IIAA Advises on Diamonds, Weddings

February 4, 2000

A record number of couples are opting to get married this year. Diamond engagement ring sales are on the rise, and it means increased competition for prime wedding locations.

The Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA) offered advice to the busy couple who just might overlook the need for additional jewelry protection in the process of planning their big day.

Many new couples are not aware that their expensive engagement and wedding rings may not be covered properly by standard property insurance policies. And event cancellation insurance, which can offer couples some security if their wedding venue is mistakenly double-booked, is probably the last thing on the minds of busy brides and grooms. It shouldn’t be, according to IIAA.

Here are some things engaged couples should know about insurance when planning their millennium weddings:

JEWELRY: Jewelry sales increased substantially over the last few months, according to preliminary industry statistics – up 11.4 percent overall during the 1999 holiday season alone, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. One large national retailer, Zale Corp., said sales of diamond engagement rings were up 15 to 20 percent over 1998 during the holidays.

Much of this jewelry — particularly diamond engagement rings — will be excluded from full coverage under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies.

“Most policies provide as little as $1,000 for loss by theft, and you will have to pay a deductible on top of that, leaving you with virtually nothing,” said Madelyn Flannagan, IIAA’s associate vice president of public affairs. “Worse yet, if your ring simply disappears or if you lose the stone, most homeowners and renters policies provide little or no protection at all.

” While the average engagement ring value reached $2,000 in 1998, according to the Diamond Information Center, economic prosperity may be pushing that value up this year. Online jeweler Mondera.com reported that its average diamond engagement ring sale is $5,500.

Usually an endorsement called a schedule or a floater endorsement will insure your diamond against theft and damage. The annual cost of this coverage is only about $5-$10 per $1,000 in value. Flannagan said the best protection is a personal jewelry policy.

An appraisal of the ring, to begin this process, is the first step. These policies provide coverage for loss by theft, damage or disappearance and will pay for repair or replacement with like kind and quality. They are very flexible and allow the addition of more jewelry as a collection increases.

WEDDING INSURANCE: “Next to buying a home, this is the second-biggest investment some couples will ever make in their lifetimes,” Flannagan said. But with competition for prime wedding sites, caterers and photographers becoming fierce, many couples may end up out of luck if someone has to cancel or mistakenly double-books. With the average wedding costing between $25,000 to $27,000 in 2000 — up 28% from 1999, according to InStyle magazine, many couples still seem willing to leave this enormous investment to chance.

“Insurance policies that insure against event cancellation or vendor mix-ups may be a particularly good investment this year,” Flannagan said. For a one-time premium starting around $200, couples can protect themselves against the extra expenses of finding last-minute accommodations should the unforeseen happen.

For those moving their events to non-traditional venues, such as family homes or parks, liquor liability may become an issue. In these cases, brides and grooms may want to consider purchasing a liquor or umbrella liability policy in case someone gets out of control.

IIAA encourages brides and grooms to include a visit to their insurance agent when planning their wedding.

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