Multi-car breakdown cover

If you have several cars at home, find out whether a multi-car breakdown insurance policy could help save you hassle and money.

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Multi-car breakdown cover might make sense if you have several cars in your household, as all cars are protected with breakdown cover, no matter who is driving. Read our guide to see how multi-car breakdown cover works and if this cover for 2 or more of your cars could save you money.

What is multi-car breakdown cover?

Multi-car breakdown cover typically lets you include a number of cars under 1 breakdown policy rather than having to take out separate policies for each car in your household. This can potentially save time, money and hassle.

How does multi-car breakdown cover work?

Although policies will vary between providers offering the breakdown cover, you will generally be able to include more than 1 car and sometimes up to 5 cars registered at the same location or address.

Importantly, while the cars typically have to be registered at the same address, the same person doesn’t have to own all the cars covered by a multi-breakdown policy.

Who might want to take out multi-car breakdown cover?

The way that multi-car breakdown cover works could make it a viable option in a few circumstances, including:

  • A family with 2 or more cars at the same address
  • A group of friends living together, each with their own car

In some cases, even students temporarily living away from home may be covered under some multi-car breakdown policies, provided their car is registered at their home address. Some breakdown providers let you cover other vehicles, such as vans or motorbikes, under a multi-car policy, too.

What are the different types of multi-car breakdown insurance?

As with single car breakdown cover, there are a couple of options with multi-car breakdown cover:

  • Standard breakdown cover. In exchange for an annual premium, you’ll be covered automatically for any call-out or recovery charges that are included in the level of cover you have bought.
  • Pay-and-claim breakdown cover. You’ll still pay an annual premium, but it’s typically a bit lower than standard cover from the same provider. If your car breaks down, you pay for the call-out or recovery of your vehicle at the time and then claim the costs back from the breakdown insurer. Pay-and-claim insurance is pretty rare these days.

What is included in multi-car breakdown cover?

The most important factor affecting what you get with multi-car breakdown cover is the level of cover you choose. The most basic cover will only include roadside assistance, while top-level policies will include all of the features we’ve highlighted below.

  • Roadside assistance. If your car breaks down away from home, you’ll get roadside assistance to try and fix your car on the spot. If your car can’t be repaired at the roadside, you’ll be towed to a local garage.
  • Home assistance. Roadside assistance won’t cover you if you break down at home or within a certain distance of home (typically between a quarter of a mile and a mile). Home assistance ensures you can call on help if your car won’t start or you break down at or close to home.
  • National recovery. Regardless of where your car breaks down, with national recovery you can choose where in the UK you would like your car towed for repair work if the mechanic is unable to fix your car at the roadside. This can be helpful if you break down nowhere near your final destination.
  • Onward travel. This will ensure your journey can continue even if your car can’t immediately be fixed. You could get a replacement car or tickets for public transport. In some cases, you may be covered for an overnight stay.
  • European breakdown cover. Covers you if you break down while driving on the continent, saving you the hassle and expense of dealing with a breakdown on unfamiliar roads, and potentially in an unfamiliar language.

The finer details of the policy will vary between insurers – for example, some providers may limit the number of callouts you can make per year. Be sure to read your policy document carefully to ensure you have the right level of cover for your needs.

What’s not included in multi-car breakdown cover?

Common exclusions that could invalidate your breakdown cover or limit your ability to call out your provider include:

  • Failure to maintain your car. General maintenance of your cars, such as oil checks and tyre checks, is important to ensure the vehicles are safe to drive.
  • Breaking down on private land. The recovery vehicle may not be able to access the land you’re stranded on.
  • Breaking down as the result of a collision. Recovery may be delayed while emergency services tend to the scene of an accident. Some policies may also exclude breakdown recovery following a collision.
  • Too many callouts. While some providers place no limits on the number of times you can request assistance, others may have annual caps or refuse to come out for the same issue multiple times.

How many cars can I add to a multi-car breakdown policy?

It depends entirely on the provider. Some have limits of just 2 or 3 cars. Others may be happy to cover up to 6 vehicles.

Does multi-car breakdown cover me or my vehicles?

Multi-car breakdown cover is primarily about the vehicles. Under a multi-car policy, you and the members of your household will (typically) only be covered to drive the specific cars named on the policy.

