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Auto Insurance

Stacked vs. Unstacked Car Insurance

There are many things to consider when choosing stacked or unstacked car insurance. Multiplying your limits is great, but it will cost more premium. There are pros and cons to each option.

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Stacking insurance will increase your coverage if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. A stacked insurance policy combines coverage limits from multiple policies with the same driver or one that may have multiple vehicles.

Being in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can be costly, with medical costs being unavoidable and expensive. It is important to note that only bodily injury is stacked, not property damage. Any damage to your vehicle would still be covered under collision insurance.

Stacked and Unstacked Car Insurance At a Glance 

When coverage is stacked on an auto insurance policy, coverages are added across multiple policies or vehicles. 

Horizontal StackedVertical StackedUnstacked
How many vehicles?MultipleMultipleOne
How many policies?MultipleOneOne

What is Stacking Uninsured Motorist Coverage? 

If you have multiple insurance policies, you may be able to stack the uninsured motorist coverage limits. It could occur if you have your own insurance policy and your name is also on another policy like a family member or spouse. You may have heard this referred to as vertical stacking. 

An example is if you have your own policy with an uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage limit of $15,000. You are also on your spouse’s policy, which has a $50,000 limit. If the policies are stacked, you essentially have a $65,000 limit.

When you have multiple vehicles insured on the same policy, you can choose to stack uninsured or underinsured coverage for an additional premium. Each vehicle will have its own limit, so in the event of an uninsured or underinsured bodily injury claim, you can add them together for a higher limit. You can hear this referred to as horizontal stacking.

For example, let’s say you have three vehicles on your policy with a $50,000 limit on each vehicle. If you have elected to pay for stacking, you can combine them and have $150,000 in coverage.

Pros of Stacking Insurance 

  • Get more coverage for a relatively inexpensive premium. Though it does cost more to stack, if you need to use it, the cost is worth it. 
  • You’re better covered if you live in a state with many uninsured or underinsured drivers. Paying the extra premium for stacked coverage would be a good idea because your risk is a bit higher. 
  • With medical expenses at an all-time high, having extra coverage can’t hurt. Without stacked coverage, your limit could be too low to pay for all of your medical bills if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Stacked coverage can help you feel more assured that you’re covered in case you’re injured.
  • If you own multiple cars, it could be less expensive to stack your coverage using lower limits rather than paying for higher limits on each vehicle. Stacked coverage is a way to get more out of your policy. 

Cons of Stacking Insurance

  • Premium costs may be higher.
  • If you only have one vehicle, stacked coverage would not help unless you are a driver on another insurance policy. 
  • You could be paying for extra coverage you will not use it. 
  • You could live in a state where everyone is insured with enough coverage to meet the needs of an accident they cause. While you can never truly know if that is the case, you may not want to pay extra if your risk is low.

What States Allow Insurance Stacking?

Not all states allow stacking, and even if they do, not all companies are required to offer it. Check how your state does it and your insurer because laws and rules will vary. 

Horizontal StackingVertical StackingNot Allowed
New  Hampshirexx
New Jerseyx
New Mexicoxx
New Yorkx
North  Carolinax
North Dakotax
Rhode Islandxx
South  Carolinaxx
South Dakotax
West  Virginiaxx

What is Unstacked Car Insurance Coverage? 

Unstacked care insurance means you will not pay extra premiums to get extra coverage for multiple vehicles or policies. Since stacking coverage means adding multiple limit options, you can expect to pay more premium. The more coverage, the more premium you will pay.

The limits you select for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Liability insurance will be the maximum amount you will get in case of a claim. The advantage is knowing exactly what you are getting and paying for.

Pros of Unstacked Insurance 

  • You will likely pay less premium for unstacked insurance. 
  • You know exactly what limit you have for each vehicle for each coverage part. 
  • Since stacked only works on uninsured and underinsured bodily injury, not physical damage, so unstacked means you will not pay for coverage you won’t use. If you have health insurance, you may not even need to tap into the bodily injury limits. 
  • You can have a higher limit on a vehicle you drive more versus a lower limit on a vehicle you drive less. 

Cons of Unstacked Insurance 

  • You may not have enough limit to cover a claim if you need more than what you have on one vehicle or policy. Paying out of pocket for those medical expenses can be devastating. 
  • The limits for each vehicle can be different, which can be very confusing at claim time. 
  • The risk of being injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver could be high, depending on your state. Having unstacked insurance in a high-risk state for uninsured drivers is quite risky, especially if you have low limits, to begin with. 

Things to Consider When Deciding Between Stacked vs. Unstacked Car Insurance 

When deciding if you should stack your uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury liability limits, there are a few things to consider. First, consider your budget. Then think about if you have multiple vehicles on your policy or if you are listed as a driver on multiple policies. Also, determine the level of uninsured and underinsured drivers you may encounter depending on where you live. 

You Should Consider Stacking Insurance: 

  • You have multiple vehicles on your policy and live in a state that offers stacking coverage. Remember, not all insurers have to offer it, so check your policy. 
  • You are listed as a driver on multiple policies and would like peace of mind knowing you will have enough coverage for your bodily injury liability if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. 
  • You live or drive in an area that tends to have a lot of uninsured or underinsured drivers. 
  • You can afford to spend some extra dollars to have stacking coverage. 

You Should Not Consider Stacking Insurance: 

  • If you only have one vehicle and one auto insurance policy.
  • You can’t afford to pay the extra premium associated with stacking coverage. 
  • You don’t often drive or are in a state that doesn’t have a lot of uninsured or underinsured drivers. 
  • You live in a state that does not allow stacking, or your insurer does not offer it.