insurance, does that mean I’m covered?

The type of policy venues often provide is liability insurance, and “almost certainly would not cover cancellations, your vendors, or travel,” according to Giusti. If your venue provides wedding insurance, ask the hard questions to see what the policy covers, and decide if you want to supplement that coverage with additional insurance riders pending your needs.

Does wedding insurance cover claims related to COVID-19?

Whether your wedding insurance will cover claims related to coronavirus depends on your policy and if a pandemic would have been considered ‘an unforeseen event’ when your policy was signed. 

According to New England wedding planner Mavinhouse Events, “Couples with wedding insurance should closely review their policies for verbiage that includes ‘act of god,’ ’force majeure,’ or, ‘other unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances beyond the two parties control.’ 

All contracts are different and may include variations of the above verbiage but looking closely for those types of words will help you to understand if changes to your wedding plans as a result of the coronavirus would be covered by your insurance policy.”

If your policy was signed in late 2019, when COVID-19 was not yet a fear in the U.S., claims related to the virus would most likely be covered. At this point in time in the midst of the pandemic, you would need to get specific confirmation whether your policy covers coronavirus, or a specific cancellation rider to cover cancellation costs.

If your wedding is later in 2020 or in 2021 coronavirus-related claims may be covered, but don’t assume they will be. Call a variety of providers and find out what specifically each is willing to cover.

What questions should I ask wedding insurance providers?

If you are worried about COVID-19 impacting your wedding plans, Giusti says the most important thing is to ask the insurer in plain words if coronavirus-related claims will be covered. Don’t accept “epidemics will be covered” as a response, get specific confirmation for COVID-19.

Mavinhouse Events emphasizes asking about your specific wedding date, noting, “Insurance companies may have limits on the date of the event and if it will be covered. For instance, if your wedding is taking place in late May or beyond, an insurance company may not cover your claim because current CDC warnings do not officially extend past a couple of weeks. Ask if they have a current timeframe of covered events.”

How much does wedding insurance cost?

Wedding insurance costs will always vary, however the short answer is the more you are protected, the more expensive your coverage will be. 

Giusti notes that “You will always have a deductible to meet, but pending your policy, you could get up to 80% of your costs reimbursed if you have a cancellation rider.” This is significant savings considering the typical cost of a wedding.  

A vanilla policy could be under $200, a full protection policy could cost thousands of dollars. Giusti recommends looking “at the specific pricing in your state and in your situation” and getting several quotes before you make your decision.

When do I need to submit my insurance claim?

If you have to cancel your wedding based on an unforeseen event or ‘force majeure,’ insurance will most likely cover your cancellation costs if you file last minute. However, if you personally choose to cancel your wedding, insurance will most likely not cover it unless you have a specific cancellation or ‘cold feet’ insurance rider.

According to Giusti, “The more interesting aspect about timing is after the fact. There are often windows after the date that you need to file your claim within. If you wait five weeks [to file a claim] only to discover that you had a 30 day window to submit your claims, you are out of luck.” Be sure to submit everything related to your claim as soon as possible after the wedding date and check the timing specifications of your contract.

What steps should I take to submit my claim?

Mavinhouse Events suggests to first “Gather all of your vendor contracts, make a list of the deposits you’ve already made as well as a list of the remaining money you have due to vendors. The more information you have to provide your insurance agent the easier the process will be for you.” 

Additionally, “Insurance companies are going to be inundated with people asking questions so it’s important to remember that if you’re calling to be patient. See if there is already a form you can fill out in advance online, check for a new FAQ area of the website, and have your questions ready.”

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