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Sharing Renters Insurance with Roommates

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You’ll consider sharing renters insurance with roommates if you rent with others. But is getting renters insurance with roommates—whether a friend, romantic or domestic partner—a good idea? Let’s find out.

Can I Share Renters Insurance With My Roommate?

It may be possible to share renters insurance with your roommate. But much depends on your roommate relationship, your state, the insurance company providing coverage, and the policy. Some policies automatically cover relationships or domestic partners, while others don’t. 

If your roommate currently has insurance, but you do not, your belongings aren’t covered if your apartment burns down, gets robbed, or floods. Think of it as insurance protecting what’s inside of an envelope. Your landlord’s insurance protects the envelope itself or the building structure. 

Renters insurance covers your valuables if a fire occurs or thieves break-in at your rental. But renters insurance offers a few more advantages, too. In all, renters insurance usually covers the following:

  • Personal possession losses: Personal items damaged by a covered event
  • Liability: Pays medical and legal expenses for claims that you (or pets) caused injury
  • Additional living expenses: Costs of living elsewhere if your rental is damaged or destroyed), including hotels, meals, and more.
  • Unauthorized credit card use: Costs from someone using your credit card or committing forgery
  • Off-premises items: Personal possessions stolen or damaged while outside of your home

Loss coverage is limited to perils listed in your policy, including theft, lightning, explosions, fire, smoke, vandalism, and some water damage. For example, an overflowing upstairs toilet floods your downstairs apartment. Renters insurance doesn’t usually cover earthquakes or natural floods—you’ll have to get a separate policy for those disasters. 

Should Roommates Share Renters Insurance?

If you want to share renters insurance, know that a policy only covers you if your name is on the insurance policy. Your belongings and liabilities aren’t covered if your name isn’t on your roommate’s policy. Don’t ever claim against a roommate’s policy (or ask your roommate to do so for you) if you weren’t listed—it could be considered insurance fraud. 

Ask your agent or company representative about sharing renters insurance. Sometimes, it may be best to list all roommates on the same policy. In other cases, it’s not even possible. But if so, you must agree on various aspects of your insurance policy described below.

3 Things to Know Before Sharing Roommate Renters Insurance

If you think a shared renters insurance policy is the right choice, prepare to have some direct conversations about the following with your roomies. Discuss the following before you move in together or when adding a new roommate to your mix.

Coverage

To effectively share a policy, roommates must agree on the following:

  • Coverage limits: The combined value of all personal items, if destroyed
  • Coverage type: Actual value or replacement value?
  • Deductibles amounts: Your share of or “co-pay” for losses 
  • Liability limits: The most your policy pays if someone makes a medical or legal claim against you.
  • Coverage types: Will you add earthquake or flood coverage?

Add Roommate to Renters Insurance

Insurance companies limit how much cash they’ll give you if your possessions are stolen, damaged, or destroyed. If you add a roommate to a renters’ policy, you may find that these limits don’t increase but are split between the two of you if items are ruined or stolen. Ask if your insurance covers injuries caused by a pet—as some insurers don’t cover dog bites. 

Handling Claims Payments

Any reimbursement check for a claim applies to all roommates, so you’ll need endorsement cosigning from roomies, even if the incident in question damages your items. In a worst-case scenario, if you’re arguing with your roommate, your roommate can refuse to sign the check and prevent reimbursement.

Ownership of Shared Belongings

You’ll need to discuss with your insurance agent how to cover belongings shared between two or more roommates. In this case, it may be easier to share renters insurance, so everyone gets repaid if there’s a claim. You’ll also need to discuss possible claims when purchasing a big-ticket item with a roommate. To avoid disputes, take a written, photo, or video ownership inventory when moving in with roommates.

Saving Money

The average national premium for a renters policy was $174 or about $14.50 per month, according to the most recent data from the Insurance Information Institute. You may find your renters’ insurance policy more expensive or cheaper, depending on:

  • Your location
  • Who’s on the policy
  • Your deductible
  • What’s insured and for how much
  • Any history of claims. 

You might save money if you split a policy two or three ways—but if your roommate has a claim history, high-value items, an aggressive dog, or other risk factors, you may pay more. If possible, ask about getting an insurance rider for higher-value items or a separate liability policy for higher-risk roommates.

Cons of Sharing Renters Insurance with Roommates

Some policies only cover one individual renter within a rental and can’t be extended to non-family members living in the same home. That’s because of the cons regarding sharing renters insurance with roommates.

Limits on Claims

If you add a roommate to your policy versus a new, more comprehensive policy, you may be surprised by splitting coverage limits. Limits on category-specific claims could create problems if you and your roommate both own expensive items, such as Persian rugs, and a claim maxes out the category.

Boosting coverage (and claim amounts possible) increases costs. Still, increased coverage limits also lead to some roommates paying more than their share if one evenly splits costs, but only one person owns the high-value property. 

Your Insurance Record is at Stake

A roomie’s bad decisions can impact your financial stability if you share a policy. Imagine your roommate left his skateboard in the living room (again), and another roommate’s friend slips on the skateboard and breaks their leg.

  • The friend could claim against your policy for hospital costs because the injury happened in your rental. 
  • Claims made on a shared policy go on your personal insurance history, even though the situation didn’t involve your skateboard or friend. 
  • Claims on your insurance record can impact future insurance costs—someone with a track record of claims is seen as higher risk and pays for that risk.

In addition, if multiple people file claims due to one event, your rates could increase even more.

Shared insurance can create many legal headaches in several ways: 

  • A shared policy may not cover your claims when you need legal protection from your roommate if an accident or argument occurs.
  • Renters insurance won’t cover costs if your roommate steals something from you or intentionally breaks your gaming system or other possession. 
  • If your roommate’s dog bites someone and makes a claim, the bitten person could also sue you.
  • If one roommate presents a higher risk by owning an aggressive dog or leaving their car unlocked, shared coverage may cause disputes. 
  • A roommate may cause higher costs due to owning high-value items or a record of insurance claims.

Should Roommates Get Separate Renters Insurance

After considering the pros and cons, if you still want to share a renters policy with a roommate, find the right policy. A good policy will offer:

  • Coverage for all roommates, regardless of claims history
  • Property coverage up to replacement cost
  • Liability coverage including for pet-related injuries or damages
  • Affordable deductibles 
  • Easy-to-split, inexpensive insurance payments
  • The ability to easily changed renters insurance policies, as roommates will move in or out

You’ll need to adjust your policy whenever roommates change. If you can not find a high-quality policy, reconsider sharing a policy. In general, renters insurance costs less than $20 a month per person—not much for peace of mind and a more harmonious rental home.