Last Update: 01/07/ 16
Accidents that hurt people happen all the time; no one expects it. Things get even more serious when the driver to blame for your crash has no car insurance or is under-insured.
Uninsured motorist insurance (”UM coverage”) protects you in this situation. If you are hit by someone without insurance, or with minimum accident coverage, then your own UM coverage will come in and pay for your costs and damages. It will cover things like EMS costs, doctor bills, hospital care, and more.
Without UM coverage in a crash, especially where the party who caused the accident has no insurance, you could be in real financial trouble. For more on Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida, read our earlier post for details.
So, it’s smart to make sure that your car insurance policy includes Uninsured Motorist coverage. However, there’s more to consider though. There’s also stacking of UM coverage to help provide you with additional coverage.
What is “Stacking” UM Coverage?
Stacking is combining coverage. Stacking is adding UM coverage amounts from different sources together to cover your damages.
In Florida, it is possible to have more than one source for UM coverage to help you in the event of an accident with an Uninsured driver. This is legal; see Florida Statute 627.727(9).
Stacking will apply to the “insured” on the policy — which covers the person named on the policy as well as (1) their spouse and relatives who live together in his household and (2) people who are in your “covered vehicle” at the time of the crash.
There’s More Than One Way To Stack.
1. Stacking UM Coverage with Insurance Policies
Lots of families here in Florida have several vehicles in the driveway. They may have different car insurance policies or even different car insurance companies.
For example, your teenager’s used pickup may have insurance with a different company or have a policy with different coverage than your spouse’s SUV.
If the Uninsured Other Guy crashes into your wife as she drives her SUV, stacking can help her. She may be able to combine (or “stack”) the UM coverage in both the SUV and pickup insurance policies. The combined total amount can help with her medical expenses and long term care needs. She may be able to combine the UM coverage on your car, too. (Assuming the policies okay stacking.)
2. Stacking UM Coverage with Different Vehicles
Some families get one big insurance policy to cover all their cars. In the above example, where your wife is in an accident with Uninsured Other Guy, she can combine (”stack”) the UM coverage for all the vehicles on that policy. (Again, assuming that “stacking” is okay in the policy language.)
3. Stacking UM Coverage with One Owner / One Vehicle
What about if you aren’t raising a brood of kids and you’re happy with your single car and your one car insurance policy? Well, stacking may be important to you, too.
Policies with stacking provisions will cover more situations than policies that do not. The non-stacking policies have more exclusions of coverage. Having a stacking UM coverage in your Florida policy may also help in specific situations, too: e.g., “snowbirds” who own vehicles here and in their “summer home.”
Stacking Costs More: Should You Pay for It?
Of course, if an insurance company is going to agree to “stack” UM coverage for you, they are going to want to be paid more for doing so. Car insurance that can be combined, or stacked, between different policies or different vehicles, means higher premiums for you to pay.
Why pay it?
Well, that’s up to you. Each person has a right to decide his own budget. However, consider the risk you and your family members face as they drive on Florida roads these days.
If they are hit by someone who has little if any car insurance, then you are going to have be ready to cover their medical costs immediately out of your own resources. If you don’t have good car insurance, then how will you cover your medical expenses and pay your bills when you can’t work?
Accordingly, our office not only recommends that you make sure your car insurance policies include Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM coverage) but that stacking is available under your policies in the event of an accident.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.