Would you pay extra to increase your insurance against uninsured drivers?
While the number of uninsured drivers in the United States has steadily decreased over the last several years, research by the Insurance Research Council indicates that 12.6 percent of drivers —more than one in ten—are on the road without insurance.
In light of this surprising statistic, some drivers seek to boost their personal coverage through stacking insurance. Many states restrict or limit stacking, but brushing up on this insurance vocab could lead to greater protection in the case of an accident with an uninsured motorist.
What is Stacking?
EverQuote spoke with Stephen Galante, Vice President of Ralph J Galante Insurance Agency Inc. in Cambridge, MA to find out more about stacking and its precarious standing in some states.
Galante explains that stacked insurance “multiplies your uninsured and underinsured limits by the number of vehicles on your policy.” The result is increased protection from your insurance policy (or policies) if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorists (UM/UIM).
There are two different ways to stack insurance: within your policy or across your policy.
Stacking Within Your Policy
What it means: If you have multiple cars included on one policy and are able to stack your insurance, you can collect the uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage of all cars in the case of an accident.
For example: You have two vehicles with UMBI coverage of $50,000 and you stack your insurance, making it possible for the coverage limits of both cars to be combined. In an accident with an uninsured motorist, your stacked insurance increases your UMBI limit to $100,000.
Stacking Across Your Policy
What it means: If you have multiple cars insured under different policies, stacking across policies could allow you to file claims with both policies in the case of an accident.
For example: You have two cars insured
under different insurance policies, both with $50,000 in UMBI coverage. If you’re in an accident with a driver who has inadequate insurance, and the damages are greater than $50,000, stacking insurance could allow you to file a claim with your other policy as well, so that all damages are paid for.
Should I Consider Stacking My Coverage?
The biggest advantage of stacking, as noted by Galante, is that “your coverage goes much further in paying out accident expenses.” In states where stacking is allowed, residents can opt into this insurance for their insurance.
Another perk? “Stacking will provide you more protection from people that may choose to sue you because of a car insurance accident.” Galante says.
Despite (or rather, because of) its benefits, stacking is limited in much of United States.
In more than half of all US states, stacking is not permitted. “Companies are constantly fighting legislation to allow auto insurance stacking in many states,” Galante explains, “as they claim stacking increases policy payouts.”
If you live in one of a handful of states (there are roughly 20) that allow stacking, regulations still vary. Galante says that state laws as well as insurance laws dictate the rules surrounding stacking, and that these policies may be in flux.
Interestingly, two states with some of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers; California and Texas. don’t allow stacking.
As with most other additions to your insurance policies, stacking your insurance comes with a cost. While the charge for insurance stacking varies by carrier and by individual, you can expect to pay more for the multiplied coverage.
Talk to your agent or your insurance company to see if stacking is an option, and if the price is worth the added protection. Though the statistics on uninsured drivers are looking up, the reality of an accident with an uninsured motorist makes fortified coverage an appealing safeguard.