By Thomas Brennan-Siegert

Weddings are stressful, let’s be honest. According to The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, a wedding is the seventh most stressful life event, only falling behind death of a spouse, divorce, break-ups, imprisonment, death of a family member, and personal injury/illness. On a side-note, on a scale from 1 to 100, imprisonment is only 13 points more stressful than marriage. Interesting.

And although I’ve yet to experience a number of events from this list (I’ll let you judge which I haven’t done), I can comprehend marriage stress as I’m currently planning my own.

A mixed bag of insurance

Whilst recently talking to the reception venue, they asked if we had wedding insurance. Now this was a type of insurance I hadn’t come across before. I’ve vaguely seen it on websites whilst doing mystery shops but didn’t know anything about it.

Wedding insurance turns out to be a mixture of a load of different features from other insurance policies. It takes the cancellation and rearrangement from travel insurance, the loss or damage from contents insurance and public liability from buildings insurance. You can add things like marquee cover in case the marquee gets blown over, and overseas cover for weddings abroad. Cover is roughly based on your budget or costs of certain suppliers, such as the florist. It’s offered by a range of providers, from high street retailers such as John Lewis and Debenhams, to specialist providers such as and E&L.

Mostly the insurance covers you for bad weather, suppliers going bust, etc. And according to the Independent1, with the average cost of a UK wedding being a massive £27k, clearly some protection is sensible.

A ridiculous clause

After some research I eventually bought a policy with The Insurance Emporium (a trading name of E&L). To be completely honest I chose them because their levels seemed roughly the same as we’d paid for various suppliers and was reasonably cheap. But - full disclosure - I hadn’t done too much research as this task was low on my wedding priority list.

As it’s my job of course I read the Ts & Cs for what I’d just bought. I was also trying to understand a bit more about the product – for example, the fact I wouldn’t be covered if one of us didn’t turn up on the day.

And that’s when I stumbled across the following:

It’s completely beyond me why anybody would want their wedding insurance policy to automatically renew. I’m sure most people don’t actively plan to get married more than once. It may not always work out that way, but it seems pretty extreme to keep yourself covered by a rolling wedding insurance policy – just in case. Besides, when taking out these policies the customer has to give very specific information regarding dates, timings, and locations. So surely the policy would only be valid for one wedding anyway. If that’s the case, it makes absolutely no sense why the policy would auto-renew.

Method behind the madness?

For me there can only be two reasons why this is in the policy wording:

  • Because of the nature of the product this is a hang-up from other forms of insurance, such as home insurance, which auto-renew and do so for valid reasons. It could be that this wording is carried from other products, without thinking about whether it’s actually in the customer’s best interests to have this. This seems to be the case with E&L as they have the exact wording in their pet, caravan, golf, camera, bicycle, and fishing products.

  • Insurers are banking on people not reading the Ts & Cs (which the vast majority of customers don’t) and then auto-renewing policies customers may not need.

Lack of disclosure regarding auto-renewal isn’t a problem solely for wedding insurance; in our new Autumn 2018 Customer Experience Ratings we found that a provider’s auto-renewal policy was disclosed less than half of the time during the journey – instead hidden in the Ts & Cs. This ranged from 48% of provider’s disclosing it during the journey in car insurance, to only 1 out of 26 providers in pet insurance.

Whatever the reason for auto-renewing a wedding insurance policy, it’s clearly not treating customers fairly, not in their best interest, and could cost them money. Weddings are incredibly expensive and stressful. This insurance is there to reassure customers, not lead them sleep-walking into renewing insurance they almost certainly won’t need. This can only lead to distrust in the industry, and rightly so.