What Does It Mean for Uninsured Motorist Coverage to be 'Stacked'?
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are injured in a car accident and the at-fault driver and owner of the vehicle driven by the at-fault driver have no bodily injury insurance coverage. On the other hand, underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the event the at-fault parties have too little bodily injury coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages are commonly referred to as “UM” coverage.
For example, if you have a personal injury claim with a value of $100,000.00, and the at-fault parties have only $10,000.00 in bodily insurance coverage, your UM coverage will pay for the value of your claim above that $10,000.00. However, many people do not have UM coverage as it is optional in Florida. Furthermore, your UM coverage will be subject to the limit of coverage that you purchased. In the above example, if you only purchased $10,000.00 of UM coverage, you would receive that amount in addition to the at fault parties’ $10,000.00, meaning that the remaining $80,000.00 of your claim will not be covered by insurance.
As such, the more UM coverage you have, the better. Under Florida law, if you elect to purchase UM, your insurer must offer you "stacking" UM coverage. Stacking UM coverage allows you to combine the limits of the UM coverage on each of your vehicles. For example, If you have two cars and stacking UM coverage on both, then your UM limit will be doubled.
There are differences between stacked and non-stacked coverage beyond the total amount of applicable UM coverage. Stacked coverage can be purchased on a single vehicle. While it there are not two policies to “stack,” there are still benefits to having stacked coverage on a single vehicle. Stacked coverage applies in situations where non-stacked coverage will not. For example, if you are occupying a second car that you own for which you did not purchase UM, the stacked UM coverage from your other car will apply.
We see a lot of unfortunate situations in which a client suffered serious personal injuries due to a driver that had little or no coverage. In fact, some of the most irresponsible drivers cannot afford the increased premiums that result from their prior accidents and tickets. In these situations, it is critical that the client have UM coverage, or else he or she might not receive any compensation whatsoever for personal injuries, lost wages and medical expenses. In one particularly tragic example, we had a client who spent months in the hospital following a collision in which the at-fault driver only had $10,000.00 in bodily injury coverage. Her medical bills exceeded $1,000,000.00. Unfortunately, she did not have UM coverage.
Our recommendation: buy as much UM as you can reasonably afford and choose the stacking option. If you have any questions about UM claims in the Northeast Florida area, please contact our attorneys for a free consultation. We handle UM claims in the following counties: Duval; Clay; St. Johns; Nassau; Baker; Union; Putnam; Flagler; Volusia; Alachua; Columbia; and Bradford.