A VALENTINE'S Day is the most popular
time for lovers to propose. But once the roses have
wilted and the champagne bubbles burst, the serious
business of preparing for the big day has to start.
The average wedding costs more than £20,000
and that does not include the honeymoon.
Yet only 15% of couples choose to take out wedding
insurance. Insurers have paid out for many instances
of unexpected hitches befalling (temporarily) unhappy
couples: a baby brother finger-painting on a wedding
dress, the hotel where the reception was due to be
held burning down, and the caterer going out of business
before the wedding day.
There are a number of specialist insurers, including
Jackson Emms in Reading, Ecclesiastical Insurance
and Wedding Plan.
The most basic insurance starts at around £40
and covers cancellation due to illness, damage or
loss of wedding dresses, and theft of rings and presents.
If caterers, chauffeurs, photographers or other suppliers
let you down, you will also be covered. Public liability
cover, usually up to £2m, is also provided,
in case guests or staff injure themselves.
All the policies insure these areas. The difference
in the premiums depends on the maximum you can claim
in each section. The level of cancellation cover has
the biggest impact on premiums.
For the first time, wedding insurance is now available
on the High Street from Marks & Spencer. The M&S
policy has four levels of cover, starting at £54,
which includes £4,000 cancellation cover, rising
to £185 for the most expensive tier, with £15,000
The main differences between the M&S policies
and others available are that with M&S you are
fully covered for any loss, and there is free stress
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Other policies have an excess, meaning you have to
pay the first part of any claim yourself. Typically,
you have to pay the first £25 of any claim made
in each section. Liz Neild, of M&S, says: 'It
doesn't necessarily occur to a couple to insure themselves
for things going wrong. But you are committing a huge
amount of money, and you have to pay large deposits
well before the day.
None of the policies will cover you for cancellation
if the bride or groom has a change of heart. But ill-health
among the wedding party is a valid reason.
Debbie Smart, of Jackson Emms, says: 'Some policies
won't pay out if the illness arises from an existing
medical condition, but we do.'
Jackson Emms' policy starts at £48 and unusually
covers whether the wedding is here or abroad.
Ecclesiastical, which underwrites M&S's policy,
offers wedding insurance starting at £40, which
has a £3,000 limit for cancellation claims and
limits of £1,000 on most of the other sections.
Its most expensive package is £110.
Sarah Jane, 31, who runs Europe's only therapeutic
spa for horses, says: 'I was gutted when I found the
wine stains on my dress. I'd specifically designed
it so I would be able to wear it again. I was amazed
to find I was covered by the insurance. They paid
the exact amount of the dress and the dry-cleaning.'