Friday 19 January 2018

Will you take a chance or say 'I do' to wedding insurance?

You can't think of everything and most eventualities can be covered, but you get what you pay for says Roisin Burke

IRISH rugby icon Brian O'Driscoll, who is getting married just five days after the Irish team's Australia tour this summer, joked in a recent interview that his fiancee Amy Huberman is worried he'll show up at their wedding with a black eye. The way he gets bashed around in games, Amy might be googling wedding insurance options ahead of the big day, just in case the tour Down Under results in more serious damage than a shiner.

Wedding insurance has been heavily marketed in recent years as insurance companies looked to diversify into lucrative new product areas.

Part of the appeal is that starting prices for cover are small -- from around €50, and going up to over €300. In the scheme of what a wedding costs, some couples think it's a small price to pay for piece of mind, particularly if the wedding is setting them back €20,000 or so.

There are many things that wedding insurance doesn't cover, like any impact from the volcanic ash cloud, or industrial action such as the recent passport office dispute, but calamities like your hotel, florist or bridal wear shop going bust, or one of you getting made redundant, can be insured.

Adverse weather events are covered, so a wedding affected by the major flooding and snow events of a few months back could have been protected.

With a slew of wedding supplier businesses collapsing, wedding insurance claims are on the rise, up 10 per cent in a year, according to Blue Insurances's figures.

"Liquidations and bankruptcy are our most common sources of claims these days," said Blue's Ciaran Mulligan. Unexpected hotel closure is a growing claims source. With the glut of zombie hotels and speculation that Nama might shut down the ones it acquires, a premium that covers wedding venue cancellation might appeal to couples who are worried about their deposits and venue bookings.

"Redundancy is the other big source of claims," Mr Mulligan added. It's not a feature of every policy, but several insurers provide for it.

Before hotels began to fail, bridal shops going under was the big claim source, Mulligan says.

When 28-year-old Louise Carey was getting married a year-and-a-half ago, she bought her dress in a Dublin bridal shop. She was glad she had wedding insurance when the shop ceased trading. "At least I was able to make an insurance claim for the €500 deposit I had paid," she said. "It took a while, but I got that money back."

That said, money just can't compensate for the really terrible things that can go wrong on the big day, wedding planner Kate Deegan argues. "The wedding dress getting damaged on the day, the band not showing up, the photographer doing a bad job -- no money makes up for that. I'm not sure if there's a point in getting insurance for what it covers." She says few of her clients have taken it out.

However, planner Linda McAllorum recommends it to all of her clients. "I do advise them heavily to take it, and most do. You never know what's going to go wrong," she said.

Another bride, Susan, who married this month, said she and her husband had decided against wedding insurance. "We felt that a lot of the important things were already covered under our existing insurance policies, so we didn't opt for it. We had travel insurance for our honeymoon and my dress and other items were covered by a 90-day purchase protection on my credit card."

Like socialite Lisa Murphy and her solicitor beau Gerald Kean, who are said to be travelling abroad to tie the knot, many Irish couples opt for foreign nuptials. Some standard wedding insurance policies provide for it at no extra cost, but going abroad can limit what the policy covers. For example, in the US and Canada most of the normal policy provisions will apply, but the personal liability aspect won't.

If a supplier, like a hotel or a DJ, lets you down, you have to pursue compensation with them first, before the insurance option would apply.

"It's not a case of sit back and relax and make your claim," said Mr Mulligan. "You do have to approach the supplier or the liquidator first. But then usually we will be the next port of call."

It's worth looking at the limit on payout amounts carefully to see if wedding insurance is worthwhile. On cheaper policies the amount of compensation for, say, the wedding gifts being stolen or damaged, could work out at just a fraction of the actual value of the gifts, and the amount you get for cancellation expenses could be as little as a quarter of your total wedding expenses.

A marquee wedding will command an additional premium on most policies, as the public liability costs are higher.

Whether you choose to go for insurance or not, you can help protect yourself from hassle and expense by sussing out your venue, vendors and suppliers thoroughly, possibly by checking out their status on the Companies Registrations Office website.

It's also worth leaving as much as you can to pay on the day where possible.

Sunday Independent

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