Does My Renters Insurance Cover My Roommates?

“Does my renters insurance policy cover my roommates?” It’s a very common question. The short answer? It depends.

While it may not be the best option for most renters, sharing a policy is an option. However, before you sign that dotted line on a shared policy, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Use this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of roommates and renters insurance.

Can I Add My Roommate to My Policy?

First things first — in order for your roommate to be covered by your renters insurance, they have to be listed on the policy. However, before that can even happen, their name usually needs to be on the lease. That means subletters and friends temporarily crashing at your pad don’t qualify (sorry guys!). Keep in mind that the rules on sharing a renters insurance policy with unrelated roommates vary state by state, depending on insurance laws. Your agent will know all about the details.

So, Will All Our Possessions Be Covered?

If you and roommate decide to share a renters policy, there are few things to note regarding property coverage. All insurance policies have this pesky thing called coverage limits, which is the maximum amount of money an insurance company will pay you in the event your stuff gets damaged or stolen. Now here’s the tricky part: when you add a roommate to your renters policy, your coverage limit will not increase, and instead gets split between the two (or more) of you. So, if you do decide to add a roomie, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the combination of your possessions and decide whether your coverage limit is enough to cover the both of you. Check out the cost of renters insurance — you might just decide it's so affordable you may as well each have your own policy!

How Does Liability Work?

So here’s some good news — when it comes to liability coverage, most details of your basic renters policy don’t change. However, one thing to note is that theft from a roommate — whether they’re on the policy or not — is not covered by a renters policy. That includes other intentional damage as well — so make sure you choose your apartment buddy wisely! Here's some great tips for finding a roommate

Liability coverage is a part of your renters policy that helps cover the costs due to accidental bodily injury and property damage of others. It also will help cover the cost of lawsuit expenses should something happen in your apartment.

For example, if you’re found liable for breaking your neighbor’s window when playing catch, your landlord most likely won’t cover the cost to fix it — but your renters liability insurance will. Or if you were to start a fire in your apartment by leaving a pizza too long in the oven, your landlord might have you cover the cost to repair damages to the unit. Your liability coverage on your renters policy will help pay that price.

Okay, so What if One of Us Needs to Make a Claim?

When you share a policy with your roommate, making a claim is where things can get a bit complex. Should you file a claim, the reimbursement check will be made out to the both of you, which means even if the money is for covering damages that only affect your belongings, your roommate would still have to co-sign it.

One last point to make, is that any claims made on your shared policy — whether you or your roommate make them — will go on your personal insurance history. What does that mean for you? Well, it means that claim will be on your record and factored into any insurance quotes you get in the future, and can have an effect on how much you pay.

The Bottom Line

While it’s not recommended, sharing a renters insurance policy with your roommate is possible. Before you do so, make sure you’re on good terms and have an honest conversation regarding expectations. Once you’re both on the same page, you’ll both have peace of mind knowing you’re protected. Connect with an American Family Insurance agent to learn more about renters insurance and roommates.

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Related Topics: Renters