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What does the coronavirus wedding ban mean for your wedding insurance?

Weddings have been banned under the latest government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19

What does the coronavirus wedding ban mean for your wedding insurance?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that all weddings are to be cancelled from 23 March, as part of new measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

This comes after several wedding insurers providers already stopped selling cover to new customers and some have excluded cancellation due to coronavirus as part of their terms.

John Lewis, Debenhams and Events Insurance are among the providers who have announced they will no longer be offering new wedding insurance policies for the time being.

Those who already have cover may find that it’s unchanged, but in some cases, cancellation due to coronavirus won’t be covered.

We asked 12 of the UK’s biggest wedding insurance providers how coronavirus is affecting their policies and what your rights are if your wedding gets cancelled.

We’ll update the story if and when policies change, or when additional insurers respond.

  • You can keep up to date on our latest advice on the coronavirus outbreak over on our coronavirus advice hub.


What if your wedding contravenes public gatherings rules?

Weddings have been banned, and all public gatherings of more than two people are also no longer permitted, according to the latest measures outlined by the Prime Minister on 23 March.

This new measure will be reviewed every three weeks. So weddings due to take place in the near future will, therefore, need to be cancelled – but insurance doesn’t tend to cover governmental regulations.

Here’s what we found when we looked at some of the biggest insurance providers:

Provider Policy
Debenhams Losses arising from prohibitive regulations by the government of any country are excluded.
Emerald Life Claims arising from government acts are excluded.
Events Insurance Government-regulated acts are excluded, which means there would be no cover if the government forces venues to close as part of a national ban or if it restricts the size of a gathering.
John Lewis Claims arising directly or indirectly from government regulation or act are excluded.
The Insurance Emporium No claims are covered when directly or indirectly caused by, happening through, in consequence of or contributed to by influenza, notifiable disease, virus, bacteria or contagion, or any derivation or variant thereof.
Wedinsure Claims directly or indirectly caused by government regulations or acts are excluded – this includes bans on social or public gatherings.

Are any wedding insurers still providing cover?

Debenhams, Events Insurance and John Lewis have stopped offering wedding insurance policies to new customers due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As of 8am on 19 March, Emerald Life and Wedinsure also stopped selling new policies. Emerald Life says it hopes to be back online as soon as possible.

To our knowledge, The Insurance Emporium is still selling new policies, but there are caveats that may restrict claims related to the pandemic.

Provider Policy
Debenhams All new Debenhams Wedding Insurance applications have been suspended while the impact of the virus is being assessed.
Emerald Life Suspended selling new policies as of 19 March 2020.
Events Insurance Suspended wedding package policy for the foreseeable future, pending full confirmation on the government’s stance on gathering and venue restrictions. It’s not able to process any new wedding insurance applications.
John Lewis Suspended new applications for wedding and event insurance while the impact of travel and public health advice around coronavirus is assessed.
The Insurance Emporium Still selling new policies, subject to a general exclusion in respect of notifiable diseases. This exclusion includes COVID-19, since it’s now an officially registered, notifiable disease in the UK. This position is being reviewed on a daily basis.
Wedinsure Suspended selling new policies as of 19 March 2020.

Will my existing wedding insurance change?

If you’ve already bought wedding insurance, the providers we’ve spoken to have all said the policies will remain in place and – for the most part – unchanged.

Provider Policy
Debenhams Existing customers’ policies will remain in place and unchanged.
Emerald Life Existing customers’ policies will remain in place and unchanged, except cover has been limited in relation to the bankruptcy of wedding suppliers so that Emerald Life doesn’t cover any bankruptcy within the first 10 days of taking the policy out.
Events Insurance Existing customers’ policies will remain in place and unchanged.
John Lewis Existing customers’ policies will remain in place and unchanged.
The Insurance Emporium Existing customers’ policies will remain in place and unchanged, however policies are subject to a general exclusion in respect of ‘notifiable diseases’. This exclusion includes COVID-19, since it’s now an officially registered notifiable disease in the UK.
Wedinsure Existing customers’ policies will remain in place and unchanged.

What if the venue or other services cancel on you?

Even if your event is able to go ahead, it may be that a service you’ve booked is unable to deliver what you’ve paid for.

