Left at the Altar at Your Wedding? Now You Can Collect

PHOTO: Wedding insurance is available in case wedding plans go awry.
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If you're jilted and left at the altar on your wedding day, now you can at least recoup your wedding costs, provided that you bought "change of heart" insurance.

Wedding insurance is more common today than when it first introduced in 2007, experts say. That's due mainly to the rising cost of weddings: The more money spent, the more sense it makes to get insurance. The average couple now spends more than $4,000 just on photography and videography, according to The Wedding Report. The total cost of the average wedding hovers close to $30,000.

Wedding insurance expands as nuptials get pricier

Elaine Montgomery, vice president of personal insurance at Travelers, told ABC News that Travelers was among the first insurers to offer wedding coverage. The policies don't represent a big part of the company's business, she said, but they allow Travelers to enter into a relationship with a couple that may grow: Lovebirds who insure their wedding with Travelers may later insure their car, their boat or home.

"You wouldn't buy a $10,000 diamond without insuring it," Montgomery said. "So why wouldn't you insure a $26,000 wedding?"

Wedding coverage by Travelers and other household-name insurers typically offers reimbursement for specific losses -- a ruined wedding dress, a dropped cake, a photographer who failed to show. The policies also can cover cancellation or postponement of the whole shebang, owing, say, to bad weather or to Aunt Sally's having fallen down the stairs the week before the nuptials. A minority of policies also protect against a bridegroom or a bride cancelling because of a change of heart.

Brides, grooms say "I do" to wedding insurance

Cheryl Winter of Willis, Texas, wasn't worried about that. "My daughter and her now-husband," she told ABC News, "had been engaged a long time, so I wasn't worried about either one of them getting cold feet."

But she said she was worried about the weather: This was to be a destination wedding in October in New Orleans. Winter decided that getting insurance might be smart, given that she'd be spending $50,000 on the nuptials. "It was a purely financial thing," she explained.

As things turned out, she was happy she'd bought a $530 policy from Travelers: On the wedding day, the weather didn't blow -- but the limo didn't show. Winter demanded her $295 deposit back from the driver, who refused to pay. So, she filed a claim. "Travelers reimbursed the entire cost," she said.

When it comes to "change of heart" protection, Rob Nuccio of R.V. Nuccio & Associates in Toluca Lake, Calif., said he invented it. What's more, he said, "We're the only ones on the planet who offer it." It can be bought for $25 as an a la carte option on the wedding insurance policies he sells through the website Wedsure.com. (Fireman's Fund is the carrier.)

The reason nobody besides Nuccio sells change of heart protection, he told ABC News, is that the option invites "a degree of potential fraud" from buyers. A fighting bride and groom, seeing that their wedding was headed for the rocks, could try to buy a policy in advance, in knowing expectation of their financial loss.

For this reason, Nuccio sells change of heart coverage not to couples but only to their parents (or to whatever other party will be picking up the wedding's tab). Furthermore, the policy must be purchased a year in advance of the wedding.

When claims come in, said Nuccio, they get special scrutiny. "We interview everybody who had anything to do with the wedding. What was really going on? We check. Often there's a lot of fudging."

Website lets brides turn canceled weddings into cash

Cheryl Winter concedes wedding insurance is not for everyone. "It depends on how much money you stand to lose," she said.

Where somebody is spending a lot of money, though, it can make sense. "What's $500 for insurance when you're looking at a $50,000 wedding?" she said. "Nobody can predict the future."

Her other daughter will be getting married next year in the hill country of Texas -- "another destination wedding," she said. Winter, who again will foot the bill, said she isn't familiar with any of the local vendors. Anything could happen. The caterer could go out of business. "I definitely will buy insurance again," she said.

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