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Uninsured Motorist Stacking

The Law Office of George O. Haskell, IV April 1, 2024

Uninsured motorist stacking is a legal tool that allows you to increase the amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage available in the event of an accident with a driver who lacks sufficient insurance. This is accomplished by combining the coverage limits of multiple policies under which the insured is covered, or by stacking the limits of coverage for multiple vehicles insured under a single policy.  

Essentially, this can help you get more money if you're in an accident with a driver who doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough insurance to cover your costs. In Georgia, you're allowed to stack uninsured motorist coverage, which can be extremely helpful for drivers who want more protection and assurance.  

If you are facing the repercussions of a car accident, contact our team at The Law Office of George O. Haskell, IV for legal assistance when communicating with insurance companies. Located in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas, including Milledgeville Houston County, Warner Robins, Monticello, and Forsyth. 

How Does Uninsured Motorist Stacking Work in Georgia?

In Georgia, the ability to stack uninsured motorist (UM) coverage hinges on the specific terms of your insurance policy and the circumstances of the accident. It's essential to understand that not all insurance policies automatically include stacking options. You may need to opt in or ensure your policy explicitly allows for stacking. Given the variations in policy terms, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is vital to determine whether stacking is possible and how best to structure your insurance coverage for maximum protection.  

One critical aspect of UM stacking in Georgia is the differentiation between "added-on" and "reduced by" coverage. "Added-on" coverage permits the stacking of UM limits across policies or vehicles, providing an aggregate limit that increases your protection. Conversely, "reduced by" coverage diminishes the available UM coverage by the amount paid by the at-fault driver's insurance, limiting the potential benefits of stacking. Choosing the right type of coverage is paramount for maximizing the benefits of UM stacking.  

The concept of stacking is particularly beneficial in cases where the damages exceed the limits of a single vehicle's UM coverage. For example, if you have two vehicles on the same policy, each with UM coverage limits of $25,000, stacking would allow you to access a total of $50,000 in UM coverage. This enhanced coverage can make a significant difference in your ability to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages resulting from an accident.  

Stacked vs. Unstacked Insurance

Stacked insurance is when a policyholder combines the uninsured and underinsured bodily injury coverage limits of multiple vehicles or policies that they own. This increases the total available coverage and can be extremely beneficial in cases where the damages exceed the limits of a single vehicle's coverage. It's important to remember that stacked insurance: 

  • Applies only to underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, not to property damage or other auto insurance.  

  • Offers protection against accidents with drivers who have inadequate insurance coverage.  

  • It may cost more than unstacked insurance but provides higher potential payouts for medical expenses from accidents.  

  • Requires the policyholder to be named on each policy when stacking across multiple vehicles or policies.  

Unstacked insurance, also known as non-stacked insurance, does not allow policyholders to combine UM coverage limits. In this case, the policyholder can only access the UM coverage limit for the vehicle involved in the accident. This limited coverage may not be enough to cover all of the damages incurred, leaving the policyholder responsible for significant out-of-pocket expenses.

It's important to remember that unstacked insurance: 

  • Is a standard coverage that does not combine coverage across policies or vehicles.  

  • Is a default coverage in many states and is often presented as the only option by insurance companies.  

  • Offers limited protection compared to stacked insurance, especially in accidents involving underinsured or uninsured drivers.  

In Georgia, you are able to purchase either stacked or unstacked coverage, and the type of coverage plays a crucial role in determining the amount of compensation you can receive after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. By opting for stacked insurance, you can effectively increase your coverage limits, providing an added layer of financial security.  

Challenges of Obtaining Stacked vs. Unstacked Insurance in Georgia

While stacked insurance offers Georgia drivers greater protection in accidents involving underinsured or uninsured motorists, it is not without its complications. One of the primary challenges of opting for stacked insurance is the potential increase in premiums. Stacking coverage essentially increases the insurer's risk, which can lead to higher costs for the policyholder. This additional cost can be a significant consideration, especially for individuals or families on tight budgets. 

Additionally, the complexity of insurance policies is another challenge. Often, many policyholders find themselves confused about their coverage options and the process of opting-in for stacked insurance. This confusion can prevent individuals from taking full advantage of the protections available to them, or cause them to mistakenly believe they have higher coverage than they actually do. 

Insurance companies may also attempt to limit or deny coverage based on policy technicalities or interpretations of the law. For instance, insurers might argue that a policyholder explicitly rejected UM coverage or opted for traditional/offset UM coverage, which impacts the policyholder's ability to stack insurance. However, under Georgia law, insurers are required to provide written proof of such rejections or selections. If they fail to do so, policyholders may still be entitled to UM coverage and the benefits of stacking.  

Knowledgeable Legal Guidance

Our team at The Law Office of George O. Haskell, IV, possesses the experience necessary to navigate stacked vs. unstacked insurance. We are dedicated to helping you understand your rights and receive the full extent of coverage you are entitled to. By leveraging our knowledge of Georgia's auto insurance laws and our commitment to client advocacy, we strive to maximize compensation if you're injured in an accident involving uninsured or underinsured motorists.  

In Georgia, uninsured motorist stacking offers an additional layer of financial protection for drivers. Understanding your insurance policy's provisions regarding UM coverage and stacking is crucial in safeguarding yourself and your loved ones. At The Law Office of George O. Haskell, IV, we are here to assist you with reviewing your insurance policies, exploring your options for UM stacking, and advocating on your behalf to ensure you receive the coverage and compensation you deserve.  

If you have questions about uninsured motorist stacking or need assistance with any aspect of your auto insurance coverage, reach out to us for a free consultation. Our team is ready to provide you with the support and guidance you need when it comes to auto insurance in Georgia.