Having a roommate is a great way to save cash — on rent, on utilities, and even on groceries.
But what about with insurance? Can you team up on your renters insurance policy and split the bill, too?
The answer to that is more nuanced than you may think. While some insurance companies allow it, not all of them do. Even if they do, you may not want a shared policy due to the higher risk it comes with.
It’s possible to share a renters insurance policy, but it depends on your insurance carrier and the unique laws in your state.
Some states only allow policies to be shared between family members or spouses, so if you’re in one of these states (like Florida, for example), you won’t be able to split policies with an unrelated roommate.
If your state and insurance company do allow it, there are still some considerations you’ll want to take into account before signing up for a .
Let’s look at a few of these together:
First and foremost, you and your roommate should discuss coverage. Though adding them to your policy will cover them to some extent, it won’t protect all of their belongings unless you adjust the coverage limits.
Let’s look at an example: if your policy currently covers up to $25,000 in damages and you add on a roommate — without increasing coverage — then you’ll now split that $25,000 should a disaster occur. That means you’ll each have just $12,500 in property protected.
To make sure you’re both fully covered, you’ll need to increase your coverage limits to account for your roommate’s belongings.
You should also check your lease, as many landlords require a certain amount of coverage per roommate. You’ll need to be sure your shared policy accounts for this, as well.
Money is a big consideration when looking at insurance. While sharing renters insurance could make your insurance more affordable, it’s definitely not a given. Since you’ll need to increase your coverage limits to account for your roommate’s belongings, it could mean a higher premium, too.
To see if sharing a renters policy would be best for your budget, be sure to get quotes both individually and as a pair, with the added coverage you’d need for both your belongings. This will allow you to compare the two costs side by side.
Your stomach for risk is another consideration to keep in mind. After all, adding your roommate to your policy means increasing your risk. It makes you vulnerable to their incidents or mistakes, and any claim they file could hurt you — financially speaking.
It’s true: insurance claims are reported to CLUE — the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. This system is used by all kinds of insurance providers, including home and car insurers, to assess risk and price policies.
In short: having a claim reported on CLUE, even if it’s not your own, could mean higher premiums on other insurance policies, too.
Types of coverage
You should talk to your roommate about what types of they want. If they bring a high-dollar instrument to the property, they might want extra to protect that in case of or damage.
Similarly, you might want extra liability insurance in case your dog bites a guest or additional personal property coverage for your laptops and gaming system. All of these will come with higher premiums.
You’ll also need to agree on your deductible — or how much you’re willing to pay out of pocket when filing a claim. This will also impact your policy premium (lower-deductible policies typically come with higher costs).
Potential for disputes
Finally, your status as roommates should also come into play. If a dispute between the two of you were to arise, it could cause problems. You may have trouble getting their half of the premium, or if your roommate steals or damages your belongings, you may not be able to file a claim.
If one roommate leaves, it could also complicate things with your coverage and policy. In general, if you’re young, your career is in flux, or you’re still in school, there’s a good chance one of you will need to move in the near future. If this happens, you’d need to reapply or update your existing policy.
Make sure you have a conversation with your roommate about all these possibilities before deciding to split a policy.
Typically, it’s best to have separate renters insurance policies, so you both assume your own risk. Having your own policy also ensures you’re only paying for coverage for your belongings — not those of your roommates, which may be more or less valuable.
If you live with a family member, long-term significant other, or someone you really know and trust, sharing insurance might be a decent option, but make sure to weigh the risks vs. rewards before adding them to your policy. And remember: any claim they need to file could impact your insurance premiums for years to come.
Pros and cons of sharing a rental policy
- Potential affordability. You can split the costs of the premium.
- Ease and convenience. You’ll only need to fill out one application and can both report claims on the same policy.
- More coverage is required. Just adding someone to your policy isn’t enough. If you want both your and their belongings protected, it will require higher coverage limits.
- Different coverages. You and your roommate may require different coverages. Your belongings may also hold different values, which would make splitting the cost of your policy unfair.
- Higher risk. You’re at risk if your roommate files a claim. It could mean higher premiums on other insurance products, too.
- Potential for disputes. Things could get complicated if a dispute arises or one roommate needs to leave.
If you decide to share policies (and your state and insurance company allow it), here’s how it works — and how to reduce your risk along the way.
1. Get to know your roommate
You shouldn’t add just anyone to your insurance policy. Sharing a policy is best reserved for people you’re very close to — a sibling, family member, or potentially, a significant other. It should be someone you’ve known for a while and trust implicitly.
If your roommate fits the bill, make sure you talk to them about the consequences of sharing a policy, too. Let them know what claims could mean for each of you and make sure you’re on the same page about what coverages you want.
You should also discuss how claims money will be split if a claim occurs. According to Allstate, both roommates will need to endorse any check issued on a claim, so you’ll need a system for cashing the check and splitting the funds.
2. Take a comprehensive inventory of all of your belongings
Make note of each roommate’s belongings or, better yet, take a video of each roommate’s items — their furnishings, the contents of their closets and drawers, their electronics, and any other items of value. This will help you determine how much you’re both entitled to should one of you need to file a claim.
3. Discuss your coverages
You should sit down and have a talk about how much and what type of coverage you both want. You’ll need to think about how much you’re both willing to pay toward claims (the deductible) and what coverage limits you need. The inventory you took previously can help you calculate this number.
Make sure you discuss any special coverages you may want, too. Insurers sometimes offer add-ons for portable electronics, bikes, art, or collectibles.
4. Make sure you’re both on the lease
You’ll both need to be on the lease if you’re going to share an insurance policy. That means you can’t share a policy with a subletter or someone just temporarily staying with you.
If your roommate is not already on the lease, get with your landlord to remedy it.
5. Work with your insurance agent or start getting quotes
If you already have a renter’s policy and want to add your roommate to yours, you’ll need to call up your insurance company to adjust the coverage and add the new policyholder.
If you don’t yet have a policy or are just moving into a property, you can shop around for quotes. Keep in mind that not all insurers offer shared policies like this, so you may need to call a few before you’re able to begin the application process.
6. File claims as necessary
Once you have your shared policy, you can both file claims with your insurer. When your insurer issues a check, though, it will be issued to both of you, so be prepared to split the costs appropriately. The claim will also go on both of your records.
In some cases, could make sense, but it’s rarely the best decision.
If you do opt to share insurance, make sure you set clear expectations regarding how claims, bill payments, and coverage will be handled. You should also be prepared to take thorough stock of your belongings to ensure you’re getting appropriate coverage.