The Guardian heard from people who lost thousands of people when claims were turned down by the WeddingPlan Insurance provider.
Lidia and her partner Adam were to be married on April 4, after the isolation began.
They began to fear that their plans would be affected in early March and sought insurance that would provide coverage against cancellation due to the coronavirus. After checking with WeddingPlan that they would be eligible, they purchased a £ 57 policy and made payments to caterers and other suppliers.
“On March 21, the place told us that they could not organize our wedding because they could not guarantee the safety of the staff,” said Lidia. “Then, on March 23, the lockdown took place and everything was officially closed. “
They asked for a new date next summer, but the price will be much higher. The caterers said that they prepared most of the food and that they would not survive if they paid back.
The couple, who marked their wedding day with drinks in the garden and a Zoom call with friends and family, claimed just under £ 10,000 to cover the costs they cannot recover. The emails seen by Guardian Money show that they have been told they can make a claim if the marriage is canceled due to an infectious disease. “The rejection says they will not pay because the place was closed due to government legislation,” she said. “But the cancellation was made before the law was passed. “
Others have had their requests denied. Debenhams wedding insurance customers appear to be in the same position, as both brands are operated by UK General. Many bought their policies last year, but others paid for them on the assumption that they would benefit from coronavirus coverage.
The competition watchdog has warned sites to refuse reimbursements, but some of those who claim have been told that expenses already accrued cannot be reimbursed.
The screenshots suggest that WeddingPlan has changed its mind. In an FAQ section on his website in late March, he said, “If the government or the relevant agency cancels all public gatherings because of a coronavirus, would the cancellation or postponement of my marriage be covered?” ” The answer is: “Yes, if the site was closed due to a general outbreak of infectious diseases, when the government issues a notice, it would fall under the” closure of the site by the competent authority “. “
Many, like Lidia, had also been reassured by email and telephone.
Annie was to be married on Saturday March 21 – before the isolation began, but the day after the government announced that pubs and hotels were to close. “The photographer withdrew because he was part of the vulnerable group, and the guests fell like flies,” she said. So they checked with WeddingPlan and were assured that they would be able to claim.
After setting up the site on Friday, they watched the press briefing announcing the first cycle of closings and at 7 p.m. they received a call telling them that the site should close. The couple had planned a church wedding and, with the family reunited for the event, they called the insurer to ask if they could still claim the loss of reception if they continued the legal part of the day. Thanks to a vicar with a measuring tape, they were allowed to marry, but without any celebration.
“We are not asking for a photographer because we had photos of the ceremony. We ask for flowers for the table, but not for the bouquets. But it was too late to postpone, so we had to pay for food and the venue. “
Their £ 20,000 claim was also dismissed as the insurer said the site was forced to close by a government act. They dispute this, claiming that the law did not come into force until after the date of their marriage, and that the insurer’s website initially stated that it would accept claims under these circumstances. “We didn’t have the wedding we planned, and we paid a high price for it. “
The UK has said that it does not underwrite policies and is a distributor of a number of insurance products “so we do not have the final say on the payment of a claim”.
He adds: “We recognize that our clients expect to be able to make a claim on their marriage insurance policy because of the postponement of their marriage, and when their request is refused, this is extremely upsetting… Pandemic coverage, for situations such as Covid-19, were not included in marriage policies, and policies were therefore not priced to cover pandemics. The policy is intended to cover localized problems, such as a local authority closing a specific location following an epidemic of food poisoning. A government-imposed lockout does not and has never been intended to be part of the coverage provided by this policy. “
The British general has stated that anyone who has had a rejected claim can use their complaint process and the Financial Ombudsman Service.
What does the law say about payment requests?
Couples who have filed deposits for weddings that had to be canceled due to foreclosure have faced aggressive requests from places to pay their final bills – which can easily be between £ 12,000 and £ 17,000 – for a marriage which can no longer take place.
When faced with such a demand, what should you do? James Cronin, director of the Eight Legal law firm in Cheltenham, advises couples not to hand over more money. Instead, he says, they may want to argue that the original contract to provide the place of marriage was frustrated.
“If there is a contract for a wedding or a holiday which is now impossible to perform in a manner that resembles the terms originally agreed between the parties in a meaningful way, a letter claiming that the contract has been frustrated and referring to law reform (frustrated Contracts) The 1943 law might help, “he said.
“Frustration applies when an unforeseeable event makes it impossible to perform the contract or on terms which bear real commercial resemblance to those agreed between the parties. If a party has benefited considerably before the frustrating event – cancellation of the summons – a judge is authorized to distribute all or part of the benefits to the other party if this results in a fair result. “
Consumer rights group Which one? says he has received complaints from couples about cancellations at wedding venues.
“It is unacceptable that some sites refuse to refund large initial deposits from couples or charge exorbitant fees to customers, especially when it is not the couple’s decision to cancel,” said rights editor Adam French. of consumers at Which?
“While many businesses will struggle during this difficult time, it does not seem fair that customers should be charged a fee or left thousands of pounds for a service that the site cannot provide. “