Is it worth taking out wedding insurance?
The average cost of a wedding in the UK is expected to exceed £20,000 this year, according to online wedding guide UK Wedding Belles. Yet only 25% of couples insure their big day, figures from Datamonitor reveal.
That’s an awful lot of money to pay out without any form of protection.
I have to admit, I’m biased. I’m planning my own wedding, it’s going to cost me the average, and I’m insuring it. A comprehensive policy costs between £60 and £100. That’s around 0.04% of my total wedding spend. For such a relatively trivial sum, it seems utter madness not to take out cover.
Organising a wedding involves dealing with lots of different suppliers – from caterers and florists to dressmakers and musicians. So the scope for something to go wrong is pretty significant.
Last year, the top wedding claims were for a supplier going bust, closely followed by loss of wedding photos and damage to wedding outfits, according to Voyager Insurance Services. Reading through that list made me nervous. And so, after some pretty thorough research, I took out insurance for £77.
So what exactly am I paying for?
Cancellation & re-arranging
For me, the most important aspect of the policy is that it provides cover for cancellation and re-arrangement. This means we will be protected should myself, the groom, or any of the bridal party, fall seriously ill or something happen to our venue, such as a fire, and we can’t go through with the wedding as originally planned.
However, there a few exclusions to be aware of too. For example, cancellation cover does not apply to cold feet.
Your insurance will only pay out for cancellation due to ‘circumstances beyond your control’. My own policy will pay out up to £20,000 for cancellation and £15,000 for re-arrangement. While I think the chances of being forced to cancel are slim, the re-arrangement aspect gives me peace of mind. But don’t just take my word for it.
One person who knows all too well just how important it can be is David Mulligan, a 30-year-old accountant who is marrying his fiancée Sam in Scotland later this month.
“Our policy helped when our reception venue ceased trading just 12 weeks before our big day. It was a critical point in the policy that a replacement venue was available on the same day within the local area. We found a great venue but it was more expensive so we were overjoyed to be able to proceed under the terms of the policy and save a lot of tears.”
How much does it cost to insure the average wedding?
|Provider||Policy name||Cancellation cover||Premium||Excess|
Source: compareweddinginsurance.org.uk, 20 April 2012. The website does not cover the entire market.
Some insurers will require you to seek their permission before re-arranging and subsequently making a claim so check this aspect of a policy when choosing the right one for you. Other areas of your wedding budget any good policy will cover are damage to or loss of wedding rings, clothes, gifts and the cake up to the start of your reception.
Each policy differs as to how much it will pay out for any of the above, and the amount of cover you require will affect the price of your premium. For example, John Lewis has six levels of cover to choose from. The premiums range from £65 for Level 1, which covers wedding clothes up to £2,500 and photos for up to £2,000, while Level 6 will cost you £277, which covers clothes up to a whopping £15,000, and photos up to £7,500.
So it’s important to really break down your budget and work out how much cover you would realistically need for each area of spend. There’s no point being covered for more than you need.
Currently, none of the big comparison sites cover wedding insurance, but there is a smaller site trying to fill the void. Compareweddinginsurance.org.uk isn’t a bad place to start looking for a policy. It compares providers based on cancellation and public liability cover – insurance included in most wedding insurance policies to cover injury or damage caused by you or your wedding guests.
Rest assured, all the companies listed on the site are regulated by the Financial Services Ombudsman and protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should any of them go bust.
But before you buy...
If I’ve convinced you of the merits of insuring your big day, before you hop online for a policy there are two other points to think about.
First, check for exclusions. These vary considerably from policy to policy. Some won’t cover deposits already paid to suppliers before your wedding insurance was taken out. Some won’t pay out for damage caused by anyone under the influence of alcohol (though public liability cover will usually pay out regardless of alcohol consumption so this isn’t an exclusion to overly worry about).
These exclusions will likely be tucked away in the small print of your policy so make sure you read all the terms and conditions carefully.
Second, a common reason for not insuring a wedding is that if you pay for most of it by credit card, then under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if anything goes wrong with a supplier, you’re able to get your money back on purchases of between £100 and £30,000.
But this argument fails to acknowledge the fact that the suppliers responsible for the lion’s share of your budget – namely the venue and caterer – usually levy a card fee if you pay by plastic. For example, to pay the £11,000 bill for my venue hire and catering by credit card, I would have been charged 2% of my total spend. That would be £220. My insurance policy, which covers against supplier failure, was £77 – a saving of £143. That pays for an extra guest. Insurance was a no-brainer for me.
If you’ve have a complaint about a financial service product you have bought but the company you bought it from refuses to resolve your problem after eight weeks, the Ombudsman can help. The Ombudsman will investigate and resolve the matter. The Ombudsman is independent and its service is free to consumers. The Ombudsman may find in the company’s favour but consumers don’t have accept its decision and are always free to go to court instead. But if they do accept an Ombudsman’s decision, it is binding both on them and on the business.
Exclusion is a potential loss or specific risk that an insurance policy does not cover and they occur in all types of insurance policies. Common exclusions include: natural hazards (exploding volcanoes, earthquakes) war, nuclear fallout, wear and tear (anticipated through the use of a product, especially motor insurance), UFO damage to vehicles, vehicles “stolen” by vengeful spouses, travelling any pre-existing health problems and travelling to countries the Foreign & Commonwealth Office deems too dangerous.
This is more usually a feature of car insurance but it can also crop up in contents, mobile phone and pet insurance policies. An excess is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying out. The excess makes up the first part of a claim, so if your excess is £100 and your claim is for £500, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer the remaining £400. Many online insures let you set your own excess, but the lower the excess, the more expensive the premium will be.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.