To stack or not to stack, that is the question.
If you’re in the process of getting car insurance, you may be faced with choosing between stacked or unstacked auto insurance.
Stacked insurance is as simple as combining, or “stacking” your uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage limits on multiple vehicles to increase the amount you’d be covered for in case of an accident. Unstacked insurance is basically the default; that’s what you have if you only have one vehicle, or if you don’t combine coverage limits for your multiple vehicles.
If that all sounds confusing, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s get into what that actually means, and whether stacking insurance is an option for you.
Stacking insurance is a way of increasing your uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage coverage by combining the limits in each policy on each car you insure.
Uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage, sometimes shortened to UM/UIM, is a type of coverage that protects you if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance, or whose insurance limits aren’t high enough to pay for the damage they caused you. Some states require you to have a certain amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and some don’t, but including UM/UIM in your policy generally only adds a small amount to your monthly premiums.
Now here’s where the stacking part comes in. If you have multiple insured vehicles, depending on where you live and whether your provider allows it, you might be able to “stack” your insurance, either within the same policy or across multiple policies, to combine your coverage limits in case of an accident. If stacking is an option for you, it’s probably a good idea to do it so you can get the most coverage possible.
Stacking within one car insurance policy works like this: Say you have two cars on the same policy. And on that policy, you have uninsured motorist coverage with a coverage limit of $30,000. You might be able to stack those two coverage limits for a combined coverage total of up to $60,000 in case of an accident with an uninsured driver.
And having up to twice the coverage you would have otherwise will come in handy in case an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver costs you more than your unstacked coverage limit.
If you have more than one vehicle and you have separate insurance policies for each, you might still be able to stack your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage across policies within the same carrier.
Say you have $40,000 in uninsured motorist coverage on one car and another $40,000 under a different policy on the other. You might be able to stack that coverage to raise your limit to $80,000, even though you have two separate policies.
Unstacked coverage basically just means that you’re not combining coverage limits, so your UM/UIM coverage limit is whatever’s listed on your policy. If your limit is $30,000, that’s the max you’ll receive after an accident. If you only have one vehicle, your UM/UIM coverage is automatically unstacked, since you have nothing else to stack it with!
Stacked car insurance isn’t an option in every state. Only certain states allow you to stack UM/UIM coverage. And even if stacked insurance is possible based on your location, it may not be allowed by your provider. An expert at Policygenius can help you figure out whether stacked insurance is an option for you.
That said, if you have multiple vehicles and both your state and provider allow it, there aren’t many downsides to stacked insurance. Your premiums will be slightly higher than if you left your insurance unstacked, but the extra coverage you’ll get out of it could be well worth it.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.