Whether to purchase stacked or non-stacked uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage is an important decision for Florida auto insurance consumers. Stacking and non-stacking have dramatically different impacts on how much coverage you’ll have if injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This guide provides a thorough overview of stacking vs. non-stacking car insurance in Florida.
What is Stacking Insurance?
Stacking insurance refers to combining the coverage limits of multiple vehicles or policies to increase your total available payout. With stacking, you can “stack” UM coverage limits on top of each other to effectively multiply the coverage.
For example, say you have two cars insured for $100,000 of UM coverage each. If stacking applies, you could combine those limits for $200,000 of total coverage.
Stacking allows you to unlock the full benefits of having UM protection on multiple cars or policies.
What is Non-Stacking Insurance?
With non-stacked UM coverage, your payout is limited to the stated policy amount, regardless of other vehicles or policies you may have.
For example, if you have $100,000 of UM on two different cars, non-stacking would still limit you to $100,000 total if injured. You cannot “stack” the limits together to reach $200,000.
Non-stacking restricts UM payouts to the face value of a single policy.
Is Stacking Automatic in Florida?
Yes, Florida auto insurance policies automatically include stacking for UM coverage by default. When you buy UM protection, it will stack for each vehicle and policy unless you sign a waiver selecting non-stacked coverage.
The minimum default stacking by law in Florida is:
- $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $10,000 for property damage
Policies often exceed these minimums, in which case higher stacked limits apply. But you can opt for non-stacking with a written waiver.
The Pros and Cons of Stacking vs. Non-Stacking
Below is an overview of the key pros and cons of each approach to help you decide what’s best for your situation:
Pros of Stacking
- Higher coverage limits if you have multiple vehicles
- One injury can access multiple coverage pools
- Covers all resident relatives and household members
- Cheaper to add UM coverage to additional vehicles
- Protects you in any vehicle (auto, motorcycle, etc)
Cons of Stacking
- More expensive base premiums
- Buying and insuring more vehicles increases premiums
Pros of Non-Stacking
- Lower base insurance rates
- Premiums don’t increase with added vehicles
Cons of Non-Stacking
- Lower coverage limits
- Restricts payouts to one policy’s face value
- Provides less protection for your money
Stacking UM Insurance Across Vehicles and Policies
There are a couple scenarios where stacking applies that multiply your coverage:
Stacking within a single policy: If you insure multiple cars on one policy, you can stack the UM limits of each car together. For example, two cars with $100,000 UM each would stack for $200,000 total per injury.
Stacking across policies: If you also insure vehicles across multiple policies, you can stack between policies. For example, stacking two $100,000 policies would result in $200,000 of coverage.
Stacking combines coverage both within and across policies for multiplied protection.
Why is Stacking Insurance Important?
Stacking is critical in Florida for a few key reasons:
Florida has a high rate of uninsured drivers – Almost 1 in 4 Florida motorists lack proper liability insurance, so chances are greater an at-fault driver won’t have enough coverage.
UM protects you when at-fault insurance falls short – Stacked UM safeguards you when the at-fault driver’s liability insurance can’t cover your injury expenses.
Medical costs can exceed policy limits – Even severe injuries can cost hundreds of thousands in medical bills and lost wages. Stacked coverage provides greater ability to fully compensate crash damages.
For these reasons, stacking is very beneficial in Florida specifically.
Who is Covered Under Stacked Insurance?
The main people protected under stacked UM insurance include:
- The named insured on the policy
- Resident relatives and family members
- Minors in the insured’s care
- Anyone occupying an insured vehicle
So stacking does not just protect the policyholder, but also kids, relatives, and passengers.
The Non-Stacking Waiver in Florida
To select non-stacked coverage, Florida law requires drivers sign a written waiver rejecting stacking. By signing this form, you agree to restrict payouts in exchange for lower premiums.
Key facts about the non-stacking waiver:
- Must be signed by the named insured
- Applies to all vehicles and renewals
- Selection is revocable in writing
- Must mention exact policy limits
This waiver overrides the default stacking to limit your coverage.
Should You Choose Stacking or Non-Stacking?
Whether stacking makes sense depends on your situation:
Stacking pros: Provides higher coverage limits and greater protection for multi-policy/vehicle households. Ideal for high-risk drivers or accident-prone areas.
Stacking cons: More expensive upfront if buying minimal coverage. Multiplies rate increases when adding vehicles.
Non-stacking pros: Lower base auto insurance rates. Costs don’t increase with extra vehicles. Can save money if buying only mandatory minimum UM coverage.
Non-stacking cons: Restricts payouts to one policy’s limits. Less protection for the premium dollar spent. Insufficient if injuries exceed one policy maximum.
Analyze your specific insurance needs, risk factors, budget, and assets to decide if stacking is right for you.
Can I Change Between Stacking and Non-Stacking?
Yes, drivers can change their UM stacking choice when a policy renews or get a midterm amendment by contacting their insurer. Switching requires submitting a new waiver form – either revoking the existing non-stacking waiver or signing a new one.
However, once you have an accident claim, you typically cannot adjust stacking for that particular loss. The option in effect at the time of the crash remains applicable.
How an Attorney Can Help
Stacking and non-stacking legal rules are complex. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable help:
- Analyzing your policies to optimize coverage
- Challenging improper non-stacking waiver forms
- Maximizing claim settlements using stacked benefits
- Fighting denial or underpayment of rightful stacking benefits
Their expertise can ensure you capitalize on stacked coverage you pay for when it matters most – after an accident.
Stacking Insurance: The Bottom Line
While non-stacking lowers base premiums, stacking provides critical protection when you need it most – after a serious accident. Stacking effectively turns multiple UM policies into layers of coverage that can better compensate severe injuries and losses. For sufficient assets protection, stacking is often the smart choice in Florida.
What is the difference between stacked and non-stacked uninsured motorist coverage?
What is the difference between stacked and unstacked insurance in Florida?
What is better stacked or unstacked?
What is stacking in Florida?
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