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Can I “stack” insurance policies?

Asked by user in South Carolina.

I was a passenger in a single car accident. I broke my humerus which required a plate and 15 screws. I'm from South Carolina and the driver is from Georgia. The accident happened in Tennessee. I’ve reached the driver’s policy limit and my uninsured motorist coverage limit. However, I have 2 vehicles under the same policy. I’m currently trying to pursue UIM on my 2nd car but my insurance company won’t allow me to stack coverage. The insurance company is applying Tennessee law, which doesn’t allow stacking, rather than South Carolina law, which allows stacking.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

I’m sorry to hear about your accident.

Many insurance policies contain a “choice of law” clause, which states that a certain state’s laws will govern the policy regardless of where the accident took place.

If the policy at issue doesn’t contain a choice of law clause (or if the clause is unenforceable as written), the court in which you file your bad faith insurance claim will determine which state’s laws govern the policy.

In most cases, the laws of the state where the accident occurred (in this case Tennessee) will apply, but that’s not always the case. If the lawsuit is filed in South Carolina, for example, courts have historically followed the lex loci contractus rule which applies the laws of the state where the policy was purchased and signed.

Choice of law determinations can be confusing. I would recommend meeting with an attorney in your area to discuss your options. Most initial consultations are free. When you meet with the attorney, be sure to bring along copies of all the relevant insurance policies (if possible). You can find an attorney near you using our free online directory.

Also, keep in mind that even if you can’t stack coverage, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party for any damages that exceed the policy limits.

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