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Insure before you say ‘I do’

By Jay MacDonald ·
Friday, May 6, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Planning a June wedding? Don't forget to insure it!

According to the Insurance Information Institute, by the time you've finished paying for the flowers, rings, parties and pictures, the average American wedding costs $16,000. That means you've likely bet $3,000-$6,000 in nonrefundable deposits that your big day will come off as planned.

If there's a wedding in your future, look closely at wedding insurance in case your "I dos" don't come off as planned.

Wedding insurance is a cost-effective way to hedge your financial risk.

"It protects the nonrefundable expenses, cancelation due to serious illness, injury, extreme weather, a missing caterer, a missing officiate, a bankrupt event facility. Even postponement; weather can play a big part in that," says Janet Ruiz of Fireman's Fund, which has offered wedding coverage since the 1990s.

Fireman's Wedsure website offers cafeteria coverage for liability, special attire, cancelation-postponement, loss of deposits, gifts, jewelry, photography-video coverage and rental property, with policies starting at $95.  

What could go wrong? Wedsure's claims department lists 10 real-life mishaps:

  1. A tornado rendered the venue uninhabitable: $35,000.
  2. The rings were stolen out of the groom's home: $15,352.
  3. The seamstress lost the bridal gown: $3,412.
  4. The tuxedos were double rented: $2,278.
  5. A drunk guest got into an auto accident: $500,000.
  6. The photographer's car was stolen with the camera and wedding photos: $15,000.
  7. The reception venue went out of business: $8,500.
  8. The disc jockey went out of business: $1,257.
  9. The wedding gifts were stolen at the reception: $12,300.
  10. Bridesmaid left a candle burning in the dressing room and the facility caught fire: $150,000.

Two years ago, Fireman's added "cold feet" coverage in the event the bride or groom have second thoughts. There's even a professional counseling rider for the party jilted party at the altar. But change-of-heart coverage only applies if the wedding is called off 180 days in advance, and only covers money spent by "innocent party financiers," i.e., the parents.

"People think of the runaway bride, but what normally happens is, if people are going to bow out of a wedding, they usually do it a few months ahead of time," says Ruiz. "That's a much more normal occurrence and it does happen. I think parents would usually pay for that coverage."

The III recommends you purchase homeowners insurance before the wedding to protect your wedding gifts as well as your luggage while you're away on your honeymoon. If you're taking your wedding rings and other jewelry along with you, be sure to purchase floater coverage, and be sure it will protect your jewels if you're honeymooning in a foreign country.

Once you return, be sure to combine your auto insurance policies to take advantage of the multi-car discount as well as your newly-married status, which is sure to lower your rates.

A wedding is one of life's great milestones. Wedding insurance can remove some of the financial worries so you can savor your big day.

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