Keep It To Yourself: Roommates Should Have Individual Renter's Insurance Policies

Robin Wells

If you're sharing a home with other people who aren't in your family, it's a given that your budget will be cheaper because you're not paying the full cost or rent and utilities. But renter's insurance is not an item you want to share. Part of that has to do with how premiums are calculated, but a lot of it also has to do with how to ensure people are paying a fair proportion.

Splitting the Check, the Premium, and the Deductible

Unless you and your roommates lead magical lives, you're going to have different amounts of stuff. And that stuff will vary greatly in value -- your computer might be worth a lot more than your roommate's computer, for example. It would be unfair to make someone with very little stuff pay a large percentage of a high renter's insurance premium that's shared with someone who has a lot of stuff. But actually calculating percentages and extra pennies gets annoying after a while. If you have your own policies, there's no division necessary.

The same goes for the deductible, which is really a more contentious issue. If you're handling deductible payments, that means you're waiting for the insurance agency to reimburse you for a claim. On a joint policy, the company will issue only one check. If you have two or three people on that policy, you're going to have to be sure you trust the person to whom the check is made out, because he or she will have to give you the money you're supposed to get from the payment. You're not going to get your own check unless you have your own policy.

Increasing Premiums

As you add more items to the list of things to insure, your premium will go up. This isn't a cost like electricity, where chances are all of you are using close to the same amounts at the same times, so any increased usage has a minimal effect on your bill. With renter's insurance, you could end up paying the same amount or more as an individual policy if your roommates have enough items.

Breaking up Is Hard to Do

When someone moves out, you then have to recalculate who pays what, if there are still multiple people on the policy, or you have to be prepared to modify the policy quickly if you're the only one left in the home. If there are any lingering costs, like the person moving out was late in paying his or her share, it could be difficult to get the money from him or her.

If you and your housemates are interested in renter's insurance, contact agents, like those at Angel Auto Insurance, near you now -- and ask about individual policies.