You like your roommate. You trust your roommate. But should you both be on the same renters policy?
The answer, in most instances, is “No,” even though some insurance companies will allow it.
Renters insurance covers your belongings, along with providing protections for loss of use, liability, etc. Roommates are not included by default on a policy, even if you’re both on the lease. Also, there’s no “insurable interest” between roommates, which means they typically don’t have any financial interest in your stuff, and you don’t have any in theirs.
To put it another way: If you didn’t renew your lease, you’d take your things, and they would take theirs. It’s not like a divorce, with a lot of shared property. (Although maybe you’d both fight to take that rice cooker you bought together and never used).
Here are three reasons not to share a renters policy with a roommate:
- If they get sued, you could get hurt. Say your roommate’s dog bites somebody. If it’s even covered (some policies exclude certain dog breeds), a shared policy means you could be part of the lawsuit. That would be a hassle, and it might mean higher premiums for you down the road.
- Your stuff isn’t all the same. Does your roommate have expensive items, such as jewelry? If they have a lot of valuables and you don’t, you could end up paying more than your fair share for coverage.
- It’s more complicated than sharing the power bill. First of all, sharing a policy means you need to make sure your roommate pays their part of the bill. But things can really get complicated if there’s a claim. The check will be made out to both of you, even if it’s just your stuff that was damaged or stolen. If they don’t sign it, you can’t cash it. (Important note: If your roommate steals your stuff, it is not covered by renters insurance... and it's probably a good time to find a new roommate, too.)
While you already share a place with your roommate, you probably don’t need to share your insurance. Having your own policy will provide the protection you need, usually at a very affordable price.
Feel like you’re paying more for homeowners insurance than you used to, it's a safe bet to say your feeling would be correct. Over the past 20 years, homeowners insurance rates have increased over 50% across the United States.
You no doubt want to make sure your home is protected, but you don’t want to pay more than you have to, either. Here are a few tips you can do to make sure you get the best deal on homeowners insurance:
- Shop around. Rates can vary dramatically from one company to another - and there are hundreds of different insurers that offer homeowners insurance. If you haven’t researched the market in the past 24 months, it makes sense to shop. Paschall Insurance Group can help, and since we aren’t tied to one insurance company, we are able to offer you plenty of options.
- Increase your deductible. This one change can help significantly reduce or even eliminate your annual premium increase altogether. If making this change you should still be diligent about keeping funds set aside in case a claim needs to be filed.
- Don’t file small claims. If a homeowners claim would cost less than $1,000, it probably doesn’t make sense to file it. Insurance companies track customer claims, and even a claim of a few hundred dollars could cause a client to miss out on “loss-free” discounts.
- Bundle with auto or umbrella insurance. When you buy insurance for your home and car from the same company, you usually get a significant discount on both policies. Other policies, such as umbrella insurance, might qualify, too.
- Maintain good credit. In most states, insurers offer discounts to applicants with high credit scores, so keeping a solid credit history can lower your insurance costs. To protect your credit rating, pay your bills on time, keep outstanding balances low, and monitor your credit report regularly.
- Review your policy carefully. You likely are eligible for a number of discounts and credits, so make sure you get them! Homeowners often receive discounts for having newer homes, multiple policies with the same company, good credit and a clean claims history. Even your proximity to a fire hydrant might save you money. And if your situation has changed, let your insurer know immediately as you could be eligible for even more discounts.
- Improve your home security and safety. Deadbolts, burglar alarms, and other security devices are all ways to keep your home safe and potentially lower your insurance costs. For example, an alarm that connects to police, fire, or other monitoring stations can save you as much as 20% on your homeowners premium.
Keep in mind that different companies offer different discounts, and options will vary depending on where you live. It is important to sit down and review your policy with your agent every couple of years. The insurance market is constantly changing so make sure you are always getting the best coverage at the best price for your insurance needs.
It’s Not Just a Quote, It’s a Relationship
Shopping for insurance? You may think you’re simply looking for an insurance policy. But, perhaps, what you’re really looking for isn’t a “what” but a “who” - someone you can trust to guide you through the plethora of insurance choices, rather than trying to make sense of all the options yourself online. That someone is an insurance agent, but there are countless agents out there – not to mention different types. So, how do you choose? Use these four steps to select the type of agent that’s right for you and find one you want to work with to purchase, review and manage your policies on an ongoing basis.
