The wedding bells may be silent but don't forget the insurance - Conal Gregory

Traditionally, post-Easter is one of the most popular times of the year to hold weddings but this year will be different with all weddings in the UK banned because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The wedding industry has been hit by the pandemic.

When the ban is eventually lifted, it is estimated that the average cost of the special day is now £31,974, according to the digital wedding planner, Hitched, which estimates £13bn is spent annually on weddings.

In the current circumstances, it would be foolhardy to proceed without insurance protection.

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In its National Wedding Survey of 2,800 couples, Hitched reveals that the major costs are venue hire (£5,406), food (£3,887), engagement ring (£2,419), drink (£1,587) and wedding attire (£1,313).

No wonder that three in five couples need financial help from their families, which is significantly up on just over half in 2017.

The traditional approach that the bride’s parents pick up the entire costs applied in just five per cent of cases.

Insurers who offer specialist policies have suspended cover, largely because the key twin elements of cancellation and the failure of suppliers are highly likely to be invoked. An experienced, qualified independent financial broker should be able to help.

Often weddings are planned more than a year forward and so, once the current virus problems are over, it is highly likely such well thought-out policies will become available again.

John Lewis, for example, has one underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance which offers up to £50,000 against loss or damage and the same sum for failure of suppliers.

Until then, there are other ways to protect. Look carefully at your home contents policy, notably both for cover in and out of the property.

Basic policies may not protect away from the named address. Saga, for instance, excludes protection away from home under its ‘essential’ policy but can provide it as an optional extra. It is included under its higher level cover.

Check also on the single article limits that apply and where you feel they are insufficient, increase the levels.

Quite often the individual limit will depend on the total contents insured.

Analysis by independent researcher Defaqto, specially for The Yorkshire Post, reveals the highest single article limits:

Aviva PlusPremium £50,000 (assuming £100,000 overall)

LV= (formerly Liverpool Victoria) via broker £30,000 (assuming £150,000 overall).

In all cases, such individual articles need to be specified and named on the policy. The LV= rate is 20 per cent of the total contents cover. Defaqto have also unveiled fixed limits of £15,000 are available from AXA Direct (HomeSafe and Extra), Hastings Direct, Hiscox, Marks and Spencer (Platinum) and Tesco Bank.

Insurers will expect detailed descriptions when higher limits on individual articles are required and supported by professional third parties where appropriate.

For example, an engagement ring should be detailed in its valuation which should have been prepared by a recognised member of an organisation like the National Association of Jewellery or Gemmological Association which requires fellows to have passed its certificate examination.

The valuation should be the replacement price and not necessarily the negotiated sale cost. It should fully describe the jewellery and give any hallmarking information.

If going abroad for the honeymoon, take such paperwork and a photograph to show on re-entry to the UK that the purchase was effected here. Quite often jewellers offer insurance which may be useful.

Similarly, watches or other jewellery need to be fully described and for values to be current. This can be overlooked if an article is an inheritance gift.

Jewellery and similar items need to be protected under the ‘valuables’ section of a contents policy .

Unless hired, wedding attire should be specified to insurers. The wedding dress may not be Carolina Herrera or Alexander McQueen but still needs to be protected, notably for theft and damage such as red wine spilt at the reception.

A spillage at home would be covered under the ‘accidental damage’ section and in many cases there would be no single article limit but just a collective sum.

Away from the property, quite low limits may apply – such as £1,500 with Ageas (also branded as Rias) and £2,000 with LV= – unless items are specified.

Increasingly prospective brides are purchasing two outfits for the key day. The fashion platform, Lyst, says this applies in 23 per cent of cases with the second outfit for the evening or for departing the event.

If any clothing is hired, insurance should not normally be your concern as the supplier will include it as part of the contract.

Do not overlook protecting wedding gifts. Once notified of the wedding date, many good insurers will automatically increase the total sum assured in the home by 10 per cent for 30 days either side of the day. They include Churchill and Direct Line (depending on the level of cover), LV=, Nationwide, Newcastle Building Society and NFU Mutual.

Newcastle’s policy is underwritten by Fairmead Insurance, formerly known as Legal & General. In turn, Fairmead is now a subsidiary of Allianz.

Saga has even more generous terms. It includes a ‘wedding increase’ of 20 per cent on both its levels of cover which applies for a month either side for anyone permanently living in the policyholder’s home.

The same concession applies for a birthday or anniversary. However, this is for property whilst in the home, not taken outside it.

This can therefore be a substantial uplift. In NFU Mutual’s case, the uplift can mean £30,000 for its ‘Bespoke’ policy holders to provide “peace of mind when customers might have more expensive items in their homes”, says their high net worth expert, Nick Wilmot.

One area that may be overlooked is a marquee used as the venue for the wedding meal.

Only a few policies are sufficiently wide-ranging to include damage to a construction which has been hired. NFU Mutual provides cover up to £50,000 which includes for the staging, flooring, chairs, lighting and other ancillary equipment.

Wherever possible, pay using a credit card so that the money spent can be reimbursed.

If a supplier lets you down for whatever reason, perhaps with wedding attire or printed stationery, provided the cost was £100-30,000, quote the Consumer Credit Act 1975, section 75, but the payee has to be the first named credit card holder.

An additional protection is provided under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Under this legislation, anything supplied that is faulty can be rejected within 30 days.

Finally, consider the excess which is the first amount you have to fund in any claim.

This may be low, such as £50 with Nationwide, but lower or higher levels can often be obtained which will alter the premium.

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