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Florida Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Stacked vs. Unstacked

03/13/2023
Blog
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Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is a component of an auto insurance policy that provides coverage for you, the policyholder, when you are involved in an accident with someone who does not have insurance. Every state provides UM coverage, generally based on statutes. Coverage also generally applies to the resident spouse and resident family members occupying any vehicle or struck as a pedestrian by an uninsured motor vehicle and can even cover passengers in your car. Check your specific policy since they differ state by state and each case’s fact set is unique.

Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is a valuable addition to your auto insurance policy because it protects you, the policyholder, if you are involved in an accident with someone who does not have sufficient insurance of their own. Not every state provides UIM since in some states an underinsured motorist is considered an uninsured motorist and the UM part of the policy provides this coverage.

UM and UIM coverage is something that you are given the option of acquiring at the time when you sign up for your auto policy. These coverage components can also be added after you sign up for your policy, meaning you can gain such coverage at any time.

Stacked auto insurance is a way to maximize your Underinsured Motorist benefits when you are involved in an accident caused by someone who is uninsured or underinsured. Stacking insurance allows the UM/UIM coverage limits from multiple policies to be combined and create more coverage that can offset expense incurred for post-injury care, wage losses and non-economic damages when you resolve your claim. Stacked UM insurance is available to drivers in about thirty states, including Florida, who insure more than one vehicle or have more than one insurance policy on a single car. Check your state statutes to see how stacking works. For example, if your auto policy has $100,000 of UM coverage and you insure two vehicles, the stacked UM provides $200,000 of coverage. Even if you insure only one vehicle, stacked UM coverage in Florida can at times provide UM coverage when unstacked UM would not, especially if you or other family members have other auto insurance policies in the household. I always purchase stacked UM coverage; the cost per day is generally under a dollar per day and can be an inexpensive as $20 per year. The choice of stacking your insurance can, again, be made at the time at which you sign up for your policy, or it may be added at a later date.

With unstacked UM coverage you are unable to add (stack) the UM limits from multiple policies or from multiple vehicles on the same policy. In general, the limit of unstacked UM listed on your policy is the maximum limit you are able to collect. Unstacked UM coverage is generally slightly less expensive than stacked UM coverage. Some carriers do not offer non-stacked as the price is negligible.

Both Stacked and unstacked UM may help you with your claim if you have been involved in an accident. If you have questions about stacked insurance or have been involved in an auto accident, call a Florida car accident attorney at Searcy Denney for help.

Do You Need UM Insurance in Florida?

Unfortunately, there are far too many uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists on the road, despite the legal requirement for insurance coverage in many states. A recent article by the Insurance Research Council showed that in 2019 the estimate was that 12.6% of vehicles in the US were uninsured, that is one in eight. The estimate for Florida was 20.9% uninsured. The economic loss caused each year by individuals who drive without insurance is substantial. Although all states do not require insurance coverage, every state requires that you meet financial responsibility requirements, either through insurance, a bond, or other approved means that show you can pay if you damage another person or their property in an automobile accident.

Regardless, if you are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, it can be challenging to obtain full compensation for your bodily injury. Individuals who are driving without insurance will often have few, if any assets, which can be collected upon in the event that you receive a judgment. Even if you are hit by a driver who has liability insurance coverage, you could still face issues if they only carry the state’s minimum liability limits coverage; Florida only requires an individual to carry a $10,000 liability policy in order for them to be considered “insured.” When you consider how much medical care costs in today’s age, it becomes easy to see how such limits can be exhausted quickly if you are seriously injured. An exhaustion of coverage, due to medical expenses, can mean that there would be no coverage left for the repayment of lost wages, other economic losses, and for pain and suffering.

This is where UM insurance comes into play. UM insurance coverage kicks in where the at-fault driver’s liability insurance leaves off. It can help to cover medical bills left over from the other party’s exhausted liability coverage. It can also help to cover damages for lost wages, pain, and suffering, etc. At best, UM may help an injured individual to be made whole. At worst, it can mitigate the extent of their losses.

The foregoing is best explained through examples. Suppose Joe earns $60,000 per year, or $5,000 per month, at his job as a construction worker. While driving to work, Joe is hit by another driver who is only carrying a minimum of $10,000 in liability coverage. Joe suffers a broken arm and a concussion. He requires several follow-ups to the doctor for his arm as well as trips to a neurologist. Joe’s medical bills total $25,000, and he misses two months of work, meaning he loses $10,000 in wages. Joe’s damages, therefore, total $35,000 before pain and suffering is included. Even if the defendant’s insurance tenders the policy limit of $10,000, Joe will still not receive the full sum of his damages or be made whole. If Joe has UM then he can make a claim against his own insurance for the difference. If Joe does not have UM then he is unlikely to receive compensation beyond the initial $10,000.

The only real disadvantage of stacked insurance is that you will typically pay slightly higher premiums for higher coverage limits. This means when you stack UM and UIM limits, you will likely pay more for that coverage. Again, the cost is generally very inexpensive, often times far less than you will pay for your morning cup of coffee or tea at your favorite coffee shop. Many individuals operate under the notion that they do not need to pay the additional premiums because they “have never been in an accident.” It is important to remember, however, that it only takes one accident for an individual to suffer serious, if not catastrophic, injuries. Such possibilities are the reason people acquire insurance. The biggest confusion and regret we see is from injured victims who failed to procure Stacked Uninsured Motorist coverage and even more so for those that reject all Uninsured Motorist coverage stacked or not!

Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney for More Information

Stacked insurance may be an advantageous option for you. Nonetheless, no matter what type of insurance you have, contact a Florida car accident attorney at Searcy Denney for a free consultation if you have been involved in a car accident. Once retained, we will contact the defendant’s insurance carrier, as well as your UM carrier, so that they may deal with us directly. If you are unsure as to how your own insurance applies to the situation then we will take the time to make sure that you know what to expect as the case moves forward. This allows you to focus on the important business of treating your injuries and regaining your health. 

We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay if you don’t recover. Contact us online today for help.

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