As coronavirus regulations continue to impact travel and businesses across the U.S., many would-be newlyweds have been facing tough decisions about canceling or postponing their weddings. Alternatively, backyard weddings can offer hosts the ability to comply with social distancing recommendations.
However, neglecting to consider insurance protections can result in a financial hit that would otherwise have been taken for granted during a conventional wedding. While having an at-home, backyard wedding can help avoid steep venue costs, failing to bolster insurance plans for an average cost of just $150 could leave newlyweds facing premiums that are one-third higher than what they're used to paying.
- Liability claims can increase a couple's premiums significantly. A single liability claim raised the cost of coverage across eight large insurers by an average of 33%.
- Couples who are planning outdoor weddings can avoid more expensive, long-term costs associated with litigation or lost property by budgeting an average of at least $150 yearly for extra protection.
- Increasing your liability can be practical and affordable. ValuePenguin researchers found that it costs only $88 yearly on average to raise your liability protection from an insurer's default amount to $1 million.
- Ensuring the safety of wedding-day items can also be affordable. We found that it only cost an average of $76 to increase a home insurance policy's total protection of jewelry from $1,500 to $15,000.
- Though it's about $80 more expensive to get extra liability through a wedding insurance policy than it is to add more coverage to a regular home insurance policy, it's probably worth it for most people if they're serving alcohol — even those hosting downsized backyard weddings.
Couples who have backyard weddings should be aware of potential risks for financial losses
Whether couples are hosting a backyard wedding because of the pandemic or as a cost-saving measure, they should budget for a slight increase to their cost of insurance. Newlyweds will have to decide between purchasing stand-alone wedding insurance or adding more coverage to their homeowners or renters policies. In either case, by planning to spend at least $150 on average on extra protection, newlyweds could avoid more expensive, long-term costs associated with litigation or lost property.
For context, the bulk of wedding costs come from a few areas, including the venue, engagement ring, band or DJ, photographer, and flowers or decor. (The cost of food and a venue often takes up more than $18,000 altogether on average.) ValuePenguin estimates that weddings typically cost almost $25,000.
Make sure you have sufficient liability protection
If someone was overserved at a backyard wedding and caused an accident after leaving, the hosts of the party could be held responsible.
A backyard wedding can complicate a host’s liability protection. This is due largely to the effect of liquor liability laws, which allow drunken driving victims to bring lawsuits against the businesses or individuals who provided drinks to the intoxicated person. While hosts won't need to worry about liability if they've hired professional caters, they would need to consider it if they're hosting a private party.
Fortunately, a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy can provide coverage to the hosts of a backyard wedding. We found that the cost of adding more liability protection to a homeowners insurance policy isn't very expensive. On average, increasing your personal liability coverage from $100,000 (generally) to $1 million costs an average of $88 a year, based on a comparison we performed on eight of the largest insurance companies in the U.S.
Average cost — no modifications
Average extra cost of adding $1M liability
USAA offers a minimum of $300,000 of liability coverage, while all other companies listed provided $100,000 before any modifications.
By comparison, the cost of not adding extra liability protection could be much more expensive. Making claims on your homeowners or renters insurance after experiencing property loss has been shown to raise the cost of future premiums. Because the cost of a personal liability claim is often high — as insurers pay for a policyholder's legal defense and any damages they're found liable for — companies commonly increase prices heavily after even just one claim.
We found that policyholders who make one liability claim experience average price increases equal to 33% of their premiums. Among the same eight insurance companies in our comparison, a liability claim raised the average cost of homeowners insurance by nearly $400 a year, though the change varied by company.
Ensure that items that have special limits of liability are fully covered
Couples who opt for backyard weddings should also consider raising their protections for high-value items, such as jewelry and video recording equipment, if they decide not to use a professional company. Typically, these items carry special limits of liability that are much lower than a policy's personal property limit. For example, jewelry is often covered for just $1,500 altogether.
While $1,500 might be enough to cover someone's necklace or ring, the value of jewelry purchased specifically for a wedding could easily outpace the coverage afforded by a typical homeowners insurance policy.
We found that increasing personal property protection for jewelry from $1,500 to $15,000 only increased the cost of a standard home insurance policy by an average of $76 a year (independent of any increases to personal liability protection). Notably, MetLife didn't raise its premiums for policyholders who added more protection for their jewelry.
Average cost — no modifications
Average extra cost of adding $15K special property coverage
Despite the cost, wedding insurance could be worth it for backyard weddings
Right now, for couples hosting backyard weddings amid the coronavirus pandemic, boosting their homeowners insurance protections is likely a better option compared to getting event cancellation insurance to protect their deposits, jewelry, clothing and more.
Wedding insurance refers to two separate types of coverage. Event cancellation coverage safeguards deposits and property used specifically on the wedding day, such as jewelry or clothes. Wedding insurance also refers to the extra liability coverage couples can purchase just before their wedding day.
The benefits of using home insurance right now come from the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. For instance, ValuePenguin had trouble getting a quote from Nationwide partner WedSafe, one of the best-known wedding insurance companies, because of government restrictions on large gatherings. Additionally, companies offering coverage may have pandemic-specific exclusions. However, many companies are still offering extra liability coverage.
We found that the cost of purchasing $1 million of liability coverage from a wedding insurance company was $155. This is much more than it typically costs to add coverage to a regular homeowners insurance policy, which costs an average of $88 yearly. However, it could be a good idea to pay a little bit extra for liability coverage from a wedding insurer, as opposed to increasing the limits of your regular homeowners insurance.
Though wedding insurance is only applicable to accidents that occur on the day of the event, a pricey one-time premium would be less than the increase to a couple's homeowners insurance policy that would occur if the coverage was needed. If a backyard wedding will feature privately served alcohol, the hosts should consider getting wedding insurance, even if the event is small. Otherwise, couples could be exchanging short-term affordability for long-term costliness.
For our comparison of wedding and homeowners insurance, we manually requested liability quotes for $1 million from the special event insurance providers Travelers, Wedsure and WedSafe.
For details on the cost of adding extra liability and special property coverage to a regular homeowners insurance policy, ValuePenguin's analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only. Your own quotes may be different.