Stacked vs. Unstacked Car Insurance

Explore the differences between stacked and unstacked car insurance and see which is right for you.

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What is stacked car insurance? 

If you're confused by the terms “stacked” or “unstacked” in reference to your car insurance coverage, you're not alone. Here are the simple definitions of these terms:

  • Stacked car insurance increases your uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), depending on the number of vehicles you own. It allows you to combine — or “stack” — the limits for each vehicle, giving you a greater total amount of coverage.
  • Unstacked coverage on your quote applies your standard coverage limits to one specific vehicle, without combining the amounts.

Below we detail the pros and cons of stacked and non-stacked car insurance and explore the geographic limitations of stacked coverage. 

 

Stacked vs. unstacked car insurance — table of contents
  1. How does stacked car insurance work?
  2. Do I need stacked auto insurance?
  3. Stacked insurance eligibility: which states allow stacked insurance?
  4. Stacked insurance considerations

 


 

How does stacked car insurance work? 

Stacked car insurance usually works in one of two ways:

  1. You can insure multiple cars on the same auto insurance policy. The limit of each car’s uninsured motorist coverage can be combined to create a higher composite limit, providing more coverage.
  2. You can insure two or more cars on separate policies, though both policies must be in your name. The limits of each policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can be combined. However, the availability of either option is not guaranteed. 

In either instance, if you own two vehicles with $25,000 in uninsured bodily injury coverage apiece, you could claim up to $50,000 to cover medical expenses. Your coverage limits can be found on the declarations page of your insurance policy. 

A stacked car insurance policy will cost a bit more, but the additional coverage can come in handy. Plus, you can often find a better price by shopping around if the increase seems too steep.

 


 

Do I need stacked auto insurance? 

The unfortunate truth is that there are many uninsured motorists on the road. If you are in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, it can be difficult to get compensation for bodily injury. 

Even if you are hit by a driver who has liability coverage, if they only carry the state’s minimum liability limits then you could still face issues. This is especially true in states like Pennsylvania or California, where the liability limits are quite low. Such limits can be exhausted pretty quickly if you are seriously injured. This is where underinsured coverage comes into play. 

Underinsured motorist coverage picks up where the at-fault driver’s liability insurance leaves off. It can help to cover medical bills left over from the other party’s drained liability coverage. 

 


 

Stacked insurance eligibility: which states allow stacked car insurance?

Eligibility for a stacked car insurance policy depends on a number of factors. Not all insurance companies allow stacking: check with your current insurance provider to see if stacked auto insurance is available. 

Furthermore, the ability to stack car insurance is not available in all states. Of the states who do, some may give insurers the option to opt-out of the practice with an anti-stacking provision.

Another important thing to remember is that this coverage does not offer reimbursement if you cause the collision. For uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to apply, the incident must be the fault of another driver. Specifically, a driver who is uninsured or who does not carry enough insurance coverage to properly cover your losses. Also, no-fault states may require you to go through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage before UM coverage or UIM coverage kicks in. 

Also, to be eligible for a stacked car insurance policy you are required to have more than one insured car on your policy. Consult your current car insurance company to inquire about eligibility.  

 


 

Stacking insurance: considerations and options

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages are great ways to protect yourself in the event of a hit-and-run car accident or a collision with a vehicle driven by an uninsured driver.

Some of the claims that uninsured/underinsured insurance cover may also be covered by your health insurance or — at least in some states — PIP coverage. However, the added peace of mind that these increased limits can bring makes the option appealing to many drivers. 

If your insurance company and state allow it — and you can afford the additional cost — stacking your uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance limits can be a great idea.

 

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Ross Martin
Ross MartinManager, Content Quality

As a licensed insurance agent, Ross researches and writes insurance content intended to help users make informed decisions.

Ross's background is in writing and education. He holds a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Ross's work has been cited by The New York Times, Investopedia, The Simple DollarThe BalanceCar and Driver and Fox Business. He has been quoted by CNET, I Drive Safely and Kin Insurance

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