Find out what it covers and slash costs
Weddings and civil partnerships are an expensive and emotional business – the right rings, perfect outfits, dream venue – and that's before the food, cake and guests. With potentially huge costs you should carefully consider if you need insurance. This guide explains what it covers and how to get a cheap policy.
What is wedding insurance?
In a nutshell, it's an optional policy that gives you protection if certain things were to go wrong with your wedding plans, eg, a problem with the venue or a supplier, or a key wedding party member falling ill.
This can cover the run up to the big day, or on the day itself. Though a change of heart or cold feet won't count.
What does wedding insurance typically cover?
All wedding insurance policies are different so always check the small print. But as a rule of thumb, here's what a policy would usually cover:
- The wedding or reception venue goes bust or cancels on you. This is often covered under 'cancellation cover' as it almost always means the wedding is off. Any successful claim would usually be paid in cash so you can rearrange to a similar standard.
- A supplier lets you down. If you don't get the item/service from a pre-booked supplier (eg, florist, photographer), or it's damaged, you'll be covered for any deposits you've paid out and additional costs you incur. Make sure you get written agreement or a contract, and check which suppliers are covered by the insurer, as it can vary.
- You cancel because key people can't make it due to illness, jury service, accident or death – unless due to a pre-existing condition. This applies to the couple getting married or someone in the wedding party (close family, the bridesmaids or best man) as long as any illness wasn't caused by a pre-existing condition. Some insurers also provide cover if 50%+ of your guests can't make the wedding because of serious weather conditions, which causes you to postpone.
- Lost, stolen or accidentally damaged wedding rings, flowers, cake, outfits and gifts. Cake and flowers are usually covered up until the start of the reception, unless stolen whilst left unattended or damaged due to poor packaging during transit. Wedding bands are typically covered a week before the wedding and up to 24 hours after, but engagement rings are excluded so consider adding these to your home insurance.
Wedding attire (eg, dress, suits) is covered for repair or replacement if lost or damaged in your possession. If bought, cover usually starts from the date you buy the policy or, if hired, 24 hours before.
Wedding gifts are covered as long as they haven't been left unattended. Though maximum value limits of around £250 per gift can apply and some policies exclude cash/cheques. Cover usually applies up to one month before and 24 hours after the wedding date.
What does wedding insurance typically exclude?
Watch out, though: the following are often NOT covered by standard wedding insurance policies:
- If you decide you no longer want to get married. In typically dry small-print language, it's called a 'disinclination to get married' in the T&Cs of your policy.
- Cancellation if only a small part of the day goes wrong. Say only the wedding cake is damaged. You'll get your money back for the cost of the cake but you won't be covered for anything else, ie, you cancel the wedding as a result.
- Cancellation or changes due to Covid-19. New policies will almost certainly exclude any claim as a result of the coronavirus, or any, pandemic, eg, having to cancel due to government restrictions, or having to limit the number of guests that can attend.
- Cancellation due to financial difficulty, other than redundancy. If you can no longer afford to pay for the wedding and need to cancel, you're usually only covered if it's due to redundancy. Though there may still be restrictions, such as needing the policy to be in place more than eight weeks before you lost your job.
- If bad weather ruins the experience. If heavy rain or a thunderstorm ruins your event, standard policies are unlikely to cover this. However, if you've an elaborate outdoor ceremony and want protection, specialist policies may be available via brokers.
- Marquees on your own or hired land. This is unlikely to be covered as standard, though some policies will provide this as an optional extra – often covering damage to the structure, any staging, chairs, tables, lighting and flooring.
Do I need wedding insurance?
You've popped the question, they've said yes (hoorah!) and now it's time to start planning and paying for the big day. But with some weddings costing £10,000s, should you fork out for insurance to cover it? Ultimately any policy is optional, so you'll need to weigh up whether the cost is worth it for you. But here are some key points to consider:
- Only get wedding insurance if you'd be left out of pocket if something went wrong. If you choose to buy a policy, the kind you need will depend on how much you're spending and what kind of wedding you've planned (see our 50 Cheap Wedding Tips for ways to save). If you could easily rearrange it on your own, then wedding insurance isn't a must.
However, if the financial and emotional stress of rearranging would be too much, insurance is worth considering. Venue cancellation and supplier failure are the two main reasons people buy wedding insurance, with typical prices from £19 for UK weddings costing £2,500 and £300+ for a £100,000 wedding. It's usually more if the wedding is abroad.
- Paying by credit card gives some free protection but isn't a substitute for insurance. Anything bought worth between £100.01 and £30,000 on a credit card is covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which makes the card provider liable if something goes wrong. Even if you only pay a deposit (eg, for the venue) by credit card and the rest in cash you're still covered for the whole cost.
There's also a weaker chargeback scheme if you pay with debit card or under £100 for an item on a credit card. Yet neither of these cover certain elements that insurance does, such as someone falling ill or lost and stolen items.
- Using a trusted supplier lowers the risk. To lessen the risk of something going wrong and ruining your day, it's important you pick reliable companies when you put your wedding together. If your venue is a multi-billion pound hotel chain you'll be less likely to worry about it going bust, though it's still not risk-free.
Get personal recommendations and do your research on suppliers, such as looking for online reviews. Other practical tips include scanning the MSE Forum for ideas and looking up local Facebook groups and forums for tips and recommendations. Hitched is a specific wedding forum worth checking out.
