When you are shopping for an auto insurance policy, you may come across stacked and unstacked insurance. If you are not familiar with auto insurance or are a first-time buyer, you may be a bit confused as to what stacked insurance can offer as opposed to unstacked insurance. Essentially, stacked insurance lets you increase coverage limits so you can receive a bigger payout following an accident with a driver lacking proper insurance. How it works and if you should purchase it are explored in better detail below. When it comes to auto insurance, you want to make sure you have enough coverage so that you aren’t financially on the line. Part of being insured may require stacking insurance. It is important to know the ins and outs before settling on a policy.
What is Stacked Insurance?
Stacked insurance is the process of combining multiple uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits in order to receive a bigger payout in the event of a collision. When you obtain uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you will be covered for two things: property damage and bodily injury. This coverage will assist you should you end up in an accident with a driver lacking liability insurance. If you are looking into stacking insurance, you will only be able to combine bodily injury coverage limits. This means you have the chance to receive more from your insurer in order to cover any medical expenses that are a result of the accident. The information outlined below can help you decide if you need to go about stacking or if unstacked insurance is sufficient.
Stacking only works if you have insurance for more than one vehicle since it requires you to combine coverage limits. You will also have to go about adding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if it is not already required for drivers in your state. Stacking insurance does not work on liability insurance or any other add-ons like collision and comprehensive coverage. It is just there to assist you if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver.
What Are Coverage Limits?
All of this may seem like gibberish so far if you are unfamiliar with coverage limits. Coverage limits are simply the maximum amount of money your insurance provider will pay out to cover damages and medical expenses in the event of a claim. You have the ability to adjust these coverage limits. There is a minimum amount of liability coverage mandated by nearly every state, which you must follow in order to be considered a legal driver. You are more than welcome to increase your limits, but they cannot go below the state-mandated amount. As a general rule of thumb, the higher your coverage limits are, the more your insurance will pay out when you file an accident claim. These limits can be adjusted for pretty much anything on your insurance policy, like collision coverage, liability insurance, and uninsured/uninsured motorist coverage. This piece focuses on the policy limits surrounding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and how you can, essentially, get the most out of them if you accumulate medical bills after a collision with such a driver.
How Does Stacked Insurance Work?
There are two different ways you can go about stacking your uninsured/underinsured motorist auto insurance. You can either combine multiple coverage limits from different cars under the same policy or pull coverage limits from multiple policies and multiple vehicles. These methods are referred to as vertical and horizontal stacking, respectively. It is important to remember that this is only able to be done for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Attempting to stack other policy add-ons will prove to be unsuccessful.
Vertically stacked insurance is the process of taking multiple coverage limits from different cars that are on the same policy. For example, suppose you have two cars, both insured under one policy. Each car has an uninsured/underinsured motorist limit of $50,000. If you have an accident with a driver who is uninsured while you are in one of these vehicles, you can file a claim for $100,000. You are essentially filing a claim for each vehicle ($50,000 x 2 = $100,000) in order to get more of your medical expenses covered.
Horizontally stacking means that you combine multiple coverage limits from different policies. This can only be done if you have the policies with the same insurance company and both policies are under your name. This works even if the policies are for different types of vehicles. For example, if you have $15,000 coverage for one policy and $30,000 on another, and if you end up in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you can file claims under both policies for a payout of $45,000. This is another case where you are filing two claims for the same incident in order to try to get more of your medical expenses covered. Remember, stacking only gives you the chance to get your medical expenses covered. Property damage coverage limits cannot be stacked.
Do You Need Stacked Insurance?
Legally, no. You do not need to stack your insurance. It may be a regular practice for car insurance in some states, as will be explored in a later section, but drivers can easily opt out of it. The only requirement several states have is that you carry a certain minimum amount of liability insurance. Even in this case, stacked insurance only applies to uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, which a number of states do not require their drivers to carry. This is typically just an additional step you can take to ensure you have greater coverage if you end up in an accident with someone lacking insurance. You should take time to analyze this type of insurance to get a better understanding of it is right for you. Like with any other kind of purchase, it comes with its own pros and cons.
What is Unstacked Insurance?
Unstacked insurance is what your auto insurance policy defaults to. Unstacked insurance means that the policy limit you have is all that your insurance will cover. You cannot combine limits from another policy or vehicle in order to get more coverage following an accident. For example, if you have two vehicles, each with a $50,000 policy limit for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, your insurer will only pay up to $50,000 for medical expenses accumulated after an accident. You cannot stack them to receive a $100,000 payout. Insurance typically works like this until you stack coverage.
How Much Does Stacked Coverage Cost?