1. Know the Types of Insurance Agents
Some insurance agents represent only one insurance company. These are known as direct, or captive, agents, and they are direct employees of the company whose policies they sell. Any policy he or she sells will be from that company, and that company only.
An independent insurance agent, on the other hand, represents a number of different carriers, oftentimes as an employee of a local agency in your community. An independent agent isn’t restricted by what any one carrier offers, so he or she has more flexibility to help you explore a broader range of options. .
2. Get Recommendations
The best way to predict what kind of service you can expect from an agent is to find out what kind of service he or she has provided in the past. Ask for recommendations from family, friends and neighbors, and then ask for more details.
- What does your friend or co-worker like about that agent?
- Have there been any problems or complications?
- Was the agent helpful, attentive and friendly?
- Was the agent knowledgeable, answering all questions satisfactorily?
- Most importantly, were the agent and the company he or she represents dependable, timely and supportive through the process of resolving a claim?
3. Research the Agency and Agent
Once you have a few recommendations in hand, it’s time to research your prospective agents, the agencies where they work and the companies they represent. Here are a few places to check:
- The website of your state’s Department of Insurance. Here you can likely see any complaints, investigations or disciplinary actions against agents, as well as ensure they have an active license. You can likely look up information about various carriers, as well.
- Local chambers of commerce or the Better Business Bureau.
- The agency’s own website, which should outline their services, the types of insurance they offer and the carriers they represent.
- Online reviews, such as on Google and Yelp, for the agency.
4. Interview the Agent
Your research paid off, leading you to an agent in your area who seems like a good match for you. Now’s the time to ask some tough questions to be sure. Tell the agent what you’d like to insure, and ask how he or she would be able to help. If you or a friend has gone through difficult insurance experiences before, ask how he or she would deal with a similar situation. Ask if he or she gets involved in the claims process, or ask any of those other questions you’ve always wondered about insurance. Pay attention to whether the agent offers specific examples or speaks in generalities, as well as to whether he or she is talking about insurance in a way that makes sense to you. You can also ask for references. A prospective agent may be able to give you a quote at this point. But, what you really want is a sense of how well you could work with this person. Is this someone with whom you can communicate easily and in whom you can place your trust? Because, when you’re shopping for an insurance agent, you’re not just looking for an attractive quote. You’re looking for a good working relationship that can endure through new cars or homes, fender benders, storm damage and much more.
Clients often think they don’t need renters insurance — “Nothing I have is worth that much,” they’ll say, or “I don’t have a lot of stuff.” That’s how most people think of renter’s coverage: protection for stuff, and nothing more. After all, it’s inexpensive and it doesn’t even cover the structure itself. So how important can it be, especially if you don’t think you have anything valuable to protect? Plenty important, because you have more to protect than you realize. You just have to stop thinking only about “stuff.” Here are three key financial protections a renters policy provides:
Loss of use coverage. What would you do if a fire or other issue forced you out of your home? You’d have to find a temporary place to stay, maybe even for months — which might cost you more than your normal rent. Loss of use helps cover that and other additional expenses.
Personal liability protection. If someone trips and injures themselves in your unit, they could sue you. If your dog bites one of your guests, they might file suit, too. Yes, lawsuits happen — even among friends. Renters insurance can help cover legal expenses and even judgments against you. (Some dog breeds may disqualify you from coverage, so be sure to inform your agent of all dogs in the household.)
Personal property coverage. Wait, doesn’t this mean your stuff? Well, yes. But really, this coverage protects your finances. Even if you don’t think you have anything valuable, take a minute and mentally add up everything you own (note that if you do have any high-value items, such as jewelry or heirlooms, you may need additional coverage). Now imagine how much it would cost to replace it all. It’s probably a higher number than you thought — and that’s why renters insurance is so important.
Millions of us enjoy warm weather every year by swimming in our backyard pools and relaxing in hot tubs. Tragically though, over 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools each year. The American Red Cross suggests owners make pool safety their priority by following these guidelines:
- Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.
- Keep children under active supervision at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool—never allow anyone to swim alone. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Ensure everyone in the home knows how to swim well by enrolling them in age-appropriate water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
- Keep your pool or hot tub water clean and clear. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes or more serious diseases.
- Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “swim with a buddy” and “walk please.”
- Ensure everyone in the home knows how to respond to aquatic emergencies by having appropriate safety equipment and taking water safety, first aid and CPR certified courses.
These tips may seem simple and obvious, but if followed properly they can and will save lives!