What is “Stacking” of Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
As I’ve recently been explaining in previous blog posts, individuals who have been injured in an accident may be able to maximize the amount of insurance coverage that is available to pay for their claim. Such an individual who is injured will want to have as much insurance coverage that is needed to provide compensation. One common way to maximize the amount of available insurance coverage is by “stacking” the amount of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that may be available for a claim.
It is important to remember that there are a couple of different ways that an injured person could have available UM or UIM coverage in Virginia.[i] The easiest way is if they have a policy with UIM or UM coverage in it. The second way is if they are an insured driver under a policy. The third way is if they were a permissive driver or guest in the car that is covered by a UIM policy. The fourth way is if the injured party lives with a resident relative who has a UIM policy.
Each of those four situations presents a scenario in which UM or UIM coverage might be available. But it may be the case that there is more than one situation that applies at once. For example, perhaps you have your own policy that has UIM coverage. And, let’s assume that you live with a relative who has a different automobile insurance policy that also has UM or UIM coverage.
In that situation, you should be able to combine, or “stack” the UM or UIM coverage that is available under your own policy with the UM or UIM coverage that is available under your relative’s policy.
The best way to understand this is with an example. Say that you have a personal injury claim that is worth $100,000. But let’s say the defendant driver has a liability policy to cover your injuries that is worth just $25,000. That leaves you $75,000 short of what you are entitled to receive.
But let’s say that you have UM/UIM coverage under your policy in the amount of $50,000. Let’s also assume that you live with your parents, and they have a separate policy with UM/UIM benefits in the amount of $50,000.
In that situation, you can “stack” your UIM benefits with your parents’ UIM coverage to come up with a total of $100,000 in UIM coverage. You can then subtract the amount paid by the defendant driver’s insurance company — $25,000 – and you’d be entitled to recover $75,000 from your insurance company and your parents’ insurance company.
This process of combining coverages with another policy is known as “interpolicy stacking.” It occurs when more than one insurance policy is combined to maximize coverage.
Your own insurance policy may also allow “intrapolicy stacking.” Let’s say that you have two vehicles under your own policy, with $50,000 in UM/UIM benefits. Unless your auto policy prohibits it, you can stack the coverage of those two cars to get $50,000 each, or a total of $100,000 total in UIM benefits from your policy alone.
These examples show that stacking UM/UIM benefits can be complicated and difficult. It is technical. For that reason, if you suffer a serious injury from an accident, it is critical that you call an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine the amount you are entitled to receive.
Charlottesville personal injury lawyer Robert E. Byrne, Jr. has extensive experience maximizing available insurance coverage for his clients after they have suffered serious injuries. For a free, no-obligation consultation with Bob, please call him at (434) 817-3100 or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] This article is limited to discussing Virginia law only, and it is for informational purposes only. Nothing herein is intended to be legal advice.