Wedding Officiant Insurance – Cost and Policies
When you have Wedding Officiants insurance, you can be assured that being part of a happy occasion like a wedding does not bring with it some risks.
All businesses and service providers need liability insurance to protect themselves in case a customer claims that you failed in some way to deliver the proper, promised and appropriate service.
The name of the policy can vary depending on the laws of the state where you are performing the ceremony.
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In many cases, it is referred to as professional liability insurance.
In others, because you are not doing any kind of physical work, it comes under the same category as providing consultations or advice and then the usual title is Errors & Omissions (also known as E&O insurance).
What are the general duties of the wedding officiant?
There is a legal duty to make the wedding comply with the requirements set out in the marriage laws of the county in which the ceremony is conducted.
Typical duties for the wedding officiant are:
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- Witnessing the couple clearly consenting to the union
- Witnessing them signing the marriage certificate or license prescribed by the county
- A wedding officiant can also be required by state law to file the completed marriage documents properly
The duties of a wedding officiant can vary from wedding to wedding, and may also have to be performed in accordance with the religious requirements of the couple being married.
What qualifications must a wedding officiant have?
A wedding officiant is a person who is licensed in his or her county to witness the wedding union and to complete the state documents (called either the marriage license or marriage certificate).
Therefore, a wedding officiant is an official of the county and in most of the states of the USA must him or herself have a license to act as an officiant.
Typically, a person who is a religious minister, a judge, a Justice of the Peace, a police officer or sheriff is empowered to perform these duties, but most states also allow private individuals to apply for the officiant license, and as long as they can show good character and knowledge of the state’s laws, they should be able to act as officiants even though they are not employees of the state.
Every county has its own laws about who can sign a marriage certificate and how they must legally join the couple in matrimony.
The most important part in terms of the officiant’s duty is a wedding ceremony.
It can be something as simple as asking the two people for verbal consent to enter into the marriage.
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In some counties, a marriage license must be filed with the county offices within a specified period after the ceremony, either by the officiant or by the couple themselves.
It’s important for an officiant who is traveling between different counties, and even more so between different states, to be fully aware of the relevant requirements and laws regarding issuing, completing and filing the certificate of marriage.
This has been one of the main causes of court cases where some error or omission resulted in the marriage not being legally completed.
One example of this was when an officiant who was completing the marriage certificate after a ceremony made a small error in the date on the forms.
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Due to this mistake, the couple wasn’t legally married inside the tax year and missed out on federal and state taxation reliefs and benefits.
They filed a lawsuit for recovery of all of the lost financial components, as well as for the emotional aggravation.
Errors & omissions liability insurance would have protected the officiant in this case.
What protection does Wedding Officiants insurance Errors & Omissions cover give a wedding celebrant?
As its name tells you, the policy covers you in case some mistake is made (error) or something essential in the wedding ceremony is left out (omission).
When you are licensed by your county to perform weddings, there are clear stated requirements of what duties you have. We set most of these out above.
Anything that does not conform to the laws of the county where the license is being filed, or in the state, can have serious consequences.
One of the most important benefits of liability insurance is that it becomes the duty of the insurance company to defend you in any case.
Rather than having to put together your own defense lawyers, who would be charging hundreds of dollars per hour for research and other such ancillary work, an insurance company already has the expert teams of lawyers ready to fight on their behalf.
How much liability insurance should a wedding officiant have, and what should it cost?
Mainly the level of activity will determine the required levels of cover you should have.
In turn this, along with other factors, determines the premiums that you are charged.
These include the number of years you’ve been working as an officiant, your previous claims history, and whether you employ other workers.
Remember that insurance companies share information about claims across the state, so they have access to pooled information about your individual claims history.
This could influence what you will be charged for E&O liability insurance and may even be a reason why a company refuses you a policy.
The best advice we can give is for you to talk to local insurance agents and insurance brokers to get a wide range of quotes from different companies.
However, don’t automatically take the cheapest offer, but rather consult with the agents and brokers to see why their offers are different- Maybe there are clauses in the cheap policy that make it unsuitable for you.
As well, search on the web will get you knowledge of the broader picture.
The main stipulations about your cover are the coverage limits of your policy in the forms of the maximum amount of any individual claim (usually stated as the ‘single claim’ limit) and secondly the total amount of all claims in the period of cover (the term is ‘aggregate claim’).
If you select higher limits, you will need to pay higher premiums.
You should agree to limits that meet your own “worst-case” scenario for a single incidence and multiply that by something related to the number of individual ceremonies you expect to perform in a single year.
You can make the insurance cheaper by agreeing to a deductible amount from each claim, which means you will pay the first amount on any claim up to to the deductible limit.
Insurance companies don’t want the hassle of small “nuisance” claims that cost them time and effort to process – often more than the claim itself.
By agreeing to a smart deductible, you will be charged lower premiums.
Generally, for wedding officiants the premium is calculated on a “per-insured” basis, which means you pay the same premium for yourself as for any employee that is acting as a wedding officiant on your behalf.
Although we can’t quote exact costs, the following are general levels of the annual premiums that have been charged for Errors and Omissions policy cover for services like wedding officiants.
|Insurance limits||Range for annual premiums|
$2,000 single incident
|$220 – $300|
$5,000 single incident
|$300 – $500|
What kinds of insurances are not a general requirement for wedding celebrants?
When someone is providing some kind of personal or health-related service, insurance that is known as malpractice insurance is important.
This is not the case for marriage celebrants, unless your rituals include some kind of bodily contact.
It would be unusual for malpractice insurance to be recommended.
Normally, a wedding officiant is a visitor at the place of the ceremony, which absolves you from any risk of being the cause of injury or damage to a third party.
In other circumstances, insurance companies sell General Liability cover.
The only time you could be expected to have general liability insurance is when you are conducting a wedding ceremony inside your own home or office.
Unless you are regularly and frequently conducting wedding ceremonies at your home, it’s unlikely that such insurance cover is necessary.
Commercial Auto Insurance is necessary if you use a vehicle for business purposes.
Without this insurance, a collision could lead to a claim against you for damages.
However, your private vehicle insurance is already covering you for travel to and from work, as well as for theft, storm damage and other natural events.
Unless you are transporting people around with you as part of your work as an officiant, the value of the vehicle and other risks are already covered by the private policy.
What does Errors & Omissions Insurance cover?
A full E&O insurance policy should cover the following possible claims against you.
The policy will cover your liability up to the limits for which you paid premiums.
- Damages awarded by a court that has decided that you were in some way negligent in the performance of your wedding ordination duties
- Settlement of any claims if you have made promises that you did not deliver
- Legal costs regardless of whether or not you were at fault
- Claimant’s legal costs if the court awards them against you.
Damages claimed can include undelivered services, misrepresentation of your capacities, negligence, violation of good faith, mistakes and work oversights.