However, you can get a form of multi-car cover where each driver has “personal breakdown cover” – meaning that any driver named on the policy can call the breakdown service for any car they’re driving or are a passenger in. This is often called “family cover“.

Is multi-car breakdown cover the same as family breakdown cover?

Not quite, though they’re similar in that they both allow multiple members of a household to drive multiple cars.

  • With multi-car breakdown cover, drivers will usually only be covered to drive the vehicles that are specifically named on the policy. Because cover is vehicle-based, you usually need to state the vehicles but not the names of each driver; anyone driving the vehicles will be able to use the breakdown service.
  • Family cover” covers the people named on the policy, rather than the vehicles. Typically, each member of the household that’s named will have personal breakdown cover. This means they can call for assistance if any car they’re driving or are a passenger in breaks down; the cars don’t have to be listed on the policy.

The differences aren’t always clear cut though, and different providers may use the names slightly differently. We suggest not getting hung up on names and simply checking exactly what a policy covers.

How much does multi-car breakdown cover cost?

As always, this will depend on a few things, including:

  • Level of cover. With the same provider, a basic roadside assistance policy is likely to be much cheaper than a multi-car policy that includes home assistance and national recovery, for example.
  • The number of cars you add to the policy. Typically, each car you add will cost less than the first vehicle, so you’ll probably pay less for insuring 3 cars with the same provider than using that same provider to buy 3 separate policies.
  • The specific car(s). Some providers vary their premiums depending on a car’s details – for example, its age and make.

There can be some big differences between providers too, and for individual breakdown cover, the cost of comprehensive cover with some providers can be just as cheap as opting for basic cover with other providers.

So, just because one provider offers discounts for insuring multiple cars on the same policy doesn’t mean it’ll automatically be a better deal overall than buying separate policies from a provider that has much lower premiums in the first place.

What extras can I add to multi-car breakdown cover?

In addition to breakdown cover, there may be other types of cover that could prove beneficial. These might include:

  • Caravan/trailer cover. This will cover caravans or trailers that might be attached to one of your cars and also require protection.
  • Wrong fuel cover. Cover to get you back on the road if you accidentally put the wrong fuel in the car.
  • Key replacement cover. Cover if you can’t find your keys or if they’ve been stolen or damaged.

    Does car insurance include multi-car breakdown cover?

    Probably not. Not many car insurance policies include breakdown cover as standard, though it may be an optional extra. Those that do are likely to only include cover for the car that’s insured. It doesn’t hurt to check your car insurance policy before splashing out on a separate policy though, especially if you have a multi-car car insurance policy.

    How can I lower the cost of my multi-car breakdown insurance?

    • Review whether multi-car breakdown insurance is the best option for your needs. If you’re an individual who wants breakdown cover in several cars, you might be better off with a personal breakdown policy. This covers you for any car you’re driving or are a passenger in.
    • Check the cover level and features. Decide on an appropriate level of cover and check that the features suit your needs. For example, a policy may include EU breakdown cover as standard, rather than you having to pay extra for it with another policy.
    • Shop around. Do your research and compare breakdown cover deals to find the best deal. If a provider that’s cheap for individual cover doesn’t offer multi-car policies, compare the cost of buying its separate policies against multi-car cover with other providers. Keep in mind the cheapest policy isn’t always the best policy, so check the policy details carefully to avoid being stranded if your car breaks down.

    Pros and cons of multi-car breakdown cover

    Pros

    • Offers cover for multiple cars in a household regardless of who drives them
    • Likely to be cheaper than separate policies with the same provider
    • Potentially less hassle and less paperwork to keep track of

    Cons

    • In some cases it may not be cheaper than separate breakdown policies
    • All cars must usually be registered at the same address
    • Personal cover may be cheaper for a single driver who wants breakdown cover for multiple cars

    Bottom line

    If you want breakdown cover for several cars that are registered to the same address, there’s a good chance that multi-car breakdown cover could be a simple way to save you money compared to buying separate policies. But don’t assume it’s definitely the case. Compare what’s on offer from multi-car breakdown providers with the cost of individual cover from a wide range of suppliers. And focus more on what you need from your breakdown cover than on what it’s called. There’s a chance that personal breakdown cover, family breakdown cover or something that the provider gives an entirely different name might suit your needs better.

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