Getting a roommate? Make sure it’s somebody you like and trust.
That’s good advice in general. But when you’re looking to buy renter’s insurance, your choice of roommate has potential consequences far beyond dirty socks in the bathroom or molding Chinese in the fridge.
Clear communication among roommates is important with everything from buying groceries to buying an insurance policy.
To start, most insurance companies won’t write a renter’s policy for more than two unrelated people sharing an apartment. The liability risk is just too high.
With two unrelated people sharing an apartment, the risk is more manageable for the insurer. It can work, but you’ll want to make sure both you and your roommate understand the policy. Keep this in mind, too: The same rules apply if you’re living with your significant other but you’re not married. Insurance doesn’t distinguish between a girlfriend or boyfriend you’ve lived with for 10 years and a co-worker you’ve known for a month who’s sharing your split-level in Brooklyn.
Going in together on insurance gives both residents equal rights to claim benefits under the policy for damage or theft. In the case of a fire, for example, a joint claim that itemizes possessions destroyed or damaged results in the household getting one check payable to both residents, and it’s up to the two of you to decide how to divvy up the money.
It gets even trickier when you have a policy that requires the permission of only one party to change the policy, say lower the coverage amount from $50,000 to $20,000. You can imagine the problems that might cause. If you have a roommate who goes behind your back to change the policy, or changes it and forgets to tell you, you could be in for a nasty surprise when you have to file a claim and the damage exceeds the coverage amount.
Other companies offer policies that require approval of both parties for any policy changes. We write renter’s policies through Travelers, and we’ll take direction from either party. But we usually want confirmation from both parties before we make a major change on something as important as coverage amounts. It just makes sense, and it can prevent a bad situation at home.
We want to find you and your roommate the best possible coverage at the lowest possible cost.
Fill out our quote request form or give us a call at the number above to learn more about how we can help you find the right renter’s policy for you and your roommate.
Barry Frost, Vice President, Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc.