Nobody enjoys reading the fine print, especially when it comes to insurance policies filled with complicated terms, conditions, and clauses.
However, understanding your auto insurance policy is critical. Knowledge truly is power, particularly when navigating the aftermath of a car accident.
This is where Enjuris steps in.
One term that often piques curiosity is “stacking.” So, what does “stacking” mean in the realm of auto insurance?
Stacking refers to the practice of combining or “stacking” the coverage limits of uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) policies for multiple vehicles. Stacking can significantly increase the maximum an auto insurer will pay for a claim following a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Importance of UM and UIM coverage
Before we dive deeper into stacking, it’s important to understand that you can only stack UM and UIM coverage. Here’s why those two types of insurance so are important:
- UM coverage: This coverage kicks in when you’re involved in an accident with a driver who lacks insurance.
- UIM coverage: This coverage becomes relevant when the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t sufficient to cover all of your accident related bills.
Learn more about how to recover damages after an accident with an uninsured driver.
How does stacking work?
There are two main types of stacking:
- Stacking within a single policy (vertical stacking): Some states permit the stacking of UM and UIM coverage limits within one car insurance policy. For instance, if you insure two cars under one policy, each with a UM bodily injury coverage limit of $25,000, stacking would elevate your coverage limit to $50,000 for an accident.
- Stacking across multiple policies (horizontal stacking): In certain states, you can stack UM and UIM coverage limits across different car insurance policies. If you're named on two policies, one for your car and another for a family member's vehicle, and both policies have different UM coverage limits, stacking would combine these limits, offering you enhanced protection.
The pros and cons of stacking insurance
The choice to purchase stacked rather than unstacked insurance seems clear, right? If you opt for stacked coverage, you’ll have a higher overall coverage limit in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
However, there is one big disadvantage to stacking: higher premiums.
As with most things in life, increased protection comes at a cost. Purchasing stacked coverage means shelling out more in premiums every month. Though this can vary considerably from state to state and depending on your situation, the difference between stacked and unstacked coverage is typically about $100.
Which states allow stacking?
At the time of this publication, 36 states permit stacking in one form or another. However, the specifics of how stacking is implemented can vary widely. Some states may allow stacking within a single policy, others across multiple policies, and some might offer both options. Additionally, even if a state legally permits stacking, individual insurance providers might have their own stipulations or may choose not to offer it at all.
Here's a breakdown of the states that currently allow stacking:
States that allow stacking
States that prohibit stacking
It's essential to consult with your insurance provider and familiarize yourself with your state's regulations to understand your stacking options fully.
Auto insurance is more than just a mandatory document; it's a safety net for unpredictable times. While stacking might seem gratuitous, understanding its nuances can empower you to make informed decisions, ensuring that you're adequately protected on the road. Remember, in the realm of insurance, knowledge isn't just power; it's peace of mind.