Do all roommates need renters insurance?
Perhaps you’re fresh out of school and made the choice to move somewhere for university, or you and your mates just finished your undergraduate degree and are keen to all make the leap into the real world together. Or perhaps you and your partner just broke up (our condolences!) and need a new place, because making coffee in the morning while your ex is sleeping on the sofa is less than ideal.
Either way, living with roommates can be a cost-effective way to afford living in a pricey city while saving up for a place of your own. Living with roommates can also be a wonderful way to make new friends when you’ve moved somewhere new and don’t know a soul, or when you know you could use the built-in support network that comes from living with people who are all just getting started in life. Movie nights, group dinners, and drinks in the living room before a night out are all cherished aspects of living with roommates.
But it’s not all fun and games. Put several people together in small quarters, and things are bound to happen. Whether it’s unwashed dishes, your roommate using the last of your fancy body wash without asking, or someone bringing an unannounced guest over at 2 a.m. and proceeding to play Mumford & Sons at full volume: Cohabitation isn’t always the most harmonic.
And since roommates are people like you and me—meaning fallible and messy—the likelihood that they may break something or lose something or have someone over who accidentally destroys your kitchen is… not low. As a responsible adult, you probably already have renters insurance, also referred to as tenants insurance. That means that your insurance will cover damages to your personal property, as well as provide personal liability coverage in case someone who’s visiting you gets injured while in the property you’re renting. If you’re currently on a budget, you’ll be thankful that you’re not facing the costs of replacing your belongings or paying for someone’s medical bills on your own.
But does your renters insurance also cover your roommates? Let’s dive in:
Your rental insurance will not automatically cover your roommate
This is the bad news. Let’s say you have rental insurance and your roommate doesn’t, and your apartment was broken into. Your rental insurance would compensate you for the losses of your personal property, but your roommate’s on the hook for their stolen stuff. Insurance policies will usually only automatically cover people who are related to you, so unless your roommate is also your sibling, you’re the only one who’s covered.
The most immediate solution would be that every roommate gets their own renters insurance. However, thrifty individuals might think: Well, we’re already splitting the electricity bill and our Netflix subscription, so is there a way to split the cost of renters insurance?
Add your roommate to your policy
It depends on your renters insurance, but many insurance companies will let you add someone who isn’t related to you to your policy. That means that you could theoretically add your roommate, and have them be covered by your policy as well. However, many insurances have a limit on how many people you can add to your policy, so if you live with more people it might be necessary to have more than one roommate with renters insurance so that everyone is covered.
The good news is that, in addition to splitting the cost of your monthly premiums with your roommates, your insurance won’t charge you extra for adding someone to the policy. They’ll only charge you more if you change the terms of coverage.
What are the disadvantages?
You may be thinking that this sounds great, but before you rush to add your roommate to your policy, it’s worth taking a moment to weigh out the pros and cons. If your roommate who’s on your policy is particularly disaster-prone, you have to consider that any claims they make will reflect on your insurance history, even if you didn’t make the claim. This could affect any future insurance policies you may try to purchase. Providers will see the previous claims made and potentially charge you a higher premium, regardless of the fact that you didn’t actually make those claims.
As you can see, sharing renters insurance requires a great deal of trust. You have to trust that your roommates won’t ruin your insurance record. In the worst-case scenario, they may even misuse your trust and change or cancel the policy, or make false claims. The person who will be liable for any of this will be you. As such, you have to really trust the people you’re putting on your policy.
Roommate relationships can be a wonderful thing, but they can also go south really quickly. Everyone’s case is different, and only you can really evaluate what kind of relationship you have with your roommates. But if you really want to be on the safe side, it’s advisable that every roommate get their own renters insurance. That way, everyone’s covered, and there’s no opportunity for bad blood to arise. Unless your roommate once again leaves his dirty dishes in the sink for a week.
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