As a Michigan consumer, you should always check your auto insurance coverages regularly to make sure you have enough coverage to protect your family and give you peace of mind in the event of a car accident.
The Insurance Research Council estimates that 12.6 percent of motorists on the road in 2019 were driving without car insurance. That equals to about 1 out of every 8 drivers behind the wheel of an automobile are driving without insurance. Driving without insurance is illegal in Michigan but getting into an accident with an uninsured driver can cost you dearly.
If you get into a severe car accident in Michigan with an uninsured motorist, your first thoughts may be how will you pay for your growing medical bills and replace your lost income. How will you get compensation for your damages?
Fortunately, if you purchased uninsured motorist coverage on your automobile insurance policy, you may be able to receive compensation for injuries. And if you have underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage that can be stacked, then you may be able to take care of your large medical bills.
But what is stacking insurance? And why is it beneficial to stack your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage? What you need to know.
In Michigan, uninsured and underinsured coverage is generally defined in the insurance policy as coverage that applies to you, your family, and any passengers for bodily injury if you are hit by an at-fault motorist who doesn’t have enough insurance (underinsured) or doesn’t have any insurance (uninsured) to cover your damages. For example, let’s assume you get into a horrific accident with another driver without auto insurance coverage who is at fault. You were severely injured in the accident, but the at-fault driver doesn’t have any car insurance. If you purchased uninsured motorist coverage of $250,000, you could collect up to $250,000 from your own household auto insurance carrier.
Let’s assume the at fault driver has auto insurance, but only has the minimum amount of liability insurance of $50,000, which won’t even cover half of your medical expenses and lost income. That means the rest of the medical bills and will be paid out of your own pocket unless you have underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage. If you have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, it will help you pay for your loss up to the limits.
In Michigan, car insurance companies are not required to offer UM and UIM motorist coverage. However, these essential coverages are cheap and optional for drivers to purchase. It’s also important to note that these options will not cover any damage to property, but they will cover any medical bills and losses caused by your injuries, including pain and suffering.
To put it simply, stacked car insurance allows you to combine both your UM and UIM motorist coverage limits for either multiple vehicles or policies in order to increase the maximum amount an insurer will pay for a claim. Unstackable insurance refers to auto insurance coverage limits that cannot be combined across motor vehicles or policies.
Stacked insurance is a good way to protect your finances if you get into an accident because stacked insurance will increase the maximum amount an insurer will pay for a claim. Your car accident can be costly and higher coverage limits means you pay less out of pocket.
You can stack auto insurance vertically within one policy or horizontally across multiple car insurance policies.
Your ability to get stacked insurance depends on your insurance company’s contract, the state you live in, and existing coverages.
Unstacked insurance is usually cheaper than stacked insurance because it offers lower coverage limits.
Stacked insurance offers better financial protection against uninsured motorist than unstacked coverage.
If you have an auto insurance policy under which two or more cars are insured with UM/UIM coverage. When you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can collect the limits of your own household UM and UIM auto insurance coverage, using coverages on as many motor vehicles as is necessary to receive full payment for your damages. For example, if you have a two-car policy with $100,000 worth of bodily injury UM and UIM coverage per person on each car, you can collect up to $200,000.
You have more than one auto insurance policy with UM and UIM coverage. The policies could be sold by the same insurer or two different insurers. To collect all your damages, you could make a claim under the UM and UIM coverages of each of the insurance policies you bought on your vehicles. For example, if you have one policy with $100,000 worth of UM or UIM bodily injury coverage per person and another policy with $50,000 worth of UM or UIM bodily injury coverage, you can collect up to $150,000 for any injury you suffer as a result of a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Unstackable insurance is when you have one auto policy on one vehicle and another policy on another vehicle, you are unable to combine the insurance limits because policy states you cannot stack policies. Sometimes, an unstackable policy has cheaper premium, but it could hurt you after a car accident with an uninsured motorist. You should check with your insurance agent about which of the auto policies offer are stackable.
For example, let’s say you get into a rear-end collision with an uninsured motorist. You only have the basic coverage of $15,000/$30,000. But the accident has injured your spinal cord and left you paralyzed from your neck down. You’re going to need years of rehabilitation and at-home attendant care. That money will quickly be spent. But if you had stackable policy with your spouse’s vehicle, the financial burden would be a little easier on your pocket.
Unless there is a clear and unambiguous anti-stacking provision in the policy, you can stack car insurance. In addition, there are also certain situations when UIM/UM insurance cannot be stacked, such as waiving your right to UIM/UM insurance. If you use your personal vehicle for business purposes, such as driving to business related meetings or making business related trips, you may also have a problem stacking your insurance coverage because of a business use exclusion in the policy.
If you are interested in stacking your UM or UIM insurance, your first step is to review your auto policy. Our law firm recommends to clients that they buy uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage, so you protect your family by making sure you have the coverages available. Remember, please don’t reject, or lower your $250,000 minimum limits for UIM coverage and $250,000 minimum UM coverage because it could hurt you in the long run.
If you get into a car accident with an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist, please make sure you contact a car accident lawyer at Dedvukaj Law. We will review the details of your auto accident case, give you legal advice on how to proceed, negotiate with the insurance company, and make sure you get the compensation you rightfully deserve following the accident. Dedvukaj Law has an expert team of experienced lawyers in Michigan and surrounding areas to start your car accident claim.
Remember, choose carefully when talking to a Michigan car accident attorney. Contact us today at 1-866-HIRE-JOE to learn about your coverage options.