- Some home insurance policies boost contents cover a month around your wedding or civil partnership. Certain insurers provide a temporary uplift on the amount you're covered for at no extra cost to you, typically a 10-20% increase or a fixed amount, eg, £7,500. This isn't a substitute for wedding insurance as it only covers valuables inside the home such as wedding presents, but it's worth checking if your insurer offers it, and if you need to manually request it.
- Planning an extravagant stunt or fireworks? Hire a professional or pay extra for cover. If you're planning to mark your celebration with a special stunt, note that most wedding insurance won't provide cover for firework displays or where fire is involved.
Always check if it's included, or if it's available for a higher premium. Equally, you may not need to pay extra if you've hired a reputable firm with its own cover. A professional company will not only bring the know-how to make the display a success but will also carry its own public liability insurance, often with millions of pounds of cover, in case something does go wrong.
Wedding insurance need-to-knows
If you think wedding insurance is right for you, here are six key need-to-knows to understand before opting for a new policy.
The sooner you buy your wedding insurance the sooner you're covered, should something go wrong and you need to cancel, postpone or get a refund for one element of the wedding.
It doesn't cost any extra to book earlier and you can buy most policies from two years before the wedding date up until around a week, or sometimes 24 hours, before – even if you've already paid for deposits.
This means you'd be covered should the venue be destroyed in a fire a year before your wedding date, or if a serious illness set in for a family member six months before the ceremony.
Keep a record of everything you book in writing, make sure you have written agreements or contracts with your suppliers and get receipts for everything you pay for. You may need to dig these out when making a claim.
Jot down the dates of when each full payment is due, to ensure you don't lose deposits or lose track of suppliers.
3. A successful claim doesn't always mean cash in your pocket, the insurer may rearrange the wedding instead
Smaller mishaps, such as rotting flowers or ripped suits, usually trigger a single payout for the cost.
But if the problem's so severe – say, your venue has flooded – that the wedding has to be rearranged, then your insurer may instead arrange an alternative wedding, so you won't actually be paid any redress, it'll just sort out the new Big Day.
Notice the emphasis on the words usually and may, as there's no one definitive rule; it can vary by insurer.
Don't forget on any claim there's an excess to pay. For example, say your wedding flowers are a write-off when they arrive: you might typically be entitled to £2,000 cover but have to pay a £25 excess, so only get £1,975 back.
If you're shunning the possible rain-filled skies of Britain for sunnier climes – and need wedding insurance abroad – ensure you check the terms of your policy so it covers you abroad, as not all do.
It can typically cost from about 10% extra but does vary.
It's also worth noting that for overseas weddings some parts of the policy might not be included – such as public liability for weddings in the United States or Canada – so always check the small print before you buy. Also see our Cheap Overseas Travel Tips to cut travel costs.
If you've got wedding insurance this WON'T cover you for your honeymoon. You'll need to buy separate travel insurance, as you would with any holiday.
And like with any trip, always buy cover as soon as you book so it covers you for cancellation or anything else that might go wrong BEFORE your honeymoon. For full help and to find the best buys, see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide.
It's important to make sure that your wedding insurer is FCA-regulated so you're protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
If your insurer goes bust, the scheme will try to find another provider to take on your policy, or issue a substitute. However, if you have any ongoing claims, or need to make a claim before a new insurer is found, the FSCS should ensure you're covered financially.
How to find wedding insurance
If you've read through the need-to-knows and think wedding insurance is right for you, follow our step-by-step plan to getting the best possible cover for the best price.
Unfortunately many insurers have stopped selling new policies, due to coronavirus and the risk of cancellation but our steps to getting cover, including wedding insurance abroad, should help.
Step 1 is essentially the prep, then pick the best policy you can from steps 2-4, and see if you can get cashback on top (step 5).
Before you even start looking for wedding insurance policies, make a list of all the things you're planning to spend money on, to get the total cost. It's vital you do this anyway for your budgeting, but insurers put their different types of cover into bands, depending on the total cost of the wedding.
It's important to get it right so you're not left under-covered. Say you break your £20,000 budget and spend £30,000 but were only insured for the original sum; if you had to cancel, you'd only be covered for two-thirds of the cost.
To avoid this, ensure you tell your insurer if the cost rises unexpectedly during the planning stages, though you may have to pay to increase the cover level. Don't include items you won't need insurance for, though: if you plan to settle a large drinks bill run up on the day, leave it out of your costing.
A useful starting point is CompareWeddingInsurance.org.uk, as this zips your details to a number of insurer and broker websites to find the cheapest quotes (though the range is currently very restricted due to the pandemic and insurer's not selling new policies).
Always check the policy carefully to fully understand exactly what it does, and doesn't cover.
For example, when we checked, the few insurers that are still offering policies all exclude cover for coronavirus, eg, you wouldn't be covered if your ceremony or reception couldn't proceed due to Covid-19 restrictions, or if social distancing measures limit the number of guests that can attend.
If you have positive or negative experiences with those still insuring, please let us know.
If you've time, brokers can give advice on what policy to pick, and they often have connections with various insurers so might be able to offer you a special deal.
Your best option will be to find a broker who's a member of the British Insurance Brokers' Association, who'll be able to help you find the right product.
Once you know your cheapest price, hunt down any cashback deals. If you're new to cashback sites, make sure you read our Top Cashback Sites guide for pros and cons before using them.
How to complain about your insurance provider
The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer-service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others.
Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but, if not, then…
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