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Stacked Insurance: Maximize an Uninsured Motorist Claim

Amy Danise

Stacking insurance is an option in some states that lets you make claims for injuries from one accident using two uninsured motorist insurance (UM) policies, or claims from two vehicles under one policy. If an uninsured (or underinsured) driver hits you and you have medical bills not covered by their insurance, stacking gives you the potential to get more money for injuries than you'd be able to get with just one UM policy.

To get stacked auto insurance, you must:

  • Live in a state that allows stacking (see chart below).
  • Have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage on either 1) two vehicles under one policy or 2) two vehicles under two separate policies. Where you live will determine if and how you can stack policies.

Some states that allow stacking also let insurers choose not to offer stacking. If your policy has an "anti-stacking provision," you won't be able make multiple UM claims for one accident.

If you can stack UM coverage, here's how it could work:

Example 1: Stacking insurance within one policy

  • Say you have coverage for two cars under one policy, both with $50,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. If a driver without enough insurance hits one of the cars, you can claim up to $100,000 in medical benefits.

Example 2: Stacking insurance from two policies

  • Say you have coverage for two cars under two separate auto insurance policies, both with $50,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. If a driver without enough insurance hits one of the vehicles, you can claim up to $100,000 in medical benefits. Both policies must be in your name.

Things to consider before stacking

  • You may have to pay more for the option to stack. If this is the case, you need to elect stacking when you buy the policy. You can't retroactively select it after an accident.
  • Health insurance plans typically also cover injuries from auto accidents. You may not even need UM insurance. (Although some states require UM.) But if your health plan has high out-of-pocket charges, buying UM is a way to cover car accident injuries without dealing with health insurance deductibles, coinsurance and copays.
  • UM/UIM coverage is for accidents caused by others. If you cause an accident and are injured, UM coverage won't help you. (But personal injury protection or medical payments coverage would.)

How to make a claim with stacked UM insurance

If a driver with no liability insurance hits you and causes injuries: You'd make a claim on your own UM coverage for medical bills. If that's not enough, you'd tap the UM coverage from another vehicle you own or from another auto insurance policy you have.

If a driver with some liability insurance hits you and causes injuries: You'd first make a claim against the other driver's liability policy for your injuries (and property damage). If their liability insurance isn't enough to cover your injuries, you'd turn to your own UM/UIM coverage. If the coverage for one vehicle (or under one policy) still isn't enough, you'd tap other UM coverage you have for another vehicle or from another policy.

State laws on stacked insurance

StateStacking with multiple policies?Stacking within one policy?
AlabamaYes. If there are separate policies, there is no stacking limitation.Yes, up to three vehicles.
ArkansasYes, unless policy unambiguously disallows.Yes, unless policy unambiguously disallows.
ColoradoYesYes; however, anti-stacking provisions are allowed. A single policy or endorsement for UM or UIM coverage issued for a single premium covering multiple vehicles may be limited to applying once per accident.
DelawareYesNo; however, when two or more vehicles are insured under one policy, the limits of liability apply separately to each vehicle, but the recovery must not exceed the highest limit of liability under any one vehicle.
District of ColumbiaNo, so long as policy language is clear.No, so long as policy language is clear.
FloridaYes, unless waived in writing on state-approved form.Yes, unless waived in writing on state-approved form.
HawaiiNoYes; insurer must offer insured option to purchase stacking; stacking of fleet vehicles not allowed.
IdahoNo, if policy language clearly and unambiguously prohibits stacking.No, if policy language clearly and unambiguously prohibits stacking.
IllinoisNo. Anti-stacking clause is enforceable if unambiguous and not in violation of public policy.No, when anti-stacking provision is clear and unambiguous.
IndianaNo, unless policy language is ambiguous.Yes, if separate and specific premium is charged for UM coverage and policy is ambiguous. If policy language is clear and unambiguous, the stacking of coverages under a single policy is not permitted.
IowaNo; however, if more than one policy or coverage applies to an accident, insured may choose to apply coverage with highest limits.No, if policy language is clear.
KentuckyYes, if a separate premium is charged for each vehicle.Yes, if a single premium is paid.
MaineNo, unless anti-stacking language is ambiguous.No, unless anti-stacking language is ambiguous.
MarylandNoNo, if policy language is clear and unambiguous.
New HampshireYes, whenever policy terms are ambiguous.Yes, unless policy prohibits stacking through clear and unambiguous policy language.
New JerseyYesNo
New MexicoYes, but injured people not in the policyholder's household may not stack.Yes; however, a policy containing anti-stacking language must be "truly unambiguous" and specify single premium for single coverage.
New YorkYesNo
North CarolinaYesNo
North DakotaNoNo
OhioYes; unless clearly excluded by policy.Yes; unless clearly excluded by policy.
OklahomaYes, unless policy contained clause excluding multiple recoveries and only one premium for UM coverage was paid.No, if policy language is clear.
OregonYes; anti-stacking clauses are unenforceable.No
PennsylvaniaYesYes, but only members of the policyholder's household can stack.
Rhode IslandYes, if insured pays separate premiums.Yes, if insured pays separate premiums.
South CarolinaYes, limited stacking is permitted.Yes, unless policy includes anti-stacking clause.
South DakotaNoNo
UtahYes for UM; no for UIMNo
VermontYes, where insured has paid separate premiums.Yes; unless policy clearly and unambiguously precludes stacking.
VirginiaYes; unless policy contains clear and unambiguous language prohibiting stacking.No; if anti-stacking language is clear.
WashingtonNo, if anti-stacking language is clear.No
West VirginiaYesYes, but anti-stacking provisions allowed.
WisconsinYes, but anti-stacking language is permitted.Yes, but anti-stacking language is permitted.
WyomingYesNo; so long as anti-stacking language is clear.
Source: American Property Casualty Insurance Association