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Hedge those wedding blues
Designs on the bride: Big-budget weddings are now the norm

You are all set to say ‘I do’. The open-air farmhouse wedding with the Mediterranean theme is as much the highlight of the day as your wedding lehenga and jewellery. It’s a big day for your parents as well: They have invested every penny into making this a dream day for you. But what if the rain gods decide to play spoilsport or if a fire breaks out or the caterer messes up the menu? Can you afford to simply rely on prayers and luck and keep your fingers crossed till the last minute hoping that nothing goes wrong? Or would you rather take a wedding insurance plan and have some peace of mind and enjoy the D-day?

Even a middle class wedding in India today costs upward of Rs 5 lakh. With stakes so high, it is indeed important to cover your special day against any risk or loss. Unfortunately, the superstitious Indian does not want to associate any ill will with the auspicious occasion of marriage. Hence the limited awareness about such a valuable policy. People forget that a tragedy can strike any time. Take, for instance, the recent violent clashes and curfew in Calcutta on November 21, 2007. The day happened to be an auspicious date for weddings too. “From the Hyatt Regency to Nalban, every venue was booked. But because of the curfew, instead of the expected 1,500 to 2,000 people at a venue only 500 people turned up, resulting in huge losses for the families,” points out Vinod Bhandari, who heads Wedding Xtraordinaire, a wedding management company in Calcutta.

“I handle several high-end weddings. Though there is so much money at stake in these mega-marriages I have rarely come across any one opting for insurance. It is more the NRI and young BPO employees who are slowly realising the worth of this policy,” says Meher Sarid, a Delhi-based wedding planner.

The decision to purchase wedding insurance is a highly personal one — a financial decision that can be an additional cost in your wedding budget. But it will protect you from any unforeseen disasters and mishaps. Amit Chakrabarty, a Calcutta-based chartered accountant, is considering taking an insurance scheme for his marriage next February. “I think it would be playing safe to cover the event just in case anything goes wrong since a lot of money will be invested in the ceremony,” says Chakrabarty.

A wedding insurance policy covers a range of things. Starting from an unexpected cancellation or postponement, it also takes care of damage to property, which also includes damage to decoration either at the home of the policyholder or at the venue. A policyholder is also covered in case of a personal accident. However, at the time of taking the policy, the policyholder must declare the names of relatives to be covered under this section. The public liability issue, wherein any compensation is payable for an accident to a person for food poisoning, is also covered along with theft.

Among the nationalised companies, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, National Insurance Company Limited, United India Insurance Co. Ltd and New India Assurance Co. Limited offer wedding insurance plans under the event insurance schemes. In the private sector, Bajaj Allianz offers a specialised wedding insurance package and ICICI Lombard offers it through its event insurance plan. Bajaj Allianz’s policy covers wedding cancellation or postponement owing to fire or any natural disaster, accident to the bride or groom, accident to blood relatives resulting within seven days of the wedding date, damage to property including the venue, burglary and even cases of food poisoning at the function. “The expenses covered would also include advances paid for the venue, to the decorators and caterers, music parties, hotel and travel bookings and invitation cards,” says Aseem Goel, regional manager, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, Calcutta.

This scheme has four insurance options in the range of Rs 2 lakh, Rs 4 lakh, Rs 6 lakh and Rs 8 lakh. Within each of these options, one can get six different types of covers. The indicative premiums for the four options range from Rs 3,770 to Rs 14,276.

ICICI Lombard offers a wedding insurance policy as part of its event insurance policy. “If the pre-event functions are also covered, the policy is usually taken 30 days before the event and is valid till the date of the event,” says Bindi Thakkar, corporate manager, marketing, ICICI Lombard, Mumbai. The premium of this policy is broadly in the range of 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent of the sum insured.

Companies such as Oriental Insurance offer marriage insurance policies keeping in mind the location and weather at the time of the event. “For example, a marriage in August at an open-air location will require a higher premium than a wedding in December because of the monsoon factor,” explains Alok Jha, regional manager, marketing, Oriental Insurance, Calcutta. Premiums also vary on a case-to-case basis. According to Jha, clients who go for marriage insurance from Oriental Insurance generally opt for a Rs 10 lakh cover with premiums ranging from 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent of the sum insured.

But there are a few important things that one should keep in mind while making the claim. Wedding cancellation or postponement must be due to a fire or related hazards at the venue. It could also be because of an accident to the bride, groom or any of the relatives, seven days before the wedding. “You will not get the claim if the wedding is cancelled because of a dispute between the marriage parties or for damage to electrical apparatus because of short circuit or self-heating,” states Ashish Kapur, CEO, Investshoppe, a Delhi-based wealth management company. A child marriage is also not covered. Fines imposed by the government too are not covered.

When you want to make a claim, says Bejon Misra, CEO, Consumer Voice, the most important thing is that you should have all the necessary documentation in place. “Even items such as the wedding card, bills and photographs might be useful.” Though they say marriages are made in heaven, we all know solemnising them costs the earth. And now you know, insuring them will help you sail through it all.

(Additional reporting by Shubhobroto Ghosh in Calcutta)

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Bharat Matrimonial 21012010