I’ve seen passing references to wedding insurance. Is this really necessary?

Wedding insurance policies typically provide coverage for non-refundable deposits, wedding photographs, attire, gifts and jewelry, damage to rented property or serious disasters that may delay a wedding, such as a death or illness of a family member or member of the bridal party and all types of natural disasters.

It is important, however, to note that each company's policies are different, so even though these items are typically covered, it's up to you to be sure you are very clear on what is and is not covered on your policy. Some policies are "a la carte" style, where you can pick and choose what is covered, so obviously, there's no standard of coverage on something like that.

Having said that, here are the basics. These policies typically can cover up to around $2,000,000 in personal liability if the couple becomes legally responsible for bodily injury or property damage during the wedding or reception.

A standard package policy should cost less than $200. By definition, the wedding insurance cancellation or postponement coverage will pay up to the coverage limit that you select and is subject to a $250 deductible, the nonrefundable expenses incurred when the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding or private event, reception or honeymoon, which must be cancelled or postponed for certain reasons beyond your control (this excludes a "change of heart," so don't make any plans on leaving your honey at the altar "just for the money!").

Coverage also includes sickness or injury to the bride, groom or anyone essential to the wedding, damage or inaccessibility to the premises where the wedding is to be held, loss or damage to the bridal gown, corporate or military foreign posting and job loss.

Adverse weather conditions can prevent the bride, groom or a relative whose presence at the wedding is essential or, the majority of the guests from arriving at the wedding location. This unpredictable factor is also covered by most policies. However, the weather coverage is often available only if the policy is purchased 14 or more days from the date of the event.

If the minister (or whoever is committed to performing the ceremony) fails to show up at the wedding, it is deemed a "failure to show" and covered for cancellation or postponement. Closure of the ceremony site or reception site due to "financial failure" is also covered by cancellation or postponement policies. Additional expense coverage will often pay up to 25% of the cancellation limit you select for any additional expenses necessary to arrange alternative services to avoid a covered cancellation or postponement of the wedding.

Is it right for you?
This is the beauty of not getting wedding insurance information from a wedding insurance provider. I'm not going to tell you that wedding insurance is right for everyone, because it's not.

Ultimately, you need to decide whether it's right for you, but here are some guidelines.

In general, the larger the wedding, the more of a good idea wedding insurance becomes. After all, if you're planning a $50,000 - $60,000 shindig, and you can get $20,000 worth of coverage for about $150-$400, it just makes good financial sense.

On the other hand, if you're planning a small, intimate little ceremony followed by a casual reception at your house; your Aunt Dorothy is giving you flowers from her garden as your wedding gift and you're making your own wedding cake because you love to bake, then wedding insurance isn't really going to do a lot for you.

If, like most people, you fall somewhere in between those ends of the spectrum, you need to assess your financial commitment and your comfort level with the idea that things can (and DO) go wrong on occasion.

A Note about Insurance and Wedding Gifts
It only makes sense to protect your wedding presents. So as soon as they begin to arrive at your door, alert your homeowners or renters insurance agent so you can take appropriate measures. Ask about writing a wedding present "floater" for the day gifts arrive. Such a floater can remain in effect up to 90 days past the wedding date.

It's also a good idea to take a detailed inventory of all the gifts you receive with supporting photos or videotape. (In fact, this is a good thing to have for anything of value in your home, just in case you need to make a claim on it). Maintain a list of gifts received, along with the name of the gift-giver. In the event of a loss, you may need to go back to that person and ask them the cost/value of the item.

A final note on rings: Be sure to insure them! Most homeowners and renters policies require additional documentation to insure valuable jewelry. This would include appraisal documentation that includes a photo of the jewelry. Some type of disasters may already be covered under homeowners insurance policies or by the vendors themselves. Ask your vendor if you are covered by a disaster insurance. But if you choose to get a wedding insurance policy, you can just bypass the hassle with endorsements to your home or renters policy. After the honeymoon, and when the dust has settled, don't forget to make sure all your valuable items are accounted for and are properly insured for the long haul.

Some Common Questions:
When is the best time to purchase coverage?
As soon as you know the date of your wedding. Many policies can’t be purchased at the last minute. Also, any expenses or commitments that you make are then covered by the policy. So there’s really no reason to wait.

What isn’t typically covered?
Circumstances known to you when you took out the policy.

A change of heart
Lack of funds
The deductible

Items of consideration before selecting an insurance policy:
General information about the company supplying coverage, including how long it has been in existence and where it is based.
You may find it worth using an independent insurance consultant who offers policies from a range of insurance companies, at the same or cheaper price as the big-name direct-sell insurance giants.

Questions you should ask before buying an insurance policy:
Will the coverage apply outside the U.S.? (if this is a consideration for your wedding or honeymoon)
What specifically is covered? Wedding gifts? Honeymoon? Rings? Limousine? Damage to attire? Photographs? No-show vendors? And under what circumstances are these things covered? If a particular coverage is not included, is it available at an extra charge?
Is there a deductible?
How would I make a claim?
How long does it typically take for a claim to be resolved?