In the first instance, you should try to come to some kind of agreement with the business itself. If that’s not possible, here’s what the insurers say:

Provider Policy
Debenhams Those with existing policies are covered if the booked venue for the wedding or wedding reception is unable to hold your wedding due to an outbreak of infectious or contagious disease; the total non-appearance on the wedding day of any booked and paid-for professional wedding services; the non-appearance of the officiating minister or registrar.
Emerald Life Doesn’t cover the bankruptcy of wedding suppliers within the first 10 days of taking the policy out. Otherwise, there is cover if a wedding services supplier goes bankrupt and there may be cover if a significant supplier fails to arrive on the day, which may allow for cancellation or rearrangement.
Events Insurance Advising people to speak to their suppliers and check their contracts. Events Insurance says venues and suppliers don’t want to lose out on bookings, and have generally been offering rearrangement options to people hoping to postpone.
John Lewis Those with existing policies should be covered for the booked venue for the wedding or wedding reception being unable to hold your wedding due to an outbreak of infectious or contagious disease, and the total non-appearance on the wedding day of any booked and paid-for wedding services.
The Insurance Emporium No claims are covered when directly or indirectly caused by, happening through, in consequence of or contributed to by influenza, notifiable disease, virus, bacteria or contagion, or any derivation or variant thereof.
Wedinsure Cover includes instances where the booked venue for the wedding or wedding reception is unable to hold the event due to an outbreak of infectious disease (eg coronavirus), or its closure by a relevant authority – except where the closure or their inability to hold your wedding is due to any form of government act or regulation.

What if travel to the wedding venue has been restricted?

The UK government has so far warned against all non-essential travel, but roads and the majority public transport services are currently still running.

If this changes, and your wedding has to be cancelled as a result, it’s unlikely that any wedding insurance policies will cover it:

Provider Policy
Debenhams Losses arising from prohibitive regulations by the government of any country are excluded.
Emerald Life Claims arising from government acts are excluded.
Events Insurance Government-regulated acts are excluded, which means there would be no cover if it restricts freedom of movement.
John Lewis Claims arising directly or indirectly from government regulation or act are excluded.
The Insurance Emporium No claims are covered when directly or indirectly caused by, happening through, in consequence of or contributed to by influenza, notifiable disease, virus, bacteria or contagion, or any derivation or variant thereof.
Wedinsure Claims directly or indirectly caused by government regulations or acts are excluded – this includes travel bans or restrictions.

What if the bride, groom or guests are ill or self-isolating?

The government is currently advising anyone who is showing COVID-19 symptoms, or who has been in direct contact with someone showing symptoms, to self-isolate for 14 days.

It’s also advised all people over the age of 70, or who would be considered ‘vulnerable’, to self-isolate until told otherwise.

With this in mind, it’s likely that many people will be unable to make it to a wedding.

In general, wedding insurance policies are only likely to cover health issues affecting the couple or their close relatives.

Provider Policy
Debenhams The policy does not mention coronavirus explicitly, but it doesn’t cover any claims where the person with an illness has acted against medical advice, or is awaiting the results of any tests or medical investigations.
Emerald Life Actual illness of the bride or groom is covered, but not with self-isolation, as it would be impossible to prove if it were genuine; if a close family member is ill then that may merit cancellation or rearrangement.
Events Insurance Two scenarios are covered: if the bride, groom or a close relative is diagnosed with the virus and is suffering with it at the time of the wedding, which causes the wedding to be cancelled; or the venue has a case of coronavirus and they are forced to cancel all events and close – on the basis that the contract you have with them permits them to cancel for that reason and it’s not the result of a blanket government shut down.
John Lewis You’re covered in the event of the death, injury or sickness of the prospective marriage or civil partners, or close relative or members of the wedding party which would make it inappropriate to continue the wedding.
The Insurance Emporium No claims are covered when directly or indirectly caused by, happening through, in consequence of or contributed to by influenza, notifiable disease, virus, bacteria or contagion, or any derivation or variant thereof.
Wedinsure Covers the unavoidable cancellation of the wedding due to the death or sickness of the wedding participants or their close relatives, as defined under the policy, which would make having or continuing with the wedding and/or wedding reception impossible. But if you buy the policy knowing you or a close relative has already contracted coronavirus, then that wouldn’t be covered.

Getting your money back by other means

If you don’t have wedding insurance, or your claim is refused, you should contact your bank or credit card company (if you paid using a credit card).

Make them aware of the situation and the complaint you’ve made, and you may be able to get reimbursed for at least some of the costs.

If you paid by credit card

Anything you’ve bought between £100 and £30,000 using a credit card has additional protections if something goes wrong.

It’s covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which means that your credit card company is jointly liable for any breach of contract (such as event cancellation) and you can claim your money back directly from it.

If you paid by debit card

You may be able to ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your credit or debit card in a process called chargeback.

Chargeback isn’t a right or law like Section 75 is, but banks are often up for helping. It can also be useful if you’re trying to recoup costs of less than £100, where Section 75 doesn’t apply.

Which? coronavirus advice

Experts from across Which? have been compiling the advice you need to stay safe, and make sure you’re not left out of pocket.

You can keep up to date on our latest coverage over on our coronavirus advice hub.

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