If misfortune blights your troth, are you protected?

Melanie Bien reports on how to insure the cost of your wedding against disaster
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The Independent Online

As the wedding season gets into full swing, thousands of pounds are being spent on dresses, receptions and honeymoons. After all this expense and effort, wedding insurance may seem a cost too far - and a boring one at that - but it could turn out to be vital.

If the caterer goes out of business just before your big day, the best man loses the rings on his way to the church or the wedding has to be cancelled because of a bereavement in the family, you could lose a small fortune. The average wedding costs £15,000.

"A wedding is a major event to organise, and much as we don't like to think about it, the potential for things to go wrong is enormous," warns Lisa Martin of Debenhams Wedding Insurance. "By covering the huge amount of money they've committed with good-quality insurance, couples can have peace of mind, then get on and enjoy their wedding preparations."

Wedding cover is a one-off premium, the size of which depends on the cost of your nuptials. For example, the cheapest premium charged by My Wedding Insurance, which is owned by Inter Group Insurance Services (part of the Churchill group) is £40. This entitles you to a £3,000 payout if your wedding has to be cancelled for reasons beyond your control.

If your big day is costing the average £15,000, the premium comes to £175. This pays out £15,000 if the wedding is cancelled; £2,000 for damage to the dress; and £1,500 for loss of rings during the seven days prior to the nuptials and on the day itself.

Bear in mind, though, that you will have to pay a £250 excess when making a claim. And if the wedding is cancelled because of a "change of heart" by either bride or groom, you cannot claim on the policy.

As well as buying travel insurance for your honeymoon, you should ensure that your wedding is covered if you are getting married in another country. More than 20,000 couples tied the knot abroad last year, and with many of these taking expensive rings, clothes, gifts and photographic equipment with them to their destination, insurance is vital. A standard travel policy may not give you enough cover, so check to see what is included.

If you are getting married this summer, it is also worth checking your home contents insurance because the combination of being away on honeymoon and leaving expensive gifts in your home may make you vulnerable to thieves. The value of a typical wedding list can be anything between £1,000 and £6,000, depending on the number of guests, according to research by insurer More Th>n. So it is essential that you have enough contents cover in case you are burgled.

Some insurance companies - such as Lloyds TSB, Legal & General, More Th>n and AA Home Insurance - offer extra cover for wedding presents for up to a month before the day and a month afterwards. But the level of cover differs: Lloyds TSB provides an additional £1,000-worth, while L&G, More Th>n and the AA increase your usual cover by 10 per cent.

Check with your insurer as to what, if any, extra protection is available. And if it doesn't provide added cover for free, find out how much it would cost to extend your existing policy.

You may find that you also have to insure particularly expensive items, such as wedding rings, separately because they go over your insurer's "single item" limit. Again, check with the company.

Contacts: Debenhams Wedding Insurance, 0870 774 4196 or www.debenhams.com; E&L Insurance, 08707 423710 or www.eandl.co.uk; My Wedding Insurance, 0870 243 0818 or www.myweddinginsurance.co.uk


How to minimise the chances of things going wrong

* Pay the deposits for the reception and wedding dress on credit, not debit, cards. A credit card issuer will have to refund you if the supplier goes out of business.

* Put in writing everything you expect from each supplier, together with what is included in the price and what isn't. This way, there should be no stressful last-minute disagreements.

* Ask the wedding or reception venue to put aside somewhere secure for guests to leave wedding gifts. Ask a friend or relative to look after them - and take them away at the end of the reception.

* Ask the photographer to take digital photos so they can be checked before he or she leaves.

* Have a contingency plan for outdoor weddings in case it rains.

Source: Debenhams Wedding Insurance

10 most common reasons for making a claim

* Damage to wedding attire.

* Retaking of photographs.

* Cancellation due to illness or bereavement in immediate family.

* Caterers failing to turn up at the reception.

* The wedding rings are lost.

* Wedding transport fails to turn up.

* Cancellation due to venue being double booked.

* Public-liability property damage.

* Wedding presents are lost or stolen.

* Supplier goes out of business.

Source: E&L Insurance

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