If you share a home with a roommate and have renters insurance, you may assume your roommate is covered. However, renters policies usually exclude roommate coverage. Their personal property and liability is their responsibility.
Some insurance companies allow you to add a roommate, but you may want to consider these factors before you decide to risk it.
You Share a Claims History
Let’s say someone steals your roommates’ laptop and they file a claim. Their claim goes on your Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report, even though it had nothing to do with you.
This could mean you’ll pay more at renewal time, since your record now shows you’re a risky customer. Worse yet, insurance companies base risk on the number of claims and the severity. If your roommate files a substantial claim they could cancel your policy, making it harder for you to find another.
Who Pays What?
You might be great friends, but you probably don’t own the same value of belongings. If your friend owns many more expensive items than you, does it make sense to split the premiums?
What happens if you experience a total loss? Do you split the pay out or does each person get a portion based on what they pay? What happens if you pay less, but lose more?
What Happens If They Move?
If your roommate decides to move before the policy end date, will they pay the remaining premiums? Or will you end up paying for everything?
If you’re unsure of whether your roommate will stay put, you’d probably better off with your own policy.
Is It Worth It?
Is it even worth splitting the premiums when Value Penguin estimates a policy with $30,000 in personal property coverage, costs a person an average of $200 annually? That’s about $17 per month.
Insurance experts suggest it is almost always best to buy your own policy, file your own claims, and safeguard your insurance history.
If You Do Decide to Split the Cost
At times, policyholders do decide to list someone on their renters insurance. Typically, it is when the policyholder is the legal guardian of a sibling, they live with their partner, or they share a room at university or college.
Should you decide to split the cost of a policy, understand the implications. Each person should perform a home inventory to determine the value of what they own. Your insurance agent uses this information to tailor the policy to your needs. You can then decide how to split the premiums.
Have a frank discussion with your roommate regarding what will happen if either of you move. Also discuss how you’ll split the funds if one of you loses more items than another, should you need to file a claim.
Renters insurance may cost even less if you qualify for discounts. Buying your policy through the same company as your auto insurance often triggers a discount. You may also qualify if you’re a student with good grades or a member of an alumni association.