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Archive for Sunday, July 29, 2001

Big Day coverage

Insurance can help settle wedding jitters

July 29, 2001

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With this insurance, I thee wed.

A rained-out reception. A no-show photographer. A damaged dress. Not all weddings go off without a hitch. To guarantee a wedding without worries, the altar-bound are vowing that wedding insurance is the way to go.

Here's what is covered or not:

Bridal gown mishap? You're covered for emergency repair or a new dress.

Jilted at the altar? Professional counseling for the bride or groom will be paid.

Radioactive contamination? Loss or damage due to a nuclear disaster will not be reimbursed.

Tornado blows in? Nonrefundable deposits and costs will be reimbursed because of weather postponement.

Wedding photog a no-show? All expenses to recreate the original scene will be covered.

Wedding gifts gone? Presents that are lost, stolen or damaged at the reception will be paid for.

Lose the ring? Lost or damaged wedding bands are covered.

Cold feet? Cancellation of the ceremony by choice is not covered.

War or civil war? You will not be covered in the case of invasion, revolution or rebellion.

Various policies pay for all sorts of nuptial disasters sans a change of heart.

"We call that the cold-feet exclusion," said California-based Robert Nuccio, the sole administrator assigned to the Fireman's Fund "Weddingsurance" program.

Weather often drives insurance decisions.

"In Florida it's hurricanes, in Buffalo it's snow, and in Iowa it's tornadoes," Nuccio said. "You're putting a lot of money on the line. All sorts of things can go wrong: The facility burns down. The dress is destroyed. These are all things that have happened. It's wild what goes on."

For richer, for poorer exchanging nuptials is expensive business. The average wedding in the United States costs $20,000, Nuccio said.

"If something happens," he said, "what are you going to do, give the bride and groom $500 to go to Vegas?"

Weddingsurance policies start at $195 and, depending on the premium, compensate holders up to the coverage limit for cancellation due to sickness of the bride, groom or immediate family, weather conditions and a host of other "reasons beyond your control."

It's not a huge moneymaker for the insurance company.

"We have to pay out fairly often," Nuccio said.

Coverage believers

Among the newlyweds saying "I do" to wedding insurance is North Miami Beach bride-to-be Charyn Behrens.

The 30-year-old MCI WorldCom support consultant is planning a small 30-person outdoor wedding on the beach. The couple has several family members flying in from all over the country.

"My biggest concern is weather. I mean it's Florida in hurricane season," Behrens said. An events coordinator advised Behrens to look into wedding insurance.

"I had never heard of it. But when I looked at it, it seemed like a pretty reasonable deal."

For $128, Behrens purchased a policy that will give her up to $7,500 in coverage.

"It takes the worrying out of a wedding," she said.

Tales of a missing photographer, a disappearing caterer, a torn gown and even a lost ring are just the icing on the cake, said newlywed Tom Capo Bianco.

This summer, he was left without a venue for his wedding.

Now for better or for worse, Capo Bianco says wedding insurance is a decent proposal.

His big day was just weeks away. An elaborate $45,000 ceremony and reception with 150 guests was to take place at a bed and breakfast on the water in Onset, Mass. The groom and his bride, Tia, had spent more than a year planning all the details. As the day drew closer, they were having trouble getting in touch with the manager of the place where the event was to be conducted.

The manager had skipped town with their $5,000 deposit.

Four other couples, who had planned to wed there, also lost their money.

"He disappeared. We had 150 people coming, and no place to hold the wedding," Capo Bianco said. "We panicked. My wife was livid."

But, Capo Bianco said, "I was patting myself on the back."

The investment manager had bought a $339 wedding insurance policy and was refunded his lost deposit. He used the insurance reimbursement to throw the wedding at a country club a few miles away.

"What a relief," he recalled.

The concept originated in England and made its way to the United States in the early 1990s.

Last year, newlyweds Roger and Karen Sandau launched WedSafe. The insurance company, based in Monterey, Calif., offers tailored policies in two packages.

The first protects against cancellation or mishaps that might happen to the bride and groom's property, such as rings and attire. The policy ranges from $128 to $339 and covers $7,500 to $50,000.

The other is a $150 policy that pays out $1 million in liability and $75,000 in damage to the owners of the properties where the weddings and receptions occur.

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