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Does renters insurance cover roommates?
No, renters insurance doesn’t cover your roommates unless by default, although you can contact your insurer and specifically add them to your policy.
That’s assuming that your roommate isn’t a member of your family. If they are, your insurance might already cover them. In addition to you, the policyholder, renters insurance automatically covers the following people if they live in your home:
- Your spouse
- Your relatives (both adoptive and blood relatives)
- Any dependents who are in your care
Your policy doesn’t cover anyone else by default. Like we said, if you want to extend coverage to someone else, you need to contact your insurer.
How do I add my roommates to my renters insurance?
Adding people to your renters insurance policy can get complicated because the process varies by state.
Call your insurance company and let them know you want to share your policy with your roommate. They’ll help you navigate the process.
Your roommate has to be on the lease
It’s important to note that you can only share your policy with your roommate if both of you are co-tenants, which means that both of your names are on the lease.
You can’t share your renters insurance policy with someone who isn’t your co-tenant, even if they’re living in your residence full-time. You also can’t share insurance with someone you’re subletting the place to — as far as your insurer is concerned, subtenants aren’t “roommates.”
Adding your roommate as an additional insured
When you add someone to your renters insurance policy, they’re referred to as an additional insured, or a secondary policyholder. That’s in contrast to you, the primary policyholder.
As an additional insured, your roommate will receive liability and property protection under the terms of your renters insurance plan.
Why do people share renters insurance policies?
Some people choose to share renters insurance because it sounds simpler than having more than one renters insurance policy. After all, when you already share a lease with your roommates, sharing an insurance policy can feel like the logical next step.
People sometimes choose to share insurance when they co-own most of their valuable belongings, like their furniture and electronics. If you split the costs of most of your valuable possessions, insuring them together makes sense.
However, sharing an insurance policy comes with significant downsides, which we cover below.
How does renters insurance work with roommates?
When you share renters insurance with your roommate, it affects your coverage, the claims process, and your premiums.
Renters insurance coverage with a shared policy
When you add your roommates to your renters insurance policy, your total coverage doesn’t increase. You have to split the coverage that used to protect you between multiple people.
For example, let’s say you have $20,000 worth of possessions, and your policy provides $20,000 in personal property coverage. If you add your roommate to your policy and their possessions are also worth $20,000, your total home inventory will be worth $40,000, but your policy will still provide $20,000 in coverage.
If there’s a serious fire in your apartment, half of your things — and half of your roommate’s things — will effectively be uninsured.
If you’re thinking about sharing an insurance policy, everyone involved should make an inventory of their possessions. If your policy doesn’t provide enough coverage to protect everyone’s things, you either need to add more coverage to your policy (which will cost money), or just get separate policies instead.
Your landlord might not allow you to share coverage
In every state but Oklahoma, your landlord can require renters insurance as one of the conditions of your lease. They can also specify how much coverage you have to buy. If they do, sharing a policy with your roommate might not be acceptable to them, because it dilutes the coverage that each of you receives. If you’re thinking about sharing a policy, check with your landlord first.
Filing a claim with a shared policy
When you have a shared policy, filing a claim is a bit more complicated. No matter who files, both you and your roommate need to co-sign the claims form.
Your insurer will record the claim in both of your insurance histories. If your roommate files a claim on your shared policy, your future insurance premiums (i.e. your monthly fees) will go up because your insurer will perceive you as a bigger risk, even if the claim had nothing to do with you.
Renters insurance doesn’t cover theft by additional insured parties
When you add your roommate to your policy, you also lose the ability to file a property claim if they steal your property. Normally, renters insurance covers theft by your roommates — but not when they’re insured under your policy.
If you share insurance with your roommate and they steal your Nintendo Switch, you’ll have to work it out on your own.
How premiums work when you share a policy
If you’re the primary policyholder (i.e. you originally bought the plan and it was issued in your name), you’re responsible for paying the insurance bill. Assuming you want to split the cost with your roommates, you’ll have to collect money from them every time your insurance premium is due.
This goes both ways — if your roommate is the primary policyholder, paying for your insurance is their responsibility. If they miss a payment, your coverage will be affected, too.
Missed payments often result in late fees, a lapse in coverage, and a reinstatement fee. They also make you look unreliable to your insurer, which in turn makes them less likely to renew your policy, and makes it harder for you to get insurance in the future.
Does each roommate need renters insurance?
Yes. Everyone living at your address needs renters insurance, and we recommend that you and your roommates each buy separate policies.
To recap, we don’t recommend sharing a policy for the following reasons:
- It divides your coverage: When you add another person to your policy, you have to split your preexisting coverage between the two of you.
- Filing claims is more complicated: When you file a renters insurance claim with a shared policy, you and your roommates all need to co-sign it.
- Your roommate’s claims affect your future premiums: This is the case even if you weren’t involved in any way.
- Responsibility is shared unequally: Even though you all receive the same coverage, all of the responsibility for paying your premiums falls on the primary policyholder.
- You have less control: If you share a policy and want to change how much property or liability coverage you have (or add a new kind of coverage with a rider), you have to make sure your roommate agrees with you.
For all the reasons above, buying your own policy is safer and less headache-inducing than sharing one. If you’re worried about the price of renters insurance, don’t be — it’s the cheapest kind of insurance. Getting your own policy will only cost you about $15 per month.