Renters insurance only covers the person who got it — so if you have roommates, they need their own

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  • Renters insurance covers only the insured policyholder, not roommates, so each roommate should have separate renters insurance.
  • College students living in dorms may be covered under their parents' homeowners insurance.
  • The average cost of renters insurance is $15 a month, or $180 a year.
  • Policygenius can help you compare renter's insurance policies to find the right coverage for you, at the right price »

College students living in dorms may be covered under their parents' homeowners insurance. However, a college student living off-campus or any other adult renting an apartment or house needs to have renters insurance. 

Renters insurance is basically liability coverage for your personal belongings, and it only covers the insured policyholder. It does not extend to other people living in the apartment or house. 

If you have roommates or are considering roommates, every roommate should have their own renters insurance policy. Your landlord may even require that each person on the lease has renters insurance. Don't worry: Renters insurance is surprisingly inexpensive.

Why roommates are not covered

Your renters insurance premium is based on the amount of money it would take to replace your belongings, not those of other people living with you. Typically, when you get renters insurance, you provide with the insurance company with a list of your belongings and the estimated value. Your coverage amount is based on that estimated value, which is why renters insurance is relatively cheap.  

If you are renting with roommates, each roommate should have their own renters insurance. If your roommate is your significant other, you might be tempted to add them on to your policy — but what happens if the relationship ends? Unless your roommate is your sibling, it is not recommended to add roommates to your renters insurance policy.

In the event of theft or damage, the items belonging to the insured renter are covered. Don't be tempted to list your roommate's belongings to your insurance claim: You may be committing insurance fraud, resulting in your claim being denied, your insurance coverage revoked, or worse, legal action being filed against you.

What is renters insurance?

The landlord has insurance to cover the building and structure. However, your belongings inside the rental unit are your responsibility. On a basic level, renters insurance covers your belongings from theft, damage, and unexpected events. Renters insurance policies cover up to a certain amount, usually around $20,000 or $30,000 worth of coverage.

Yael Wissner-Levy, vice president of communications at Lemonade Insurance, told Business Insider that renters insurance covers three instances:

  1. Things that happen to your stuff
  2. Things that you're responsible for
  3. Events that force you out of your home

Basic home belongings are covered, but you may need additional coverage for specialty items like wedding rings or jewelry, cameras, artwork, bicycles, or musical instruments. Some renters insurance policies will cover a portion of your costs if you have to temporarily relocate because your apartment was damaged.

Wissner-Levy noted that as a renter, you are protected from anything that suddenly causes water damage without any prior known issues, like the accidental overflow of water or steam from plumbing, heating, AC, or sprinkler systems. You're also protected if your apartment sprinklers go off and soak all your belongings, or if your pipes freeze in the winter and burst.

ItemsCovered by renters insurance?
Dwelling (structure)No
Personal liabilityYes
Personal belongingsYes
Loss of Use (additional living expenses)Yes*
Water damageYes

*Available as add-on coverage if not part of policy

How much does renters insurance cost?

The average cost of renters insurance is $15 a month, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Some factors that go into determining your premium are the amount of coverage you want, where you live, if you own a pet, and your credit score. If you already have auto insurance, you may get discounts for bundling your renters and auto insurance from your provider.

How to get renters insurance

Like homeowners insurance and car insurance, renters insurance can vary a lot by state. Where you live will play a big role in your quote, and each company will consider that differently. 

To be sure that you're getting the best price for your renters insurance coverage, you'll want to shop around and get quotes from several different insurers. Compare the quotes, and look for the most coverage types and limits. Then, look for the lowest premiums that fit your budget. 

Policygenius can help you compare renter's insurance policies to find the right coverage for you, at the right price »

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