A knotty affair

A knotty affair

Let’s face it: Marriages may be made in heaven, but solemnizing them costs the earth. Tying the knot has never been a cheap affair. A modest middle-class wedding in an India metro can cost anywhere upward of Rs5 lakh these days. And if such a huge stash of cash is at stake, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a hedge against any risk of loss?

Ahmedabad-based petrol pump operator Rameshchandra Vithaldas Shah, 54, thinks so. A couple of years ago, at the time of his daughter’s wedding, Shah bought a wedding insurance policy from Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd to cover all exigencies related to the event. “Getting your daughter married is an expensive affair," he says. “God forbid, if any untoward incident had happened, I would have been in financial trouble for the rest of my life."

For those not in the loop, a wedding insurance policy offered by companies such as Bajaj Allianz, Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd, National Insurance Co Ltd, and ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd provides cover for a list of events that includes, among other eventualities, even the cancellation or postponement of the wedding. Any damage to the insured’s property or venue because of a fire or events such as riots and strikes, too, are covered. The insurance is also available if the wedding is cancelled or postponed because of an accident involving the bride, bridegroom or blood relatives that results in hospitalization within seven days prior to the printed or declared wedding date. The names of those who are to be included in the cover have to be declared at the time of taking the policy. But if the wedding is cancelled because of a dispute between the marriage parties, the insurance company will not pay the claim.

If a claim is filed, the insurance company will reimburse expenses for printing invitation cards, advances made to book the wedding venue, caterer and decorator, in addition to hotel room bookings and travel reservations.

Of course, you need to furnish proof of expenditure at every stage. So don’t forget to keep all those bills handy.

What’s more, the plan protects the policyholder against public liability cases either on account of food poisoning or accidents at the venue.

There are, however, riders to these policies. To guard against malicious claims, Bajaj Allianz asks policyholders to bear 2% of the claim amount.

Indian weddings are synonymous with jewellery, and a cover for theft hardly seems an indulgence. Shah bought the insurance package primarily to protect against theft. He recalls how, a few years ago, the house of a friend, who was about to get his daughter married, was burgled. All the jewellery and cash were stolen, causing a major setback.

Typically, a wedding insurance policy comes into force seven days before the wedding and, of course, expires when the event is over. However, the burglary cover extends to one day after the marriage.

Despite the obvious sense of security behind wedding insurance policies, there haven’t been too many takers for these in India.

Analysts cite two primary reasons: superstition among most Indians and their unwillingness to hedge against an auspicious event such as a wedding. This is borne out by T. A. Ramalingam, head of underwriting, Bajaj Allianz, who feels that wedding insurance policies haven’t taken off in India the way they should have, because of a lack of awareness and the reluctance of people to contemplate insurance for something they consider to be sacred. “These policies sound useful. But when I told my family about it, I was told to not even think that anything could go wrong with the wedding," says Chennai-based Rajeshwari Sundaram, who plans to get married in a couple of months.

Another reason is the absence of any aggressive marketing by insurance companies. ICICI Lombard, for instance, doesn’t have a specific wedding insurance plan, but has customized its event insurance policy for weddings as well.

On the other hand, such policies are very popular in the West and, in addition to postponement and cancellations, they also cover possibilities such as loss of a wedding ring and non-delivery of a wedding outfit on time.

“Most of my NRI clients buy wedding insurance but they get it from abroad," says Meher Sarid, consultant, Wedding Art, a leading wedding planning firm in New Delhi. “Indian clients are largely unaware of such policies."

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