UM Coverage—To Stack or Not to Stack?
Although you are not required to carry UM insurance, we recommend you purchase as much as you can afford. Florida law does not require an at-fault driver to carry bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage-so without UM insurance, the coverage available to you is limited to your own PIP policy, and/or your health insurance coverage, if any.
Underinsured and uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage protects you when the other driver either doesn’t have enough auto insurance or none at all. When selecting UM coverage, you may be curious about the difference between “stacked coverage” and “un-stacked coverage.”
Section 627.727(9), Florida Statutes, addresses UM coverage and the stacking/non-stacking issue. Stacked UM coverage will always provide the most, and broadest, uninsured motorist coverage. There are two significant differences in the stacked and non-stacked UM forms. One relates directly to how much money you can collect. The other difference is whether the UM coverage is operative or not. The stacked UM form will be operative at times when the non-stacked UM form is not. Even on a policy with a single vehicle being insured, there is a difference in UM coverage.
The stacking provision essentially states that a policy holder can take the UM available on each vehicle which is owned and insured and “stack” it together to be used anywhere. On the other hand, non-stacking means the UM limit you see on the declarations page is the coverage you have, no matter how many cars you own and insure.
The following includes common circumstances when stacked UM coverage will be operative, and non-stacked UM coverage will not be operative to cover you: 1) If you have coverage on your first vehicle and you obtain a second vehicle and fail to report the vehicle to your insurance within the reporting period under your policy, and then are later injured in the second vehicle-stacked UM coverage from the first vehicle will be operative, and non-stacked will not; 2) If you have coverage on your primary vehicle and you own a second, old beater vehicle that is not licensed and that you only use a few times per year to haul garbage to the dump, and you are injured in that vehicle-stacked coverage will be operative and non-stacked will not; 3) If you are a snowbird who insures one vehicle in Florida with UM coverage, and you own another vehicle up north and you are injured in the northern vehicle by an uninsured motorist, a Florida UM policy with stacked coverage will be operative, and a policy with non-stacked coverage will not; 4) If you own a motorcycle and another vehicle, and have no UM coverage on the motorcycle, but UM coverage on the other vehicle-if you are injured by an uninsured motorist while on the motorcycle, the stacked UM on the other vehicle policy will be operative and the non-stacked will not be operative.
Be sure to read and understand your insurance policy limits. If you have any questions about this article, please contact an attorney at SESSUMS LAW GROUP, P.A. any time.
Mark A. Sessums, Esq., is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and handles accident and injury cases throughout Florida with the firm, SESSUMS LAW GROUP, P.A. The firm has office locations in Lakeland, Florida and Sebring, Florida.
Section 627.727, Florida Statutes