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Stacked vs. Unstacked Car Insurance

What is stacked insurance? What is unstacked insurance? Here are the answers – plus how they differ and which is better.

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If you have uninsured and underinsured motorist car insurance (UM/UIM) for more than one vehicle, you can “stack” their coverage limits. If an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you, combining the UM/UIM coverage of both vehicles will increase your policy limits.

Read the rest of this article before you contact your insurance company about it, though. Stacking car insurance isn’t always as easy as asking for it.

What you’ll learn here:

What is stacked insurance?

You have stacked insurance when you combine your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage limits on multiple cars or policies.

By combining or stacking your uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage limits, you can boost the amount of protection you have against drivers who either don’t have car insurance or don’t have enough of it.

Basically, stacked auto insurance lets you borrow UM and UIM coverage from another vehicle when needed after an accident.

What is unstacked insurance?

Unstacked insurance is what you have if you only have one car or if you have multiple vehicles but don’t combine their UM and UIM coverage limits.

In other words, if you don’t go out of your way to stack these coverage types, you have unstacked or non-stacked insurance.

What is the difference between stacked and unstacked car insurance?

The difference between stacked and unstacked insurance is that stacked insurance combines the UM and UIM coverage limits of multiple cars or policies while unstacked insurance doesn’t combine them.

What is better – stacked or unstacked insurance?

There are pros and cons to both stacked and unstacked car insurance, so it’s tough to say one is better than the other.

  Stacked Insurance Unstacked Insurance
Pros
  • More protection against uninsured or underinsured drivers
  • Cheaper
  • No hassle
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Some states don’t allow it
  • Some companies don’t allow it
  • Less protection against uninsured or underinsured drivers

Should you get stacked or unstacked insurance? To answer that question, read through the advantages and disadvantages above. Then contact your insurance provider. Find out if it’ll even let you stack your UM and UIM coverage limits. If it will, get a quote.

Actually, get quotes from a few other insurers, too, and then compare rates. That alone should take you a long way toward figuring out if stacked or unstacked insurance is better for you.

How does stacked insurance work?

When you “stack” your car insurance, you multiply the uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage limits you have on multiple vehicles or policies.

For example, if you have two cars, you can double your UM and UIM coverage on them. And if you have three cars, you can triple that coverage.

So, if you have two cars and each one has $20,000 of UM and UIM coverage, stacking could raise your limit on both to $40,000.

A few things to keep in mind about stacked insurance:

  • You must have more than one vehicle. You don’t need to have more than one policy, though. You can stack multiple cars within a single policy. Or you can stack them across multiple policies.
  • You can only use stacked coverage if you get into an accident that wasn’t your fault and the other driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough of it.
  • You need to stack your UM and UIM motorist coverage before you get into an accident, not after it.
  • To stack multiple policies, they all have to be in your name.

How do you file a claim with stacked insurance?

How you file a claim with stacked insurance depends on if you get into an accident caused by someone with no insurance or not enough insurance.

If you get into an accident caused by a driver with no car insurance:

  • You start by filing a claim against your own UM coverage.
  • Should that not cover your medical bills, you can turn to your stacked uninsured motorist coverage.

If you get into an accident caused by a driver with not enough car insurance:

  • You start by filing a claim against the other driver’s liability coverage.
  • Should that not cover your medical bills, you file a claim against your own UM and UIM coverage.
  • If that isn’t enough, you can turn to your stacked UM coverage.

Can you reject stacked insurance coverage limits?

Yes, you can reject stacked uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage limits.

If you reject stacked insurance limits, each of your vehicles will have their own UM and UIM coverage limits.

Most insurance companies will make you sign a waiver when rejecting stacked UM and UIM coverage limits.

Which states allow stacked insurance?

Not every state allows stacked car insurance. Alaska and Tennessee are two examples. Still, a lot of states do let you stack UM and UIM coverage limits to increase your protection against uninsured drivers.

Here are the states that currently allow stacked insurance:

State Allows Stacking Within a Single Policy Allows Stacking Across Multiple Policies
Alabama Yes, up to three vehicles Yes (no limits)
Arkansas Yes, but companies can refuse Yes, but companies can refuse
Colorado Yes, but companies can refuse No
Delaware No Yes
Florida Yes Yes
Georgia No Yes
Hawaii Yes No
Indiana Yes, but only in certain cases No
Kentucky Yes, if a single premium is paid Yes, if a separate premium is paid for each vehicle
Mississippi Yes Yes
Missouri Yes Yes
Montana Yes Yes
Nevada Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes, but companies can refuse Yes, but only in certain cases
New Jersey Yes No
New Mexico Yes, but companies can refuse Yes
New York Yes No
North Carolina Yes No
Ohio Yes, but companies can refuse Yes, but companies can refuse
Oklahoma No Yes
Oregon No Yes
Pennsylvania Yes, but only members of the insured's household can stack Yes, but only members of the insured's household can stack
Rhode Island Yes Yes, if a separate premium is paid for each vehicle
South Carolina Yes, but companies can refuse Yes
Texas No Yes
Utah No Yes, but only for UM coverage
Vermont Yes, but companies can refuse Yes, if a separate premium is paid for each vehicle
Virginia No Yes, but companies can refuse
West Virginia Yes, but companies can refuse Yes
Wisconsin Yes, but companies can refuse Yes, but companies can refuse
Wyoming No Yes
Source: American Property Casualty Insurance Association

All other states don’t allow stacking within a single policy or across multiple policies.

Which companies allow stacked insurance?

Many insurance companies will let you stack UM and UIM motorist coverage if you have more than one car or policy.

Some won’t, though, so the only way to find out one way or the other is to contact a bunch of them and ask.

Start by contacting the best insurance companies. If you strike out there, or if you don’t like the rates they quote you, try smaller or regional providers.

How much does stacked car insurance cost?

The only thing that can be said for sure here is you’ll pay more for stacked insurance than you will for unstacked insurance.

What you pay for stacked insurance depends on several factors, including:

  • Your car insurance company
  • Where you live
  • How much UM and UIM you have or want

Although stacked insurance almost always costs more than non-stacked insurance, it doesn’t always cost a lot more. Keep that in mind as you shop around for this kind of coverage.

 

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