On March 15, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended canceling all events of 50 or more for the next eight weeks. For thousands of couples with weddings up until May 15, 2020, this news is overwhelming.
Beyond the emotional impact of postponing a wedding, the financial repercussions can be just as taxing. Furthermore, brides and grooms may find more questions than answers as they tag team calls to wedding planners, venues, caterers, florists, DJs, and more.
As you navigate through these challenges, refer to the information and resources below for assistance.
What is wedding insurance?
First of all, yes, wedding insurance — also called event insurance — is a real product and was available long before the coronavirus outbreak.
“In America, wedding insurance didn’t really gain steam until the 1990s,” says Robert Hunter, the director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America in Washington, “I used to tell people not to buy it, but it has become a much more mature product over time, and now I recommend purchasing it to many people.”
Weddings often necessitate months of planning and thousands of dollars — but, even then, anything can go wrong. Insurance company, Travelers, says wedding/event insurance can protect the insured from circumstances like “venues closing, vendor no-shows, extreme weather, damaged gifts, sickness or injury and more.”
Nationwide adds wedding insurance is available to protect your financial investments “from circumstances which are beyond the wedding party’s control.”
What does wedding insurance cover?
There are typically two types of event/wedding insurance you can request: cancellation and liability.
As the coronavirus spreads, many couples are seeking cancellation insurance, which can protect your expenses when your wedding unexpectedly needs to be canceled or postponed.
Liability insurance, on the other hand, can protect you from incidents often caused by a guest or vendor, such as damaged property, alcohol-related accidents, and even bodily harm. In fact, most venues will require some form of liability insurance.
Where can I get wedding insurance?
Unfortunately for many brides and grooms today, wedding insurance is only now becoming a household term, and most insurers are no longer accepting new cancellation policies.
Markel Insurance has updated its website to inform potential clients they are not offering new event cancellation policies, insurance broker Event Helper announced the same in a Bloomberg article, and Travelers confirmed for Money Under 30 readers that they too will be temporarily declining requests for new event insurance policies.
“It’s like trying to get insurance in the middle of a hurricane,” says Jove Meyer, founder of Jove Meyer Events in New York City.
Wedding insurance provider WedSafe recently added a “Wedding Insurance and Coronavirus (COVID-19)” page to their site to help engaged couples understand the complications regarding event insurance and the coronavirus.
“Like most insurance, canceling for the fear of something potentially happening, including coronavirus concerns, would typically not be a covered reason for cancellation,” says vice president of Aon’s WedSafe program, Steve Lauro. “Also, given the news coverage and official designation as a pandemic, it is considered a known event, which would likely preclude any coverage for policies sold after a certain date in time.”
Lauro clarifies liability insurance is still available through some providers, like WedSafe.
How much does it cost?
Costs for a wedding insurance policy — whether you opt for liability, cancellation, or both — will vary depending on what you want to be covered and the projected total cost of your wedding.
According to the wedding resource site Here Comes the Guide, “policies start at only $75 in most states, and the average cost is under $200.”
However, insurance analyst Michael Giusti reports a wider range to Brides.com:
“Special events insurance is what’s called a non-standard policy, meaning every single policy from every single provider is different. The very entry-level policies, I’ve seen them under $200, but certain things like destination weddings can run up to $1,000.”
Nevertheless, many event planners will recommend insurance for your wedding. “The cost is a drop in the bucket compared to your total expenditure,” says Megan Hiltbrand, a wedding and event planner in New York. Wedding planner Jove Meyer agrees, “All couples should have insurance. If you don’t have it… don’t beat yourself up, but definitely get it for the new date!”
Can I recover my wedding investments?
For many engaged couples, the question of whether to postpone the wedding or not may be decided for them. Travel bans have made destination weddings inaccessible, and brides with dresses manufactured in China may already be informed of delays.
However, whether or not couples can recover their financial investments during the coronavirus crisis is less certain. Meet with your wedding planner and begin conversations with your vendors immediately to discover this answer for yourself.
Talk to vendors and review contracts
Some vendors provide an “act of God” or force majeure clause in their contracts, which could entitle you to a refund. However, Heather Jones, the catering sales director of Wente Vineyards, in Livermore, California, warns, “Not all companies’ force majeure or cancellation policies are the same and may not cover the situation with coronavirus.”
While there is no guarantee that engaged couples will be able to recover their deposits, many vendors are flexible and understanding in light of these unique circumstances.
Bride Allison Allen had planned to marry her fiancé at the end of March before government guidelines prompted her to reschedule. In an interview with WBTV News, Allison shared that
“all of her vendors, including her venue are working with her and she’s not losing any money because of COVID-19.” “It was bittersweet because we put all this planning into it,” she says, “but the safety of our family members was more important.”
Don’t cancel, postpone
One way to protect your invested funds is to work with your vendors to postpone your wedding, as opposed to outright canceling it. Jeffra Trumpower, senior creative director at WeddingWire, says finding a common date in the future could help the couple and vendors save money.
Wedding venues, planners, caterers, florists, and more recognize these unprecedented circumstances require a unique approach and are working hard to provide options for their customers. “As planners, we want this to happen for you — you deserve to celebrate,” says Aleah Valley of Valley & Company Events in Seattle. “Let’s just shift the date to make that happen!”
All this said, as you reach out to vendors to discuss options, keep in mind that they are also experiencing stress and financial loss as a result of this pandemic. No person will leave this chapter of our history unscathed, so collaborate well with the companies involved in your big day and do what you can to minimize the economic pains they too are suffering.
Remember you’re not alone
Despite the disappointment felt by hundreds of brides and grooms this year, couples across the country are pursuing creative ways to alter their big day.
Some, like Brad Wilson and Brooke Cook from New York, eloped on the way to their wedding.
Others, like Ashley Gruber and Jeph Mwaituka from Alabama, live-streamed their wedding on Facebook for family and friends. A friend of Gruber and Mwaituka shared before joining the live stream, “COVID-19 may…keep people away, but it can’t keep love away!”
Even with the uncertainty, you feel and the questions you face, remember that when all the planning is done and your day has finally arrived, it’s the person you’re with that makes it priceless.
As couples struggle with the spreading coronavirus and the stress of postponing a wedding, they’ve turned to insurance companies for help.
While wedding/event insurance is often available for purchase days before a wedding, the pandemic has forced many companies to temporarily decline requests for new event cancellation policies.
Instead, couples should review contracts with vendors and discuss options to postpone their big day and protect the health and wellbeing of their family, friends, and community, at large.