Wedding insurance, and insurance for other types of events, are usually specific stand-alone insurance policies taken out to cover risks relating to the event in question. We typically hear from customers after they have made a claim. They contact us because they feel their claim has not been handled properly or has been rejected unreasonably.
The policies might cover the period in the run-up to the event, or the event itself – for example, cancellation or abandonment of the event; or property damage or legal liability relating to the event.
Types of complaints we see
We see a range of complaints about wedding or special event insurance. Many of the complaints we see relate to the type or level of cover that exists where someone has had to cancel or rearrange their wedding – for example because their venue was closed by a relevant authority or went into administration, or because of the death of a close relative.
Recently, we’ve been contacted by consumers who had to cancel their event due to government measures imposed in response to the pandemic.
Customers may complain that:
- They’ve been sold a policy that was unsuitable for them
- They weren’t made aware of a key aspect of the policy
- Their claim has been unfairly declined
- Their claim has not been handled in a timely manner
- The amount offered to settle their claim is not correct
How to complain
The first thing you should do is explain to the financial business what’s happened and why you’re complaining. They should look into things and reply within eight weeks.
If you’re not happy with their response, or the business doesn't reply in time, you can bring your complaint to us. We’ll check it’s something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate.
Find out more about how to make a complaint.
What we look at
As with every case, in reaching a decision about what’s fair and reasonable, we consider:
- the relevant law and regulations
- any regulator’s rules and guidance that applied at the time
- any industry codes of conduct in force at the time
- what we consider was good industry practice at the time
If there are disagreements about the facts, we’ll make our decision about what happened using evidence provided by you, the financial business and relevant third parties.
The majority of complaints we’re seeing currently relate to what cover exists where someone has had to cancel or rearrange their wedding due to government measures imposed in response to the pandemic. Most commonly, weddings were affected if the venue had been told to close, if a member of the wedding party had been advised to shield or by restrictions on travel.
We’ll consider what’s fair and reasonable taking into account all of the circumstances – in particular the unprecedented situation created by the pandemic. We expect any insurer to remember its duties to deal with claims promptly and fairly, and not to reject a claim unreasonably.
Our starting point will be to look at the policy wording and any other relevant documentation, such as the policy summary.
Wedding insurance will often only cover the cancellation of a wedding if it arose from one of the events listed in the policy terms. Examples might include the venue being damaged by a fire, the death of a close relative or at least half of the guests not being able to reach the wedding due to adverse weather conditions.
Other policies will cover cancellation so long as it’s unforeseen, unavoidable and beyond your control (unless an exclusion applies).
If you think you have a claim, the first thing to do is contact your insurer. You’ll need to demonstrate that your loss is covered. To do this, they’ll usually ask you to provide evidence to show why the wedding was cancelled.
All policies will include a list of circumstances that are excluded from cover. One example might be if someone decides not to go through with the marriage. And limitations may be placed on the amount that will be paid out in the event a claim. We’d expect any significant or unusual exclusions to have been highlighted to you at the point of sale (in a policy summary, for example).
Once you have been able to show you have suffered a loss your policy covers, it’s up to your insurer to either pay the claim, demonstrate that an exclusion applies, or demonstrate that a condition of the policy has been breached (in a way that was material to the loss).
We’d also think about what’s fair and reasonable. In a Covid-19 related claim, for example, there might be many reasons a wedding was cancelled, some of which are covered, some of which aren’t and some of which are excluded. What’s fair will depend on the individual circumstances.
Sometimes, although the claim is accepted, a dispute might arise over the settlement of the claim. Wedding insurance usually only covers costs that are irrecoverable. So, you will usually have to show you’ve tried to get your money back from the venue and your suppliers.
How we approach these complaints will depend on whether advice was given.
If it wasn’t, we’d still expect you to have been given enough clear information to have enabled you to make an informed decision about whether to buy the policy. Any significant or unusual features of the policy should have been drawn to your attention. If advice was given, we’d expect to see that consideration was given to your needs, and that any advice was suitable.
Sometimes, we see two complaints brought to us simultaneously about a claim and the sale of a policy, and we generally investigate the claim first before considering the sale.
Insurers have an obligation to handle all claims promptly and fairly, to update you on a claim’s progress, and not to reject a claim unreasonably. In a complaint about customer service, we would consider your insurer’s handling of your claim against these obligations.
Putting things right
If we find you’ve been treated unfairly, we’ll ask the business to put things right. This usually involves putting you back in the position you’d be in if things hadn’t gone wrong. It will depend on the nature and type of complaint.
It might include, for example, asking the insurer to reconsider, or pay, some or all of your claim, or refund your premiums. We may also ask the insurer to pay you interest, or to pay you compensation if you’ve been caused distress or inconvenience.
Jack and Sarah’s wedding was cancelled by their venue due to Covid-19
Wedding insurance Covid-19
Ben and Selena took out a policy with an insurer to cover wedding cancellation costs
Information for financial businesses
If you’re a business looking for information to help you resolve complaints, detailed information about complaints about wedding insurance can be found in the business section of our website.