November 07, 2007
The Big Fat Indian wedding just gets bigger and fatter. As politicians, actors and industrialists make news with their children's multi-crore rupee weddings, ordinary souls don't want to be left behind. But, the bigger the wedding, the harder it is to manage. And God forbid, if something should go wrong, each carefully-made plan could come undone in no time. Insuring the wedding might just be the answer.
Rameshchandra V. Shah, 54, is an Ahmedabad-based petrol pump dealer. He decided to insure his daughter Bhoomi's wedding two years ago, in February 2005, because a family friend had lost some jewellery to theft a day before a marriage ceremony the previous year. Says Shah: "I wanted to be prepared, just in case something untoward occurred. So, I took an insurance policy worth Rs 10 lakh for the wedding." The policy covered robberies/thefts, damage to the premises, the guests' safety, cancellations and other contingencies. Shah spent Rs 3,700 as premium, a small fraction of the total wedding cost.
You cannot put a price tag on peace of mind during an event as huge and nerve-wracking as this.
A Fad? Not really
There are those who believe that getting a wedding cover is for the rich. This is why there are few takers for it. T.A. Ramalingam, head (underwriting), Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, says, "Given the sacred nature of the rituals nobody wants to even think that anything could go wrong." However, wedding planners, who are hired to manage every aspect of the wedding, recommend insurance to their clients. Dipa Sheth, who runs an event planning firm, Occasionz Unlimited, with her partner Sneha Tejwani, says, "We recommend getting the wedding insured to all our clients. Wealthy individuals buy a lot of expensive designer wear and jewellery. These are items that face a high risk of theft." But despite their advice, only 40-50 per cent of their clients decide to go for insurance, she says. Occasionz works with The Oriental Insurance Co. to provide wedding insurance if the client so desires.
So what kind of insurance do you need? Sachin Parekh, CEO of Aadhyam Weddings & Allied Services, says, "Insurance of jewellery against thefts is preferable. Also, cover against cancellation or postponement of the ceremony due to an accident to the bride or groom or due to the death of a close relative, is also advisable." In case such an untoward incident does happen, and the wedding is insured, compensation will be given for expenses already incurred.
A wedding is a momentous day for any couple. So, if the idea of getting it financially protected appeals to you, there are many options available.
Among private insurance companies, Bajaj Allianz has a dedicated wedding insurance cover, while ICICI [Get Quote] Lombard General Insurance has a general event cover that also includes weddings. The public sector insurance companies also offer wedding policies under their event insurance packages.
These policies typically cover the following: fire or allied perils; accidents to the bride, groom or their blood relatives; burglary of jewellery, clothes or valuables; wedding cancellation due to legitimate and specified causes; damage to the venue by natural causes or acts of crime/terror; and, in certain cases, even food poisoning (see Quick Facts). Contingencies that are outside the ambit of the policy are disruption or cancellation owing to criminal acts committed by the groom to the bride's relations, negligence, insolvency or disputes between the two families.
The duration of the policies can be anywhere from a week before the actual wedding function to until all the festivities are complete.
If you were thinking that the cost of the premium could be a deterrent, it isn't. For example, the premiums for Bajaj Allianz's policies range from Rs 3,770 to Rs 14,276 for a sum insured of Rs 20 lakh-70 lakh. The policy comes with six options that add up to the total policy amount. For example, the minimum insured amount for cancellation, damage and personal accident each is Rs 2 lakh and above, while the public liability cover is of Rs 10 lakh or more. This means that if you want to customise your cover by insuring the ceremony only against event cancellation and fire, your premium will come down as compared to a comprehensive cover including all six contingencies.
ICICI Lombard's wedding policy, which comes under their event insurance package, also comes with three options: cancellation of the event, material damage and public liability. Says Kartik Jain, head (marketing and E-channel), ICICI Lombard: "The insured amount and premium is decided on a case-to-case basis and on the options selected." The total premium, however, can be 0.75-1 per cent of the policy amount, he says.
PSU insurers also have event insurance policies that cover weddings. Says Rama Bhasin, regional manager, Oriental Insurance's Mumbai regional office: "Policies are issued very selectively since the party has to furnish the proper information. There is no minimum or maximum insurance limit, but our clients are usually in the Rs 50-lakh-plus policy bracket. The premiums can be anywhere in the range of 1-2 per cent of the sum insured." The figures are similar for other PSU insurers as well.