In a word… Yes. While some insurance providers will let you add yourself to a roommate’s tenants insurance policy, allowing you to share the cost of the premiums, do NOT assume that you and your belongings are covered under their plan. Because the cold hard truth is that you are likely not.
Tenants insurance is designed to protect you, the policyholder, from damage or loss of property, as well as from liability should a guest get injured on the premises. It does not automatically cover the possessions and liability of a roommate just because you live under the same roof.
That’s why it’s best to have your own tenants insurance policy.
Moving into a new apartment with an old friend, or even someone you met through social media, can be an exciting experience. It can also be a disaster. Many a lifelong friendship has been made (and lost) while sharing a home together.
And while it may seem as though you can trust your mates not to sue you, or generally mess your life up in any way, when it comes to insurance, it’s best to maintain your own claims history and purchase your own independent policy.
Let’s delve into some of the reasons for this.
Why do many insurers insist on separate policies for roommates?
First of all, it’s important to make clear that you’re not covered just because you moved into an apartment with a roommate who already has tenants insurance. Your roommate’s policy only covers them and doesn’t extend to everyone else living under the same roof.
Yes, some insurance providers will allow you to put your name on a roommate’s policy, but others may insist on separate policies for each individual, and their reasons for this might just convince you that this is by far the better option for everyone. Here are some of the risks they highlight:
1. Complications arising from losses and claims:
Perhaps the biggest reason why you should not add your name to a roommate’s policy is that any claim they make will affect your claim history going forward. If they make a claim for a lost or damaged laptop, basically you just made a claim for a lost or damaged laptop, whether you know about it or not. Any claim on your record affects your premiums for five years.
Even more serious, if your roommate’s guest gets injured on the property, or is even bitten by their skittish Rottweiler and subsequently sues, the resulting suit could be astronomical. This would affect your premiums far into the future, well beyond your present living arrangement.
Risk: Their claim history is now your claim history.
2. Complications arising from payouts
If you make a claim, the payout will go to both of you, regardless of whether you made the claim together. So, you’ll need your roommate’s signature before you cash that cheque to cover your own lost or damaged property.
And if you make a claim together for a variety of lost and damaged items at the same time, there could be complicated arguments over how to divvy up the money fairly.
Risk: Payments for claims are made out to both you and your roommate, regardless of who made the claim.
3. Roommate turnover
It may seem like you’ll always be besties and will live together for quite some time, but people fall in love and get married, and friends do fall out with one another. And some roommates just move on to better opportunities elsewhere and forget to do something about that old insurance policy.
If your roommate moves out during the life of the policy, you may be on the hook for the rest of the premiums as you will need their signature to take them off the policy, or to cancel the policy altogether.
Risk: If your roommate disappears, you will be responsible for the life of the policy.
4. Cost sharing may not be an equal proposition
Quite simply, your roommate might have more stuff than you, have a more aggressive dog than you do, or have more guests over who could possibly injure themselves in your apartment. In short, your roommate might carry more risk than you. So how do you split the cost of the premiums fairly?
Also, how are you going to pay the premiums? All up front or on a monthly basis? If your roommate leaves, you could be left making the monthly payments yourself, or you may have to refund a prorated share of the premium to what is now your ex-roommate.
Risk: The size of your roommate’s property and potential liability might be greater than yours.
A separate policy just might be the best solution for the both of you.
DO NOT try to claim property that isn’t yours. Claiming a roommate’s belongings is considered fraud!
Why do I need insurance anyway? Wouldn’t my landlord have a policy?
Your landlord most certainly has an insurance policy for the apartment they are renting out. But it’s important to remember that your landlord’s policy basically covers them for any damage caused to the premises by fire and water, etc. It doesn’t cover your belongings or your personal liability.
In fact, many landlords will insist that you obtain tenants insurance before you even sign the lease. This isn’t necessarily because they care about your well-being, but because of any mishaps that might happen while you’re living there.
As a student, aren’t I covered on my parent’s policy?
Young adults who are still dependents while attending college or university are usually covered on a parent’s home insurance policy. But keep in mind that some policies limit the value of the child’s belongings that are covered, and usually only cover you if you’re away from home temporarily.
So, if you’re living away from home year-round, including summers, holidays etc., you probably are NOT covered under your parents’ policy.
So what does my individual tenants insurance cover me for?
Having your own policy will not only give you peace of mind and save you from some potential headaches and arguments with your new roommate going forward, it’ll also cover you for the following:
- Loss or damage to your personal property, both at home and away – such as a lost laptop or stolen luggage while travelling on vacation
- Personal liability, both at home and away – for example, if you plow into someone while riding an e-scooter in the park
- Items stolen from your car while parked out on the street
- Anything held in a separate storage facility
Due to the fact that each person added to a policy increases the likelihood of a claim, it should be clear why you’re not automatically covered under a roommate’s tenants insurance policy.
And because of the numerous things that can go wrong while sharing one policy with a roommate, it’s highly recommended, and sometimes insisted upon, that you purchase your own individual policy.
Call Mitchell & Whale today at 1-800-731-2228 to find low-cost tenants insurance that will help make your new living arrangement an experience to look back on with no regrets.