Stacked and Unstacked Auto Insurance Explained

What are stacked and unstacked auto insurance policies? Stacking car insurance increases your uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage limits relative to how many cars you insure. When you have unstacked car insurance, each vehicle’s coverage limits are treated separately, regardless of how many cars you insure.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Nov 12, 2020

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Some drivers will stack car insurance to increase their coverage limits. Today, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about stacked and unstacked auto insurance, including which policy is the right option for you.

What is Stacked Car Insurance?

Some car insurance companies give drivers the opportunity to “stack” car insurance coverage. Stacking car insurance increases your uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage limits relative to how many cars you insure.

Basically, when you stack car insurance, you can file a claim under both policies to enjoy higher coverage limits. Stacking is typically only available for the uninsured/underinsured motorist (UI/UM) part of your car insurance policy.

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How Does Stacked Car Insurance Work?

Let’s say you have two cars insured on the same policy. You may be able to stack uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage across your two vehicles. If each car has $25,000 in UMBI under your plan, then you can stack these coverage limits together to give you a total policy limit of $50,000 instead of the original $25,000.

If you’re hit by a driver who does not have car insurance, then you’ll be able to combine coverage limits for maximum reimbursement. Instead of claiming up to $25,000 in damages, you’ll be able to claim up to $50,000.

There are two ways to stack car insurance:

  • Stacking within one policy
  • Stacking across policies

The example we mentioned above assumes you’re stacking within one policy: you have $25,000 in coverage on two vehicles on the same policy, and you stack that coverage to maximize your coverage.

You can also stack across policies, however.

Let’s say you have two different car insurance policies, including separate policies for your truck and your car. Your car insurance comes with $50,000 of UMBI coverage for each vehicle. If your insurance policies are unstacked, then you’ll have $50,000 of coverage in an accident where you were hit by an uninsured motorist. With a stacked policy, however, you can increase your coverage limit to $100,000 by stacking across policies.

Pros and Cons of Stacked Auto Insurance Coverage

Pros

  • If you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, then you have significantly higher coverage limits; instead of being able to claim just $25,000 in damages, you may be able to claim 2 to 3 times that amount
  • You can enjoy higher coverage without technically raising your liability limits (your policy still has $25,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, but it’s stacked across vehicles for a total of $50,000 of coverage)

Cons

  • You pay slightly more for stacked coverage; all insurance companies charge a slight premium to stack coverage, and you’ll pay this premium in exchange for the added protection
  • You can only stack car insurance if you insure multiple vehicles; it’s not an option for those with just one insured vehicle

What is Unstacked Insurance?

When you have unstacked car insurance, each vehicle’s coverage limits are treated separately, regardless of how many cars you insure. If you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, then your policy will cover damages or medical expenses up to the coverage limits on that vehicle.

If you have two vehicles with $25,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage each, for example, and your insurance is unstacked, then you’ll receive up to $25,000 in coverage after an accident with an uninsured motorist.

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Pros and Cons of Unstacked Car Insurance

Pros

Cons

  • Your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage limits are lower, and they may be insufficient for covering expenses after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver

Is Stacking Legal?

Stacking is available in some states but not others. Some states have created laws that expressly forbid stacking, while others have made stacking completely legal.

Talk to your car insurance company to determine if stacking is an option for you. Generally, most drivers in the United States can stack uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage limits across multiple vehicles, regardless of whether the vehicles are on the same policy or different policies.

Conclusion

Stacking car insurance is an effective way to expand your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage limits. If you have multiple insured vehicles, then it may be in your best interest to stack car insurance. You pay slightly higher rates today in exchange for receiving significantly higher coverage limits.

Remember: 1 in 7 drivers in the United States is uninsured. If you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, then you may be forced to pay for significant expenses out of pocket: especially if you have insufficient coverage limits or unstacked car insurance.

Shop around for stacked car insurance options today from your car insurance company or other local providers.

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