COVID-19 is making headlines all over the world, leading to travel bans and the cancellation of major events. If you’re planning your own event, say a wedding, you’re probably wondering if wedding cancellation insurance will cover you if the virus causes you to have to cancel or postpone the event. The short answer is that if you bought insurance before
the outbreak started, you should be fine. If you’re shopping for wedding insurance now, it won’t cover COVID-19.
With large events being cancelled left and right these days as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, governments advising citizens not to travel, and news outlets warning about shortages related to the outbreak, a lot of young Canadians who are planning weddings this Spring and Summer are freaking out…maybe not about the virus itself, but about whether it will throw off the delicate coordination of venues, vendors and guests that all have to come together to make the big day happen.
Wedding insurance has been available for years in Canada, and you can typically purchase a policy for a couple hundred dollars. With some weddings costing more than $50,000 or $100,000, the insurance can’t make the big day go off without a hitch, but it can ease the massive financial burden if it doesn’t.
Wedding insurance & COVID-19?
Because the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, it’s hard to say if your wedding insurance would cover you if you had to cancel or postpone your wedding due to circumstances related to the virus. Different insurance companies are taking different positions, but generally, the following applies:
- If you bought your wedding insurance before COVID-19 was a known threat, your insurance is likely to cover your losses if you have to cancel the wedding because the bride, groom or key guests or vendors fall ill with COVID-19, or if travel bans prevent key participants from attending.
- If you bought wedding insurance after COVID-19 was a known threat, you are probably out of luck if you have to cancel for reasons related to the virus. It would be excluded as a known risk. In many cases now, insurers are specifically excluding COVID-19 from policies being sold right now.
What’s normally covered by wedding insurance?
Here’s what a wedding insurance policy typically covers:
- Commercial general liability (including host liquor liability): This coverage is for the ceremony and reception, but can be extended to include rehearsal dinner, gift opening etc.
- Rented property: This covers you if you, your guests or your vendors cause damage to rented property used during the wedding reception. It includes, but is not limited to, temporary outdoor shelters, such as tents or marquees, tables and chairs, stages, audio and video equipment.
- Wedding cancellation: Reimbursement of deposits paid or contracted to be paid because of unexpected cancellation of the wedding (see exclusions below under “What’s Not Covered?”)
- Lost deposits: Will reimburse your deposits to vendors (venue, photographer, DJ) if they go bankrupt.
A wedding policy can also include coverage for things like:
- Your honeymoon costs if the wedding is cancelled;
- The cost of retaking photos/videos if the originals don’t turn out or if the photographer/videographer doesn’t show up;
- Damage to your wedding gown or other wedding attire;
- Loss, theft or damage to the wedding rings;
- Loss, theft or damage to wedding gifts;
You can even buy protection for your cake, flowers and stationery!
What’s not covered?
Like any insurance policy, a wedding policy has certain circumstances that are specifically not covered. These are called exclusions. Here are some typical exclusions related to the cancellation portion of the policy:
- Cancellation is not covered if the bride or groom gets cold feet.
- Cancellation isn’t covered if one or multiple participants die or are rendered unable to attend due to self-inflicted injuries, sexually transmitted disease, alcoholism or drug abuse, insanity, hunting, flying (as the pilot), skydiving, cave diving or a number of other risky activities.
- Cancellation is not covered if it’s due to a terminal diagnosis, pregnancy or other condition that already existed prior to getting insurance.
- Cancellation is not covered if the bride and groom are proceeding with the wedding against the advice of a doctor.
Conditions of insurance
In addition to excluding the above circumstances, most wedding insurance policies require the bride and groom to take precautions to prevent a claim, like seeing a doctor if they’re sick, making alternate arrangements if a vendor fails to deliver etc.