Like many fathers of the bride, I've been watching my budget and writing checks to cover the caterer, the bartenders, the venue space, the flowers, the wedding cake and so much more. I've been fixated on details ranging from invitations and stamps to table decor and seating chart signs.
Liability insurance protection in case of calamities on the big day?
Not even on my radar screen. I thought my homeowner's policy and an umbrella liability policy I carry for broader protection would be more than enough.
But at the suggestion of my very wise wife, I called my insurance agent to get her recommendation. I also asked a few friends whose daughters are married about any insurance experiences and researched some policies online that cover potential wedding disasters.
Not everyone needs extra liability coverage for a wedding, of course, especially if it is a small event, the venue has its own coverage and alcohol will be served by licensed and insured bartenders instead of by Uncle Billy.
But, if you want to breathe a little easier, you can get insurance coverage for just about anything that could ruin the wedding day. There are special-event liability policies that, for example, pay for damages caused by a drunken guest or if you're hit with a lawsuit stemming from a car accident.
Insurers also sell separate wedding policies -- or attach an endorsement to an existing liability policy -- to reimburse you in case the reception hall goes out of business, the alcohol vendor doesn't show or the reception is canceled.
As my insurance agent said, there are "no what ifs" with these types of policies because the coverage generally is broader than what's on your homeowner's policy or even an umbrella liability policy that covers very large claims.
With few exceptions, however, insurance for weddings doesn't cover cold feet or a change of heart.
Many Insurance companies sell special event policies, and for more than just weddings. As the name implies, this coverage is generally for events held at a facility separate from your home. It could be weddings, graduation parties, bar mitzvahs, church outings and retirement parties.
For weddings, these special policies generally start around $100 for minimum coverage and can exceed $1,000 depending on the size of your wedding reception.
Among the most common wedding insurance claims are vendor issues, illness or injury, and extreme weather issues, according to a report by NerdWallet that quoted data from Travelers Insurance. Some common claims include a florist who goes bankrupt and doesn't refund your deposit, a caterer who doesn't show up and a seamstress who loses the gown.
Before making your decision, do some homework and ask questions. Start by reading the contract you have with the venue and vendors, especially the caterer and the bar service. If they have their own liability coverage, ask what it does and does not cover? Does the reception hall require you to carry special liability coverage?
Look over your homeowners, umbrella coverage, or renters insurance policy to see whether existing liability insurance will cover you. Keep in mind, however, that a big claim against your homeowner's policy could jack up your premium come renewal time.
When it's all said and done, you may not need special insurance to cover the wedding. Your damage deposit just might do the trick in case a guest breaks a few things.
I opted to purchase a special-event policy to cover the day just in case something were to happen and I was sued or held accountable. It cost $185, far less than what I shelled out to buy stamps to stick on wedding invitations, the RSVPs and thank-you notes.