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stacked vs. unstacked insurance

If you've heard the term "stacked insurance" thrown around in the car insurance world, you may have wondered what it is. Well, that's what we're here for — to explain the differences between stacked and unstacked coverage and shed some light on the pros and cons of each.

What is stacked car insurance?

Stacked insurance essentially increases your uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage limits in relation to how many cars you insure.

UM and UIM coverages vary by state, but in general these coverages can help pay for post-accident medical and property expenses after you're hit by a driver who lacks sufficient (or any) liability coverage.

Stacking is available in a handful of states, where you may have 2 options: stacking across policies or stacking within one policy.

Stacking within one policy

If you insure more than one car on the same policy, you might be able to stack UM bodily injury (UMBI) coverage. Let's say you have 3 cars, each with $25,000 UMBI limits, and you decide to stack these coverages. If you're hit by a driver who doesn't have adequate insurance, you'll be able to combine the coverage limits for each vehicle under that policy, giving you a coverage limit of $75,000 instead of your original $25,000.

Stacking across policies

Let's say you have 2 separate car insurance policies: one for your truck and one for your car. You buy $50,000 of UMBI coverage for each. Then it happens: an uninsured driver slams into your truck. Your truck is totaled and you're hurt in the crash. If you stacked your UMBI coverage, you'll be able to file a claim under both policies if needed. So if the costs of your injury bills exceed one policy's $50,000 limit, you have an extra $50,000 to work with from the car's policy, as long as each policy is in your name. (Complicated, we know.)

Advantages of stacked coverage

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You have higher coverage limits after an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Without stacking, your UM/UIM limits are capped at your liability limits in some states. By stacking, you get more coverage in case of an accident caused by another driver. And you won't need to raise your liability limits at the same time.

Disadvantages of stacked coverage

You'll likely pay more for uninsured/underinsured coverage in exchange for the added protection.

What is unstacked insurance?

Simply put, unstacked insurance coverage treats each vehicle's coverage separately, no matter how many cars you insure. If you're struck by an underinsured/uninsured driver, your policy can cover expenses up to the UMBI limit you chose for the vehicle you were driving.

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Advantages

You'll probably pay a lower car insurance premium in exchange for lower single-incident limits.

Disadvantages

Your uninsured/underinsured limits could be too low to cover your post-accident expenses.

Esurance and stacking

Stacking coverage isn't allowed in most states. And if it is, there might be stipulations on how you can use it. As an Esurance customer, you may be able to stack your UMBI coverages in these states:

  • Alabama — across policies and within one policy
  • Colorado — across policies only
  • Florida — across policies and within one policy
  • Georgia — across policies only
  • Kentucky — across policies only
  • Mississippi — across policies and within one policy
  • Missouri — across policies and within one policy
  • Nevada — across policies and within one policy
  • New Jersey — across policies only
  • North Carolina — across policies only
  • Oklahoma — across policies only
  • Oregon — across policies only
  • Pennsylvania — across policies and within one policy
  • Rhode Island — across policies and within one policy
  • South Carolina — across policies only
  • Texas — across policies only
  • West Virginia — across policies only

Is stacked UM/UIM insurance right for you?

That's the not-quite million-dollar question. It really depends on your coverage needs and financial situation, plus the number of uninsured drivers in your state.

If you want help talking it through, give us a call anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). We're here to help.

Related links

UM/UIM coverage
Head here to find out more about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Car insurance in your state
Curious about how car insurance works in your home state? We've got the skinny.

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