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Insure, before you marry!

By Freny Patel in Mumbai
December 07, 2004 11:03 IST
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My uncle had given me an outstanding wedding gift. When I had hurriedly set the date for my marriage, he came over to give me a white envelope containing a wedding insurance package for a value of Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million), just 7 days prior to the event.

My mother was hurt by the gesture. But when  my wedding was cancelled the first time around due to the sudden death of my grandmother, the family became grateful. We did not lose the money we had spent, thanks to my uncle's foresight.

My uncle is an insurance agent now with Bajaj Allianz, which has launched the country's first wedding insurance policy.  Sales haven't been hot because Indians tend to be superstitious and see the buying of such covers as a negative omen.

A case in point is a former colleague tying the knot this month.

When I asked David Pinto if he would consider paying less than Rs 4,000 after having spent well over Rs 3 lakh (Rs 300,000) on his wedding plans to insure the expenditure, he declined.

It was not about having to shell out the premium for the the Rs 20 lakh insurance cover that put him off. Like most Indians, he found it inauspicious. David also suspects his would-be bride would detest the idea.

Bajaj Allianz , which launched the policy last month, has sold two policies till now.

A Mumbai-based conservative Jain family has bought one for a Rs 20 lakh cover, paying a premium of Rs 3,770. The wedding takes place today and the policy expires tomorrow.

Though wedding insurance is new to India, it is a well-established product abroad.

Standard premiums range from $155 to $385 overseas, and the coverage can go up to $50,000.

In India, Bajaj Allianz product premiums start at Rs 3,770 for a Rs 20 lakh cover and goes up to Rs 14,276 for a Rs 70 lakh cover.

In some countries, the insurer even pays for reorganising the bridal party for new pictures if the film has been lost or damaged.

Policies even pay for new wedding rings in the event of they being stolen or lost; it can also replace damaged or lost wedding gifts.

What no insurer is willing to take a bet on, however, is cold feet. If either side has a change of heart, the cost of cancellation has to be borne from one's own pocket.

So what does a wedding insurance policy cover in India? Many things, including cancellation or postponement due to fire and allied perils.

The cover also comes into effect due to accident to the bride or bridegroom or blood relatives resulting in hospitalisation within 7 days prior to the printed or declared wedding date.

Damage to the insured's property or venue due to fire and allied perils including riots, strike and malicious intent are covered too.

Bajaj Allianz's wedding cover will take care of the expenditure involved in printing of cards, advances given to the venue, caterer, decorator;  for music, and for hotel and travel bookings.

Of course, proof of expenditure would be required at every stage.

In the case of accident to the bride or groom or any blood relative, the names of these individuals who are to be included in the cover have to be declared in advance at the time of taking the policy.

The package also covers money kept in the safe  -- till the day after the wedding.

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

But the company has built some fences around it too. To safeguard against malicious claims, Bajaj Allianz asks the policyholder to bear two per cent of the claim amount.

Essentially, the policy comes into force seven days before the wedding and of course expires when the event is over. However, the burglary cover will extend to one day after the marriage, as people tend to stay back for the night after marriage.

"This is the ideal time to launch such a package, at the onslaught of the Hindu marriage season. A lot of weddings are taking place during these months as the next auspicious time would not be till July next year," says an astrologist.

With weddings becoming an expensive and elaborate affair, people do take care to make this once in a lifetime event a memorable one, says Kamesh Goyal, CEO, Bajaj Allianz.

And a wedding cover gives the programme iron-clad security.

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