UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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When you’re only insuring yourself and your car, it’s simple. Getting an individual policy seems like an obvious solution. But, when you have a family, even if you’re the only driver for now, it might be worth getting a family, or household insurance policy instead.
Under an individual policy, your passengers are automatically covered if you are in an accident. Of course, the same can be said of household policies. And a family policy protects you when it’s time for your spouse or children to start learning to drive since your insurance knows that there is a possibility of additional drivers.
But is it better to get a household policy or individual policies when you have multiple drivers in your home? This article talks about the differences between the two main types of family policies and the advantages and disadvantages of getting a family insurance policy.
Multi-Car or Single-Car Insurance
Before we talk about the advantages or disadvantages of household insurance itself, we should talk about the two main types of household insurance.
Multi-car insurance is exactly what it sounds like. You insure multiple cars under a single insurance policy. You can get multi-car insurance even as a single driver if you drive more than one car. This is a good option for drivers who have a daily driver in addition to another vehicle for specific circumstances.
Multi-car insurance is also suitable for households that don’t share vehicles, or that have at least two cars shared between the drivers. It gives you the advantage of having the same policy for all your drivers and vehicles, so you don’t have to keep track of different policy providers or coverage levels.
Single-car insurance is also self-explanatory. It’s an insurance policy that covers a single car. There are some insurance differences for a vehicle that is driven primarily by one person and a vehicle that is driven by multiple people.
If you have new drivers in your family, but they don’t have their own vehicles, this may be a great policy choice since it protects every driver without the additional cost of insuring the car under multiple individual insurance policies.
Having a shared family policy also protects you from having different levels of coverage, so you don’t have any surprises if you do have to make an insurance claim for the vehicle.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Family Insurance Policies
There are a few advantages and disadvantages to family insurance policies, and it’s important that you’re familiar with them before you decide what type of insurance you’d prefer.
Advantage 1: Less Administrative Headache
We’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but one of the most significant advantages of a family policy is having a single point of contact and the same benefits across your whole household.
It can also make it easier since you don’t have to alert multiple insurance companies if you trade in your vehicle for a new one or have other driver and vehicle changes. Simply call your insurance agent any time a household change occurs, and they’ll help make sure you have the coverage you need.
You also have a single bill to pay each month with a household insurance policy. It’s simple to stay on top of, and you don’t have to worry about missing a bill accidentally and having your insurance lapse. Keeping it simple takes some headache out of your monthly chores.
Disadvantage 1: Some Drivers Cost More to Insure
Of course, not all drivers are equal. Insurance companies recognize this and do their best to manage their own risk by assigning different types of drivers at different rates.
Drivers that are typically going to be high-cost are new drivers. Young drivers, in general, are more expensive. Insurance policies charge higher rates for drivers under 25 years of age. Young men can be even more expensive than young women since insurance companies tend to see them as more likely to take risks while driving.
Drivers with lots of tickets or accidents in their driving history are also more expensive to insure since insurance companies think they are more likely to have repeat traffic violations and accidents.
The last category you should be concerned about is drivers with DUI convictions. These drivers have consistently higher insurance rates, and it takes quite a while for insurance companies to lower the rate after a DUI.
Advantage 2: It’s Cheaper!
It may seem odd since insurance providers want to have lots of clients to spread the risk and reward evenly but having a family insurance policy is usually much cheaper than insuring each driver in your home separately.
Insurance companies have a couple of reasons to discount household insurance policies. For one thing, since they also only have to worry about a single plan for multiple covered individuals, it lowers the company’s administrative costs. They need fewer staff members to manage a household account than 3-4 or more individual accounts.
Family accounts are also an excellent way to get new drivers used to their insurance policies and to build brand loyalty. Since drivers are more likely to stay with an insurance company they know, household accounts are a good way to attract customers from new generations of drivers.
Whatever the company’s motivation, it’s great for you since it means more money staying in your pocketbook and less spent on bills.
When Household Policies Aren’t a Good Idea
Household insurance policies aren’t perfect for everyone, of course. We mentioned earlier that some people are more expensive to insure. In addition to being more expensive, some people aren’t eligible for family insurance plans. Multiple DUI convictions, lots of accidents, or other traffic violations make insurance more costly and may cause insurance companies to decide only to offer individual insurance plans to those people.
Even if you can cover your whole family in a single policy, it still may not be worth it if the extra costs of your family members outweigh the discount from the family policy. One option may be to use a household policy for some of your family members and get individual plans for some of your high-cost relatives.
But, if most of your household drivers fall into a high-cost high-risk insurance pool, insuring everyone individually might end up being the more cost-effective way of handling your insurance needs.
You can always re-evaluate every couple of years of safe driving since your family members may be cheaper to insure after they prove that they are lower-risk drivers.
Overall, family car insurance policies are a better bet for most households. Combined policies are cheaper, easier to administrate, and simpler to manage and maintain. The advantages of a family policy in both price and stress are hard to ignore.
However, once you have more than one or two high-risk and high-cost drivers in your family, a household insurance policy may no longer be as cost-effective. You can still try to consolidate plans by insuring part of your family under a household plan, or at least by staying with the same insurance company.
In the end, it depends on your specific situation as to whether a family policy is the best decision for you.
You should take some time shopping around for a good deal on your insurance, and remember that different companies might offer different types of policies and policy bundles.