Can you get renters insurance without a lease?

You can get renters insurance without a lease. In fact, it would be unwise not to.

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Zack SigelManaging EditorZack Sigel is a former managing editor at Policygenius who oversaw our mortgages, taxes, loans, banking, and investing verticals.

Updated|4 min read

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Renters insurance protects you from the financial risk that your belongings will be destroyed or stolen as well as from the liability you may incur if somebody gets injured in your home. Many landlords require their tenants to purchase renters insurance whether or not the tenant is signed to a lease.

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You can get renters insurance without a lease. In fact, it would be unwise not to. And if you are on a lease but your roommates are not, they can still be covered by your renters insurance policy or purchase one of their own.

If you have renters insurance and a covered peril causes the loss of your personal property, the renters insurance company will typically pay to replace it. But when the same peril also destroys your uninsured roommates’ stuff, he or she will not be able to seek reimbursement from your renters insurance company whether or not he or she is on the lease.

Renters insurance without a lease

If you don’t have a lease when you rent an apartment, you’re considered a tenant at will. You can still get renters insurance. Your renters insurance policy will cover your belongings when they are destroyed or stolen, any expenses you’re liable for when someone is hurt in your home, and any additional living expenses you incur when your home becomes uninhabitable.

Any immediate family members, meaning people related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption, are also insured by your policy.

This coverage applies whether or not you have a lease. In fact, the insurance company may not even ask to see a copy of your lease when you apply. In most cases, the only information you need to supply is your current address, plus the value the belongings you’re insuring, and potentially a bank statement or utility bill.

Additionally, your renters insurance premiums won’t be affected by whether or not you’re on a lease. If you’re not on a lease, you’ll pay the same amount for renters insurance coverage as someone who is on a lease – roughly $10 to $20 per month.

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Renters insurance for a roommate not on the lease

Any family member who is part of your household should be insured under your renters insurance policy, even if you don’t have a lease. Your family may be implicitly covered by your policy. Usually, family members not implicitly covered are listed in the section called “named insureds” at the beginning of your policy. Check with your renters insurance company to confirm that your family has coverage.

Adding a nonfamily person to your renters insurance policy

Anyone not considered family in a legal sense is not automatically covered by your renters insurance policy. That means your domestic partner, including your girlfriend or boyfriend, as well as any roommates and subletters who need their own coverage. In order to get coverage for them, you need to explicitly tell your renters insurance company to add them to your renters insurance policy. If you signed the lease for your apartment but your domestic partner or roommates did not, they can still be added as an “additional insured.” Additional insureds may also be called an “interested party.”

Adding an additional insured will raise your premiums. However, each additional insured will be entitled to the same coverage as yourself. That means if a fire breaks out and destroys both the TV you own and the couch your domestic partner owns, your renters insurance coverage will reimburse both of you for your respective property.

Note that some carriers limit the number of additional insureds you can add to your renters insurance policy. If you reach that limit, anyone not covered needs to purchase their own policy.

Separate renters insurance policy for roommates and partners

If your roommates, your own tenants living the residence premises, or your domestic partner want renters insurance, but don’t want to be on your policy, they can purchase their own renters insurance policy. You don’t need to have signed the lease to purchase your own renters insurance policy, and it’s possible for every member of the household to have their own coverage, whether on the lease or not.

While many insurers offer similar coverage, the terms of each policy may differ in ways that may be unfavorable to your needs in some cases and favorable in other cases. Policygenius can help you shop around for a renters insurance policy that fits all your coverage needs, and one of our licensed representatives can even help your roommate get on your policy if needed.

Renters insurance for students living in dorms

Renters insurance covers your stuff wherever they are in the world, even the property that belongs to another member of our immediate family. When your children go off to college, or even to boarding school, they may be living somewhere that doesn’t require a lease, such as a dormitory. Nevertheless, their property is covered by your renters insurance policy until they turn a certain age, which will be defined by your policy.

Renters insurance for a short-term guest

Guests in your home are covered by your renters insurance as long as they are only staying temporarily. That includes people who pay you for short-term accommodation, as through a vacation rental service like Airbnb, or who are just couchsurfing for a limited period. You have to also be living at the residence premises for this coverage to apply.

Guests who stay a long period of time may be considered a tenant or boarder of yours. Under that designation, such long-term guests are not eligible for coverage unless they’re added to your renters insurance policy.