How Renters Insurance Works If You Have Roommates

by Rowan Guthrie
Four twentysomething roommates laugh together while sitting on a couch in the living room of an apartment with moving boxes stacked up in the foreground, men, women, twenty-somethings, roommates, roomies, cohabitating, moving, moving day, moving boxes, boxes, living room, apartment, renters, rental unit, carpet, couch, natural light, laughing

Renting a place with roommates can be a great way to save money and meet new people.

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But when something goes wrong, such as damage or theft, it can get complicated in your shared space.

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Renters insurance protects you and your personal belongings from various risks, such as fire, theft and liability. It typically covers:

  • The repair or replacement of damaged or stolen personal belongings
  • Your legal expenses and any damages you might have to pay if you’re at fault
  • The medical expenses of someone injured on your property
  • Your additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable due to a problem covered by your policy
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Do All the Roommates Living in One Residence Need Their Own Insurance Policy?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the terms of your lease, your relationship with your roommates and your insurance company’s preferences. In general, there are two scenarios.

1. Sharing One Policy With Your Roommates

Some insurance companies allow you to add your roommates to your renter's policy as additional insureds, which means they’ll be covered under the same policy as you. This can be a convenient and cost-effective option, but there are some drawbacks.

  • You’ll have to split the coverage limits and the deductible with your roommates, which may not be enough to cover all your belongings or liabilities. For example, if you have a $30,000 personal property limit and a $1,000 deductible, and your roommate files a claim for $15,000, you’ll only have $15,000 left to cover your losses. You’ll have to pay $500 out of your pocket for the deductible.
  • You and your roommates will have a shared claims history and insurance record, which may affect your future insurance rates and eligibility. For example, if your roommate files a claim for a theft that occurred while they left the door unlocked, your insurance company may consider you as a high-risk customer and increase your premiums or cancel your policy.
  • You’ll have to coordinate with your roommates when you buy, renew or cancel your policy, which may cause conflicts or misunderstandings. For example, if your roommate decides to move out and cancel the policy without telling you, you may end up without coverage and be exposed to risks.

2. Separate Renters Insurance Policies for Each Roommate

Some insurance companies require you to have separate renters insurance policies for each roommate. This can be a more secure and flexible option with several benefits.

  • Your coverage limits and deductibles will be yours alone, which should be enough to cover your belongings and liabilities. 
  • You’ll have your own claims history and insurance record, which won’t be affected by your roommate’s actions or behaviors. 
  • You’ll have more control and autonomy over your policy, so you can choose the coverage, the company and the price that suits your needs and budget. If you want to switch to a different insurance company or cancel your policy, you won’t have to consult with your roommate or get their approval.

Can You Add a Roommate to a Renters Policy?

Some insurance companies allow you to add a roommate to your renter's policy as an additional insured, while others require you to have separate policies for each roommate. If you want to add a roommate to your renters policy, you’ll need to contact your insurance agent or company and provide them with your roommate’s name, date of birth and Social Security number. You may also need to provide proof of your relationship, such as a joint lease. You may have to pay an additional premium for adding them to your policy, depending on the company and the coverage.

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