You can share renters insurance with a roommate if your insurer and state allow it. You’ll have to list your roommate’s name as an insured on the renters insurance policy. But many renters insurance companies require roommates to have their own renters insurance policies, meaning their belongings won’t be covered under your policy if they’re damaged or destroyed by a problem such as a fire.
The Risks of Sharing Renters Insurance With a Roommate
Even if sharing a renters insurance policy with your roommate is an option, there are several risks worth considering before doing so.
Determining the appropriate coverage amount for your belongings can be tricky. You’ll need enough renters insurance to compensate you for your belongings if they are stolen or destroyed by a problem like water damage from a burst pipe. This includes personal items like your furniture, clothes, electronics and jewelry. This task becomes more complicated if you include your roommates belongings, especially if they own any high-value items.
For example, your renters insurance policies may have a $1,500 sub-limit for the theft of certain types of items, like jewelry. That amount may not be sufficient to cover both you and your roommate’s jewelry if it was stolen. You may want to schedule personal property so you and your roommate’s high-value items are covered for the appropriate amounts.
Splitting premiums isn’t always simple. Splitting the cost of a renters insurance policy 50/50 may be the easiest way to share responsibility, but the cost-splitting decision could be complicated if you or your roommate don’t have the same amount of stuff. For example, your roommate might have more furniture and valuables than you do.
You’ll also have to figure out who’s going to pay the bill on a monthly basis. Your renters insurance company won’t bill you and your roommate separately.
Their claims will be on your insurance record. Filing renters insurance claims will affect your claims history. If you make claims you’ll be considered a higher risk, which leads to higher renters insurance costs in the future. Sharing renters insurance with your roommate could become problematic if they file claims on your shared policy that you have nothing to do with.
You may not save as much money as you think. Renters insurance can be very affordable. You can find $15,000 in coverage for about $14 per month, according to Forbes Advisor’s analysis of renters insurance costs. Splitting a small monthly bill with a roommate might not be worth the potential headaches that can come with sharing a renters insurance policy.
Renters Insurance With Roommates: Key Things to Consider
Before you and your roommate decide to split a policy, here are some key things to consider and discuss.
Personal liability renters insurance covers you for property damage and injuries you accidentally cause to others. For example, if a guest visits your apartment and trips over your shag rug, your liability insurance could pay for their medical bills, up to your policy limits. It also pays for your legal fees and costs if you get sued because of the accident.
If you share a policy with a roommate, that also means accidents caused by your roommate could result in a liability claim. For example, if your roommate’s dog bites someone and a liability claim is made, it will be reflected in your claims history, which could lead to higher renters insurance costs.
When you buy a renters insurance policy, you’ll set an amount for your personal property coverage. For example, your policy might have a $20,000 personal property limit. If you’re splitting renters insurance with a roommate, that means that coverage amount is for the total of both of your belongings, not $20,000 each.
This can get a bit tricky if one roommate owns more than the other. For example, if your roommate owns expensive bicycles, jewelry and electronics, it might not seem fair to split the renters insurance bill 50/50.
Joint vs. Individual Policies
The key difference between joint and individual renters insurance policies are:
- A joint renters insurance policy covers you and your roommate’s personal property and covers other types of problems, like accidental injuries caused to others and additional living expenses.
- An individual renters insurance policy will only cover you and won’t cover your roommate’s personal property. It also won’t extend other coverage types to your roommate, like liability coverage or additional living expenses coverage.
How to Choose the Right Renters Insurance Policy
Selecting the right renters insurance requires some consideration. Here are a few steps on how to get renters insurance:
- Determine how much coverage you need. Start by determining how much personal property coverage you’ll need for both of you by creating a home inventory. You can adjust other coverage types as necessary, such as the liability and additional living expenses coverage. Typically, you want liability coverage in an amount equal to what can be taken from you in a lawsuit.
- Identify renters insurance companies. A good place to start is with your car insurance company. That’s because you may qualify for a decent bundling discount by buying both auto and renters insurance from the same company. You can also look for companies that offer coverage types beyond the basics, such as identity theft restoration services or water back-up coverage.
- Compare prices. Once you’ve identified a few companies, compare renters insurance quotes. You can find quotes on the insurer’s website, by calling an independent agent or by using a comparison website that provides quotes from multiple companies.
- Pick a company and apply. After you figure out how much coverage you need and check out renters insurance quotes, you can pick an insurer and apply. If your application is approved, you can often get coverage on the same day.
Tips for Sharing Renters Insurance With a Roommate
Sharing renters insurance isn’t like sharing a streaming service. There’s a bit more at stake than deciding what to binge watch. Here are some tips for sharing renters insurance with a roommate.
Take Stock of What You Own
The best way to do this is for you and your roommate to create a home inventory of what you own. A good home inventory will contain:
- A description of the item or group of items
- Estimated value
- Purchase date and receipts when available
- Serial numbers
To streamline the process between you and your roommate, consider using an app such as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ home inventory app. It allows you to take pictures of your belongings, scan barcodes and export your inventory.
Consider Your Roommate
Getting a renters insurance policy with your roommate is a commitment. Before moving forward, consider the following:
- If you change roommates, you must update your policy each time.
- Disputes with roommates can complicate the insurance claims process.
- If your roommate files a claim for a problem covered by your policy, it will be reflected in your claims history, which could result in higher renters insurance costs.
Have an Honest Conversation With Your Roommate
An honest conversation with your roommate can help you avoid future headaches. You’ll want to discuss who pays the monthly premiums and how you would divide claim payouts.
For example, when you receive a claims check, your insurer will make the check payable to everyone listed on the policy. You and your roommate will both have to endorse the check and decide how the funds will be distributed between the two of you.
Talk to an Agent
An insurance agent can help you determine how much renters coverage you and your roommate need. An agent can also help you decide if it makes better sense for you and your roommate to get individual renters insurance policies.
Ask About Bundling
If you or your roommate have a car insurance policy, you may be able to score a discount if you bundle your auto and renters insurance. But this isn’t necessarily always the best option. You may be able to find a better deal buying a renters insurance policy separate from your auto insurance, so make sure you compare prices.
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