Wedding and honeymoon cancellation insurance offers protection from all sorts of risks — named storms, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, terminal illness, bankrupt reception halls, you name it.
But if you’re hoping your insurance policy will cover you in the event of a pandemic, you’re probably out of luck. Most wedding insurance policies do not cover losses for pandemics and explicitly list this kind of outbreak as an exception, says Mark Friedlander, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute.
“It’s very clear that pandemics pretty much eradicate the coverage in most policies,” Friedlander says. The silver lining is that there are ways couples can recoup their losses or postpone their special day. Here are five things couples need to know.
1. Find out what kind of coverage you have.
In the current market, the average wedding costs about $27,000, according to research by the Insurance Information Institute. Insurance may cover some or all of those expenses, and there are a few types of policies couples can obtain:
• Wedding cancellation insurance: Costing $150 to $600, this type of special event insurance is designed to safeguard a couple’s investment in case they’re forced to cancel or postpone their nuptials because of unforeseen events (pandemics notwithstanding).
Couples can customize these policies to suit their needs. They may choose a basic policy that covers just the venue, or opt for a larger a-la-carte package covering multiple vendors. As long as there are no stated exclusions, the couple will receive full reimbursement for each item they cover.
• Wedding liability insurance: This coverage costs an additional $250 to $500 and offers couples liability protection from injury or property damage that might occur during the event.
• Honeymoon insurance: A couple can insure their honeymoon by obtaining a separate travel insurance policy. A standard travel policy costs 7% to 10% of the total cost of the honeymoon. Adding “cancel for any reason” coverage costs 40% to 50% more.
2. Don’t expect to be covered for a pandemic.
Depending on how much you’re willing to spend on your policy, wedding cancellation insurance will cover almost any expense, including the reception hall, the dress, flowers, photography, the cake, the limos and just about anything else you can think of.
In a pandemic, all of that becomes null and void – even if your area imposes a lockdown. The same goes for honeymoon coverage, unless a couple has purchased “cancel for any reason” coverage. “A standard travel policy would not cover trip cancellation due to the pandemic exclusion,” Friedlander says.
3. Do look for other reasons why you might be covered.
Although most policies directly exclude pandemics, the ripple effect of the coronavirus could trigger cancellation coverage in certain situations. The policy may apply if someone in the wedding party contracts the virus, or if any vendors shut down during the pandemic.
Cancellation policies apply to a number of other situations, too, as long as it’s a reason beyond the couple’s control. Weather and natural disasters are among the leading causes of cancellations, but other reasons include serious illness or injury, a venue going out of business, or a caterer bailing a few weeks before the wedding. Some providers even offer a “change of heart” provision in case someone gets cold feet.
If your policy does allow you to cancel, remember that most insurers require couples to file a claim at least two to four weeks before the event. “Change of heart” clauses are the exception, and claims need to be filed at least a year in advance, Friedlander says.
4. Don’t bother trying to get insurance now.
Many providers have put a moratorium on writing new wedding insurance policies. So even if a couple is planning a wedding for a year from now, there is no way for them to insure it.
5. Check your service contracts, and reach out to your vendors.
Even without this coverage, all is not lost for couples. A couple’s best course of action is to work directly with their venue and vendors. Many service contracts contain what’s known as a force majeure, or impossibility clause that exempts both parties from being able to carry out the contract because of an Act of God or other circumstances beyond anyone’s control.
Airlines, hotels and vendors have been very willing to work with people who need to cancel or postpone, especially since they want to keep their clients’ business when it comes time to reschedule, says Karen Sault Conrad, who plans client meetings and coordinates events for FirstPoint Management Resources, an association management firm in Raleigh, N.C.
“Don’t just send an email. Explain the situation,” Conrad says. “They may have a brother, sister or someone else going through this. It’s not just the company. It’s the people working for them. And they’re experiencing the exact same thing.”
By Autumn Cafiero Giusti, insuranceQuotes.com writer
Autumn Cafiero Giusti is a New Orleans-based writer and business journalist who specializes in insurance and personal finance. She is a frequent contributor to insuranceQuotes.com.