With the number of commercial bankruptcies on the rise, some brides and grooms are getting burned by bankrupt vendors. Because of the weak economy, couples might want to consider wedding insurance and Better Business Bureau is offering advice on purchasing coverage for the big day.
The number of businesses filing for bankruptcy was up 47 percent in February over the previous year. While more well-known company filings like Ritz Camera make the headlines, many smaller, independent businesses are also struggling in the current economy. And BBB has certainly had complaints filed about bridal boutiques and venues that suddenly closed up shop leaving engaged couples in a bind. According to Travelers Insurance, more than 40 percent of all Travelers' wedding insurance claims filed during the past two years involved unforeseen problems with vendors and venues, some of which went bankrupt in the worsening economy.
“Considering that the average wedding costs more than $28,000, soon-to-be newlyweds have a significant amount of money on the line and a vendor’s ‘Going out of Business’ sign can be far worse than rain on their wedding day,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “Wedding insurance can provide peace of mind for a couple that their money will be recovered if a vendor or venue falls through at the last minute.”
To illustrate the seriousness of the situation, last summer, the BBB serving Charlotte received a flood of complaints from desperate brides about a local bridal shop, La Bella Sposa, which recently filed bankruptcy after deceiving many of its customers. According to complaints filed by brides, the shop took their money, ordered the dresses, but did not pay the designers, so the dresses never arrived. La Bella Sposa was allegedly taking orders for new dresses, but passed off the floor samples as original dresses. One jilted bride paid the shop more than $10,000 for a gown and 13 bridesmaid dresses, but the shop closed its doors taking her money with it two weeks before her wedding. Another bride was devastated to learn four days before her wedding that, while she thought her dress was undergoing final alterations, the bridal shop had allegedly sold the dress to another bride.
Aside from the gown, wedding insurance can provide a variety of coverage for many mishaps that might affect a wedding including vendor no-shows, foul weather, military deployment, and health issues affecting key participants. Most insurance won’t cover cold feet, however.
BBB offers the following advice on purchasing wedding insurance:
• Always research insurance companies first with BBB by reviewing BBB Reliability Reports free of charge online at www.bbb.org
• Shop for wedding insurance before paying deposits on any wedding services to make sure all expenses are covered.
• Comparison shop and pay close attention to the fine print. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance will cost between $125 to $400 depending on the amount of coverage. Like any insurance plan, there are limits on claims and deductibles that must be met.
• Avoid purchasing overlapping coverage. Some vendors might already be insured or coverage might be provided by the credit card company.
• Keep good records and all receipts for the insurance company in order to justify any reimbursements.
For more advice on planning a consumer-savvy wedding, go to www.bbb.org.