It is hard to give a definitive answer for how much stacked insurance will cost you, but, in general, it will be slightly more expensive than unstacked insurance. This is mainly due to the fact that your premiums are dependent on coverage limits. With stacked insurance, you are essentially asking for higher coverage limits which then results in your rates increasing. However, the increased costs may be worth it due to the fact you get more coverage when you stack. You also have the chance to shop around for policies and premiums that best fit your budget. If you feel you truly need this kind of coverage, it may be worth it to do some extra research.
Which is Better: Stacked or Unstacked Insurance?
As you have been presented with both sides to stacking insurance, you may be wondering what truly is better: stacked vs. unstacked insurance. A lot of it comes really down to personal preference. There is no absolute answer to which will be perfect for you. The best way to decide on this is to analyze the pros and cons of each. Insurance of any kind is a personalized thing, and you need to do what is best for your own circumstances. For some, that means stacking insurance is the way to go, while others do not have much of a need for it.
Pros And Cons of Stacking Insurance
The biggest pro when it comes to stacking insurance is the coverage. Being allowed to stack limits will help you receive a bigger payout which means you have less to pay for following a collision. It seriously helps if you end up in an accident with a driver who does not have the proper liability insurance to pay for your medical bills. Accidents can get very pricey very fast, and this is one of the best ways to protect your finances. There are more uninsured drivers out there than you may actually realize. However, getting extra coverage can cause you to have higher premiums. This may be caused by the expanded coverage limits. More coverage means higher rates, traditionally. You will really have to weigh the cost with what you get out of it to determine if this would be a reasonable, budget-friendly decision.
Pros And Cons of Unstacked Insurance
Unstacked insurance comes with its own benefits. With unstacked insurance, you typically have lower coverage limits than with stacked, meaning your insurance premiums will be a bit lower. Costs may be one of the biggest factors when it comes to determining insurance. Of course, you want to be protected, but no one should have to break the bank in order to do so. You also do not have to worry about stacking regulations when keeping insurance unstacked. It is just like obtaining any other insurance policy. Unstacked also means you do not have to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you feel you do not need it. You could just carry liability insurance if you so wish to. But on the other hand, unstacked insurance means you may not have much of your expenses covered by insurance if you’re in an accident with a driver lacking liability coverage. Your limit will just be what has been specified in the policy for your vehicle. This can be frustrating to deal with following an accident. That extra cost may actually be beneficial one day, but nothing about insurance and driving is really certain.
Where to Get Stacked Insurance
When it comes to getting stacked insurance, there are three things you should check off: having uninsured motorist bodily coverage, stacking is legal in your state, and your insurance provider offers it. More on these requirements are explored in the sections below.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Coverage
Before you begin inquiring about stacking insurance, you need to make sure you have uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. Some states require their drivers to have such coverage in order to make sure there is that extra layer of protection. Despite auto insurance being mandated in nearly every state, many drivers decide to get behind the wheel without any coverage. This insurance may be wise to obtain even if you are trying not to stack. Uninsured motorist coverage is the only type of insurance that can be stacked, so you will need it listed on all policies you obtain if you are opting for horizontal stacking.
States Allowing Stack Insurance
Stacking insurance is not allowed in every state. Laws regarding stacking vary, so it would be wise to check with your state insurance regulations on the matter before pursuing stacked insurance. Some states, like Wisconsin, will only allow you to stack up to three vehicles. This limits how much coverage for medical expenses you would be able to obtain. Other states, like New York and Delaware, only allow stacking across multiple policies. But, on the flip side, there are some states that default insurance policies to stacking. Auto insurance purchased in Florida and Pennsylvania may automatically be stacked. If this is the case where you live, you would have to waive the option to stack in order to get an unstacked policy with lower premiums. Things may get more tricky if you reside in a no-fault state. No-fault states may require you to go through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage (as states like this usually mandate such coverage for all drivers) before you are allowed to touch uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Like liability insurance laws, rules about stacked insurance vary from state to state. Check with your state’s department of insurance to make sure stacking is legal.
Insurers That Offer Stacked Coverage
Not every insurer allows you to stack insurance. In states where stacking insurance is allowed, insurance companies have the chance to opt out of offering it as long as they inform their customers of their stacking policy. If by chance, your insurance company does allow stacking uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, they can cap limits. This means that if your provider has a coverage limit cap of $100,000, you will only be covered for up to $100,000 in medical expenses no matter what. For states that do not allow stacking, insurance providers may offer higher coverage limits in order to let drivers get more protection following an accident. Make sure you check with your insurance agent when purchasing a policy to see what their rules and regulations regarding stacked insurance are. You do not want to go in assuming one thing and have it turn out not to be true when you desperately need the payout.
If you’re not insured with Insurance Navy, there’s a good chance you are paying way too much for auto insurance. Contact us today for an auto insurance quote and see how much you could be saving by switching. Quotes are available at no charge to you online, or call us at 888-949-6289. We also offer in-person assistance at one of our convenient locations.