How to get my renter's insurance to cover the whole apartment
April 21, 2006 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I have renter's insurance; my roommates don't. Some of our "common area" things (TV, couch, microwave) belong to them. If I purchased these items from them for a paltry amount ($1), would my insurance cover them should an emergency occur?

Taking it further, what if I purchased everything they owned from them for $1- would my insurance have to cover damages for all the property in the apartment?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mightnt they only be covered for that paltry amount? What does your policy say?
posted by rbs at 11:44 AM on April 21, 2006

I have replacement value insurance.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:45 AM on April 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you own the stuff when the loss occurs, then it's covered. It doesn't matter if they gave you the items as gifts, or if you bought them new, or picked them up at a garage sale.

Not an an answer to your question, strictly, but... would it be easier for them to pay part of your premium, so you can all "share" the insurance?
posted by wryly at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2006

Would it be easier for them to pay part of your premium, so you can all "share" the insurance?

I don't think so, because the premium does state that it's for MY belongings, and not the belongings of my roommates.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:57 AM on April 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I just had a fire and had my roommate put on after the fact by an understanding insurance agent. Outstanding eh? He told me that all I had to do was call and tell them his name, and the price would have been the same.

I doubt that'll work for you, so why not call and ask how much the premium would change if you did this.
posted by jon_kill at 12:02 PM on April 21, 2006

In the case of the TV, couch, and microwave, it's at least plausible that you would own all these things. "Buying" 100% of their possessions is going would only make it obvious to an adjuster that you were trying to scam them and you'd be putting yourself at risk for fraud charges (which it is).
posted by BackwardsCity at 12:03 PM on April 21, 2006

(Though I'm not a lawyer, and so I suppose maybe it wouldn't be fraud. Why risk it though? I'd do what jon_kill says.)
posted by BackwardsCity at 12:04 PM on April 21, 2006

Probably not the answer that you are looking for, but why would your roommates "sell" these to you. Then, down the road, you can look at them and say that the common area things are yours... that you have the paperwork to prove it. I know I wouldn't do it. Renters insurance isn't that expensive. I would strongly push your roommates to get it.

Just being the devil's advocate.
posted by heybate at 12:09 PM on April 21, 2006

You have a point, heybate, but I don't want to play mommy to my roommates. I'm looking out for #1 here- if there is a fire, *I* need a couch, *I* need a microwave, *I* neeeeeeed a TV.

{/sarcasm} I really do love my roommates, promise.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:12 PM on April 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Renter's insurance is usually very explicit in saying it only extends to family groups. Your unrelated buddy needs his own policy. It's a scam but it's typical.

I have never had to collect on mine so I don't know what kind of hassles they are predisposed to give about other uninsured people in the house, though my expectation is always that the ins company will do whatever is conveniently in their power to keep payouts low.
posted by phearlez at 12:48 PM on April 21, 2006

My roommate was on my renters' insurance and we paid $22/month for something like $50,000.00 in coverage. Just put 'em on the policy. Shouldn't be a hassle.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:23 PM on April 21, 2006

If (a) your insurance policy covers everthing in your apartment that you own, and (b) you make a bona fide purchase of your roommates' property, then everything should be covered under your policy.

However, it sounds like there would be a serious question as to whether your purchase is bona fide, i.e., not designed solely to create artificial insurance coverage for your roommates' stuff. It's not as simple as buying the items for a dollar. What counts is the substance of the transaction: is this a real purchase, or is it really just a temporary transfer solely for purposes of extending coverage for items you don't own? If the latter, it starts to resemble the type of transaction big companies have been getting in trouble over in recent years, where a swap or purchase deal is completed that superficially looks real but really lacks any economic substance due to side agreements or wink-wink understandings. (I'm not really comparing you to Enron, but you get my drift.)

Would a claims adjuster investigate all of this? In your first hypothetical, probably not, since it's plausible that you really do own the common area items. In your second example, as BackwardsCity points out, probably so, because your assertion that you own *all* of your roommates' stuff (e.g. their clothes) will be suspicious.

For whatever it's worth (and recognizing that this goes beyond the scope of your question), I agree with others in this thread that the best course is to add your roommates to the policy. Note: I have not researched any of this and it is not legal advice.
posted by brain_drain at 4:34 PM on April 21, 2006

My boyfriend added me to his renters contents insurance a year or so back. He totally didn't need to, our belongs are seperate, I can't afford my own insurance and don't pay anything towards his, and I didn't ask, but he figured we'd been living together for years so it was silly only having his stuff insured. And he's nice.

The thing to keep in mind though is that, while it didn't add anything to the cost of the premium, it also didn't add anything to the amount insured. So if we did have a fire we'd still only get ten grand's worth of replacement regardless of what I own. We've recently realised that two people's stuff = twice as much worth, so he needs to increase the amount insured (which will cost more) otherwise it's pointless having me on the contract.

So if you do become responsible for your flatmates possessions (by buying them or whatever) you'll need to make sure your policy is adequate to cover everything. If it is then it's likely that the easiest thing would be to just add your flatmates to the contract so everything is covered.

(note that I'm in New Zealand so our insurance laws and regulations may be different, although it doesn't sound like from previous answers)
posted by shelleycat at 9:31 PM on April 21, 2006

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