Wedding Insurance and Coronavirus - What Do I Need To Know?
There has been a huge increase in wedding insurance enquires in recent months as a result of the continued spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.
Many couples are naturally concerned about the impact of the potential spread of the disease and the effect this may have on their wedding plans. Not only is there the emotional investment that has gone in to planning the big day, but there are usually some large deposits at risk too.
Whilst we're unable to comment on wedding insurance policy specifics or whether any particular policy or insurer would or wouldn't cover a particular set of circumstances, we can look at the situation in general terms and how wedding insurance might help.
What if we're forced to change our wedding plans?
If there's an issue with the venue, for example they cancel or, if there's a local 'outbreak of infectious or contagious disease' there, you may be covered by your wedding insurance for cancellation or rearrangement. The important thing here is 'local' - terms like this can be found in many wedding insurance policies but were more likely written more with isolated outbreaks in mind, rather than to cover large-scale epidemics or pandemics and a wider 'ban' on weddings.
Any ban (specifically, a ban on public gatherings) is likely to be a 'Government Act' excluded in the small print of many wedding insurance policies.
If you need to change your wedding plans, speak with your venue and suppliers in the first instance and see if you can make arrangements to postpone your wedding to a later date. Most are being very accommodating although with so many couples having to change their plans, you may have to compromise and work around available dates.
If rearranging isn't possible, you may be entitled to a refund as a result of a 'frustrated contract' - the venue or supplier hasn't specifically cancelled but can't fulfil their contractual obligations for reasons beyond its control. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have published some great guidance on wedding services affected by COVID-19. It's definitely worth a read if you're running into issues here.
Where payments were made using a credit card, you may also have a claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
If you've exhausted the above options then turn to your wedding insurance provider to see if you can make a claim under your policy.
What if one of our family members is ill?
Where weddings are able to go ahead, if you or a close relative is ill and unable to attend on the day, you may have cover under your wedding insurance policy.
What if one of our suppliers has gone out of business?
Following an exceptionally difficult year and, with the industry having lost an estimated £430 million as a result of cancelled or postponed weddings in December 2020 alone, many suppliers are struggling.
If one of your suppliers has unfortunately ceased trading consider making a Section 75 claim or, failing that, turn to your wedding insurer to try and recover any lost payments.
What if we choose to not go ahead with the wedding?
Whether your wedding is here in the UK or abroad, if you choose to not go ahead with it due to concerns about Coronavirus, your wedding insurance policy is probably not going to cover you. This is a situation known as 'disinclination to marry' and is no different to simply changing your mind or getting 'cold feet'.
What if there's a problem with our honeymoon?
Honeymoons are generally not covered by a wedding insurance policy. You'll need separate travel insurance for that.
The same logic applies though as choosing not to go ahead with your wedding. If there's specific Government advice to avoid travel to that country or region, then you may be covered by your travel insurance policy. If you choose not to go though, then it's likely you wont be able to make a claim.
When will wedding insurance be available again?
Many UK wedding insurance providers haven't been selling new policies since mid-March while they assess the impact of the virus and potential claims arising from it. Existing policyholders are unaffected though and their policies are still valid. We're not certain when the general sale of wedding insurance will resume - this is dependent on the underwriters reviewing risk and potentially adjusting new policy premiums and terms to reflect that.
Where providers are still selling new policies, this is clearly indicated on our wedding insurance comparison table.
Covermywedding: policies available to buy.
Wedinsure: policies available to buy.
Debenhams Wedding Insurance: Temporarily not available.
Dreamsaver: Temporarily not available.
Emerald Wedding Insurance: Temporarily not available.
Insurance Emporium: Temporarily not available.
John Lewis Wedding Insurance: Temporarily not available.
Weddingplan: Temporarily not available
Wedding Insurance Solutions: Temporarily not available
What are the current rules on weddings?
At the time of writing, weddings ceremonies are able to take place in all four UK nations, albeit with a significantly limited number of guests.
Wedding ceremonies with up to 15 attendees can be held in areas in Tiers 1, 2 and 3. Those working at the venue are not included in that number.
Receptions and celebrations, again with up to 15 attendees, can take place in Tier 1 and Tier 2. However, receptions should not be attended by guests from a Tier 3 area.
Where Tier 4 'Stay at home' restrictions apply (as is currently the case for the whole of England), receptions must not take place and ceremonies are limited to just 6 people.
Update - 8/2/21: There is now light at the end of the tunnel with the Prime Minister announcing today that he hopes to lift all legal limits on social contact from 21st June 2021 meaning weddings and receptions could return to normal by the summer.
Wedding ceremonies and receptions can take place in Level 0, 1, 2 and 3 areas. In Level 4 areas, only ceremonies are permitted. Numbers are limited to 50 in level 0, 20 in Levels 1, 2 and 3, and 5 people in Level 4.
The number of guests that can be safely allowed for indoor ceremonies should be determined by the venue. 15 people can attend indoor receptions and 30 outdoors.
Where Level 4 restrictions apply, ceremonies may still take place, however, receptions are not permitted.
The number of guests allowed at ceremonies and receptions is generally determined by the venue. However, there is currently a temporary maximum of 25 people allowed at ceremonies. This number includes children under 12 and the celebrant. There is also a temporary ban on receptions.
Obviously, this is a rapidly developing situation and we will keep this page updated as more information is available. As always, please read specific wedding insurance policy wording carefully and speak to your insurer if you're worried about a particular situation being covered.
This article was first published on 4th March 2020. The most recent update was on 22nd February 2021.
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