Roommates weigh benefits of joint renters’ insurance

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Q: My roommates and I are buying a lot of things for our house, and we're splitting the costs. We want to get renters' insurance, but don't want to buy individual policies. Do you think we can purchase just one policy -- and will it cover our individual property, too? --Marie R. A: You're wise to be thinking of one policy. You'll be dealing with just one premium and one deductible. Here's how a joint policy will work: Loss to a roommate's personal property. Suppose your bike is stolen, but nothing else. The insurance company will write a check for the value of the bike, payable to all three of you (minus the deductible), and it will be up to you and your roommates to make sure the check goes to you. Loss to jointly owned property. Suppose there's a burglary and the stereo and television that all of you own are taken, along with some personal property belonging to each of you. Again, you will receive one check made out to all of you, and will have to do the math to make su...