Renters Insurance and Roommates: Can You Share Coverage?
Whether you’re renting a house or an apartment, it’s important to get coverage against losses or damages to your personal items.
You know that renters insurance can provide such coverage.
That said, if you have roommates, you might have valid concerns:
- How does this coverage work between roommates?
- Can roommates share a policy?
- Or do they need their own?
Here’s what you need to know about renters insurance, including what it covers and how to save money on a policy.
How to Get Renters Insurance With Roommates
Getting a renters insurance policy is simple if you’re single or married. But if you’re renting a house or apartment with roommates, you might question how to buy a policy.
Typically with renters insurance, a policy only protects the policyholder and relatives living in the home.
So if you’re roommates with your brother or sister, they’ll receive coverage under the policy for as long as you live together.
However, this doesn’t apply to unrelated roommates.
The good news:
Insurers allow roommates to share a policy. For this to work, you and your roommate must put “both” of your names on a single policy.
Some people prefer to share a policy because it’s often cheaper than getting their own policy.
Instead of both paying $15 or $20 a month, you can split the premium and pay around $8 or $10 each.
But although an option, splitting a single policy doesn’t always make sense. And, sometimes, it’s better for each roommate to have their own policy.
Disadvantages of sharing a renters insurance policy include:
- If your roommate files several claims against the policy, these claims will also appear in your insurance history. And unfortunately, you could end up paying higher insurance premiums in the future.
- Rental insurance rates are based partly on the value of personal belongings. So if your roommate owns many expensive items, this will increase the overall cost of the policy, meaning you’ll pay more. It might be cheaper to have your own.
- If your roommate is irresponsible with money, they might not pay their share of the insurance bill on time.
What to Consider Before Sharing a Policy With a Roommate?
If you have a roommate, ask yourself these questions when deciding whether to share or get your own policy.
1. Can you trust this person?
Be honest and consider whether you trust this person.
The other person’s name might not appear on the lease. And if so, consider whether you’re ready to link your personal finances and insurance history with them.
If you’re merely roommates — and not friends — it might be best to keep your finances separate.
2. Take inventory of your personal belongings
You should also evaluate the value of your individual personal belongings. This helps determine an adequate amount of insurance coverage.
If the total value of your personal belongings won’t drive up your insurance costs, and you’re comfortable sharing a policy, it might be okay to share one.
But if you own less expensive items than your roommate, or vice versa, it might be fair for each person to have their own policy.
Instead of splitting the premiums 50/50, you might consider another option such as a 70/30 split.
3. How long do you plan to live together?
It can also make sense to share a policy if it’s a long-term arrangement.
But if you’ll only live together for a few months or less than a year, consider getting your own policies. This way, you don’t have to shop for another policy once someone moves out.
How Does Renters Insurance Work?
Insurance is something many people need but hope to never use.
It’s common for homeowners to buy homeowners insurance before closing on a home. Yet, some tenants never think about buying renters insurance before moving into a rental.
Although not required by law, some landlords might require proof of a policy before you move in.
But even if your landlord doesn’t have this as a requirement, getting a policy makes good financial sense.
Your landlord will likely have a policy for the house or building. In which case, they’re protected against damages to the structure or any of “their” personal property.
But if a fire or natural disaster damages the home and contents inside, their policy doesn’t cover a tenant’s personal belongings.
So without renters insurance, you would have to replace your clothes, electronics, and other personal belongings out-of-pocket.
Coverage with a renters insurance policy includes:
1. Personal property
This is likely one of the most important components of a renters insurance policy. It covers your personal property, meaning your insurer pays the cost to replace certain items after a covered peril. Covered perils include theft, fire, windstorms, and others.
Also, this policy might cover personal property outside of your home. For example, someone might break into your car and steal a handbag or electronics.
But although renters insurance protects your personal property, make sure you’re familiar with coverage limits.
You can choose between an actual cash value policy or a replacement cost policy.
With actual cash value, your policy takes into account depreciation and only covers up to the current market value of an item. With a replacement cost policy, it’ll replace your items at today’s cost.
Actual cash value policies are cheaper, yet you’ll pay more out-of-pocket after filing a claim.
Your renters insurance policy will also provide liability protection. This means you’re covered if you cause damage to another person’s personal property.
If an injury occurs in the home and you’re liable, liability covers the injured person‘s medical bills, too. A typical renters insurance policy provides $100,000 in liability coverage.
3. Loss of use coverage
After a fire or natural disaster, your rental home might be uninhabitable. If so, renters insurance also provides loss of use coverage.
Your policy will pay your additional living expenses, which includes temporary living in a hotel or finding another place to live.
This part of your policy might even reimburse your food expense.
How to Save on Renters Insurance
Fortunately, renters insurance is relatively inexpensive. Even so, premiums can vary from provider to provider.
Here’s a look at ways to save money, whether you’re buying insurance with a roommate or on your own.
Ideally, you should get free rate quotes from at least three insurance providers.
You can request these quotes online. Once you have the information, compare premiums, coverage details, and other costs.
Bundle and save
If you have another type of insurance — such as life insurance or auto insurance — contact these providers and ask about loyalty discounts.
Providers often reduce premiums when customers have more than one policy with the company.
Maintain good credit
Your insurance premiums don’t appear on your credit report. But many insurance companies will check your credit history before issuing a policy.
Customers with the highest credit scores often receive the lowest rates. To improve your credit, pay your bills on time and pay down your credit card balances.
Make the home secure
Adding safety features to the home can also reduce your monthly premium. This includes installing a burglar alarm, if allowed by your landlord.
You can also save money by renting a property with a fire alarm, fence, and deadbolt locks. Keep in mind that local crime rates also impact your premium.
Choose a higher deductible
When you file a claim, you’re responsible for the deductible. This is your out-of-pocket cost before your insurance covers losses or damages.
Deductibles are typically $500 with renters insurance, but you can save by increasing your deductible to $1,000.
Automate your payments
Keep in mind, too, that some insurance providers will offer a discount if you make up automatic payments.
They’ll automatically draft premiums from your bank account every month.
Some renters might view renters insurance as optional. But it’s highly recommended, especially since your landlord’s insurance doesn’t protect your personal belongings.
Fire, theft, or natural disaster can cause significant damage to your items. And without proper coverage, you’ll have to replace everything on your own.
Renters insurance is a small price to pay for protecting your items — and your peace of mind.