Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that more than 260,000 weddings were postponed across the UK in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak disrupted almost every aspect of people’s lives. And despite the restrictions slowly easing across the country, the impact of the pandemic is expected to be felt not just by couples planning their special day, but also wedding industry professionals whose jobs rely on the success of these celebrations.
Is getting wedding insurance necessary?
One lesson that people have learned with the pandemic is that unexpected events can throw a wrench even in the most well-planned celebrations.
Separate surveys by wedding services providers For Better For Worse and Hitched.co.uk have pegged the cost of the average wedding in the UK at around £30,000 to £32,000 – and for an expenditure this huge, the companies say it may be wise to invest in wedding insurance.
However, not all wedding celebrations require coverage, according to Hitched.co.uk.
“You don’t need wedding insurance if you’re hosting a small wedding and you have agreements in place with your venue and/or suppliers making it easy for you to postpone or cancel with little to no financial repercussions,” the firm wrote in an article posted on its website. “If it would be easier for you to rearrange your day by yourselves without the assistance of an insurance company, then this may be the preferred option for you. However, in most cases we do recommend having at least basic cover in place.”
What does wedding insurance cover?
Most wedding services and financial comparison websites have sections dedicated to wedding insurance to help consumers decide if getting coverage is the right option. A quick check on these websites reveals the following as the typical inclusions in a standard wedding insurance policy.
- Venue problems: Policies typically cover the costs incurred when certain events have made it impossible to hold the ceremony in the chosen venue, including flooding, fire, and bankruptcy. Insurance also provides coverage if, for any reason, the venue owners suddenly cancelled the booking. This clause is often found under cancellation cover.
- Cancellation due to illness, accident, or death of a family member: When a wedding needs to be postponed or cancelled because of these incidents, wedding insurance should cover the cost. Coverage also applies if these things happen to someone who is an integral part of the wedding such as the bride, groom, maid of honour, and best man. For illnesses to be covered, however, they must not be caused by a pre-existing condition.
- Weather-related cancellation: Most policies cover cancellations caused by extreme weather if half of the guests cannot attend.
- Lost or damaged items: Wedding insurance offers coverage if certain items vital to the ceremony are either lost or damaged. These include wedding bands, cakes, flowers, and wedding attire. Some policies cover wedding gifts as long as they are not left unattended, while some provide coverage for flowers and cakes only until the wedding reception. Most policies also cover instances when one of the suppliers does not turn up.
- Photo or video issues: A policy may cover reshoots if technical problems result in the loss of photographs or videos. This also applies when the people tasked to provide photo and video coverage are unable to attend.
- Personal liability: This covers third-party injury or damage to property occurring in the wedding ceremony.
What does wedding insurance exclude?
Wedding insurance does not cover cancellations if either of the couple has a change of heart or for those resulting from minor issues such as a misplaced decoration. Cancellations or postponement due to financial difficulty are also not covered, although some policies provide coverage if one of the couples experiences redundancy, depending on how close it is to the wedding date. If the wedding could not push through because a family member gets sick or dies because of a pre-existing medical condition, this is also not covered.
Some insurance companies offer coverage for outdoor weddings in an event extreme weather halts the ceremony. Some also provide coverage for marquees and ceremonial swords. However, all these are excluded from standard insurance and must be purchased as an add-on.
How much does wedding insurance cost?
Insurance rates depend on a range of factors, including how much the wedding costs and the type of coverage needed. Premiums can start at as little as £20 for ceremonies costing less than £2,500 and can reach £300 for weddings worth £100,000.
Does wedding insurance cover COVID-19-related cancellations?
Many wedding insurance providers paused the sale of policies after the pandemic struck as they continued to assess the risks brought about by COVID-19. Policies purchased before the pandemic, however, remained in place. For those accepting new clients, many do not provide protection against coronavirus-related incidents.
Here is what the policies of some of the UK’s biggest wedding insurers say regarding COVID-19-related cover, as of December 2021:
Emerald Life has temporarily suspended the sales of wedding insurance, according to its website. Existing policyholders, however, may be covered if a key member of the wedding party contracts the coronavirus or if a venue cancels “because it is self-isolating as a one-off event.” Cancellations arising from the government’s implementation of lockdowns and assembly restrictions are not covered.
The Insurance Emporium
The Insurance Emporium has also paused selling new wedding insurance policies due to the pandemic. Policies that were already purchased remain valid. But according to the insurer’s website, these do not cover claims resulting from a notifiable disease, which it defined as “any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities.”
“COVID-19 (coronavirus) has now officially been registered as a notifiable disease in the UK,” the company added.
John Lewis is also not offering new wedding insurance policies, as of December 2021, but existing ones remain in force. On its website last updated on August 10, the insurer says: “Our policy will provide cover if your venue for the wedding or wedding reception is unable to hold your wedding due to the outbreak of infectious or contagious disease, the venue is closed by the relevant authority, or the death, injury or sickness of you, your close relative or members of your wedding party (e.g. the best man, bridesmaids, page boys and ushers) that would make continuance of the wedding inappropriate, subject to the policy terms and conditions.”
Wedinsure has a page dedicated to coronavirus-related FAQs, but this only applies to policies purchased before March 19, 2020. The insurer resumed sales of wedding insurance on October 23, 2020.
According to the website, Wedinsure would consider a claim for cancellation or rearrangement resulting from the coronavirus for the following reasons:
- The venue is unable to hold the ceremony and/or wedding reception due to the coronavirus.
- Unavoidable cancellation of the wedding due to the death, injury, or sickness (including COVID-19) of the prospective marriage or civil partner, or close relatives (defined within the policy), which would mean that having or continuing with the wedding and/or wedding reception would be impossible.
- The caterers for the wedding being unable to provide the service for or at the wedding due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at their premises.
WeddingPlan Insurance also has a dedicated FAQ page, which answers some questions related to COVID-19. With regard to additional costs arising from cancellation or postponement due to COVID-19-related government restrictions, the insurer says: “Your policy covers you for unrecoverable costs in the event you need to make a claim for cancellations or rearrangement… Your claim would need to be as a result of something which is specifically covered (an insured event) under [the cancellation and rearrangement] section and is not otherwise excluded or outside the limits of your policy you purchased. For rearrangement specifically, we would cover a cost up to but not exceeding 25% more than the original invoice.”
For cancellations due the bride, groom, or a close relative testing positive for the coronavirus, the company says: “Your policy provides cover for the death, injury, or sickness of you or your close relative, which would make continuance of the wedding inappropriate. You would need to provide evidence of a diagnosed COVID-19 infection and details of why the continuance of the wedding is inappropriate.”