Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for CarInsuranceCompanies.com with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Sep 21, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • You should always know the pros and cons of multi-car insurance
  • One of the leading causes of an insurance lapse is missing a payment
  • Insurance companies charge different rates for different drivers

When you have an entire family to worry about, buying car insurance can be a bit more involved than it is for a household of one.

Luckily, most companies welcome families and make the process of buying insurance for the family easier than you might think.

How you will go about buying coverage for the entire family will depend upon your living situation and who possesses ownership of the vehicles that need coverage.

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Table of Contents

Do you need a single policy or multiple policies?

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If your family is comprised of more than one licensed driver and more than one vehicle, you will need to decide if you should buy a single policy or multiple policies with different insurers.

There are pros and cons when it comes to insuring your vehicles with the same provider, but some families may not have this option.

You must be able to look at your situation and see if buying a single policy is even an option.

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Pros and Cons of Multi-car Insurance

You should always know the pros and the cons to buying a single policy as opposed to the alternative.

Here are these advantages and also the disadvantages that companies really never want to focus on:

Pro: The Multi-car Discount

One of the biggest advantages to buying a multi-car policy for a family instead of multiple different single car policies is that you will be eligible for a multi-car discount.

This is typically applied to each vehicle, so the premiums for all of the cars will be lowered and the savings will add up.

Multi-car discounts can reduce the high cost of insurance and bring premiums down by as much as 30% when you add up the reductions.

Pro: Easy Vehicle Additions

When you buy insurance from a company that sells multi-car policies instead of single car policies, you can easily add a car to the policy without having to start a new policy altogether.

If you would like the same coverage, you will only need vehicle information to complete what is often a time-consuming transaction.

Pro: Easy to Service Your Insurance

One of the leading causes of an insurance lapse is missing a payment.

While some policyholders cannot afford to make their payment, others just overlook the due date because they have so many different due dates to juggle.

If you would like to make a single payment or call just once to make a policy change, it is much easier when all of the family cars are on a single policy.

Con: Some Drivers May Not Meet Underwriting Guidelines

If there is a high-risk driver in your home, it is possible that everyone but that risky driver will qualify for cover with a standard insurer.

You must then go to a high-risk insurer for the entire family or exclude the driver and have them branch off by themselves.

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Con: You Cannot Get the Best Rates for Each Driver

Insurance rates charge different rates for different drivers. If you are experienced and have a clear record, you might want to go with a company who gives the best rates to drivers in preferred classes.

If there is also a young driver with little experience, going with a company with favorable ratings for teen drivers is best.

Statistics show that people actually 29 percent more when they have multi-car insurance because there is no freedom to shop the rates based on the demographics.

When are you required to buy separate policies?

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When you buy an insurance policy that has multiple vehicles on it, all of the vehicles must be primarily stored at the same address. The vehicle’s owners must all live in the same home and have a similar financial interest in each of the cars.

If the vehicles in the home are registered to different owners that are not legally married, or members of the family live in different homes, the option of combining policies for multi-car insurance will not be available.

Be sure to remember this before you request a quote with all of the vehicles on the same policy.

Problems With Insuring Vehicle on the Same Policy When it Does Not Qualify

There may be scenarios where an agent will not ask you who a vehicle is registered to as you are filling out your application for coverage.

If the agent fails to ask this question, the company may not realize that the cars on the policy are not owned by the owner of the policy. This can lead to problems down the line.

Here are some of the problems you should be aware of:

  • The company can deny a claim because the car is not owned by named insured
  • The company may issue the claims check to the wrong party in the family
  • The state may fine you for not maintaining insurance in your own name

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What to Consider Before Choosing an Insurance Company

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Now that you know you are on a mission to find one or multiple policies, you should know what to look for in an insurer.

The last thing that you want to do is protect your family with coverage from a subpar provider.

Here are some of the qualities to look for in an insurer:

Financial Rating

Be sure to check the financial standing of the company before binding coverage. Financial strength is important when you are entrusting a carrier to pay your claims.

Licensing

Be sure that the company you are applying with has an active license that is in good standing with your state’s Department of Insurance. This protects you and prevents issues when you file a claim.

Quality Service

Service should always be a priority, even if you are not filing a claim. Be sure to check customer satisfaction ratings and other complaint records to see if the company will be as friendly after you become a client.

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References:

  1. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lapse.asp
  2. https://www.thebalance.com/how-do-i-get-a-multi-car-discount-527538
  3. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-high-risk-driver-527253
  4. https://www.lovemoney.com/guides/11730/the-multicar-insurance-ripoff
  5. https://www.allstate.com/auto-insurance/auto-life-discounts.aspx
  6. http://thelawdictionary.org/article/does-your-car-insurance-and-registration-have-to-be-under-the-same-name/
  7. http://www.iii.org/article/choosing-an-insurance-company
  8. http://www.iii.org/article/how-to-assess-the-financial-strength-of-an-insurance-company