Do You Need Stacked Insurance if You Only Have One Car?

Stacked insurance is an option that can provide drivers with extra protection in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. By combining or “stacking” coverage from multiple vehicles or policies, you can increase the limits of your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.

But what if you only have one car? Is stacked insurance still an option?

Below we’ll explain when stacked insurance is beneficial, what the requirements are, and whether it makes sense if you just have a single vehicle.

What is Stacked Insurance Coverage?

With stacked insurance, you take the UM/UIM coverage from two or more cars or policies and “stack” them together to raise the available limits.

For example:

  • Car 1 has $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage
  • Car 2 has $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage

If stacked, you’d have $200,000 in available coverage that can be applied toward injuries or damages from an uninsured/underinsured driver, instead of just the $100,000 per vehicle.

Stacking can be done vertically (with multiple vehicles on one policy) or horizontally (with multiple policies for multiple cars with the same insurer). It provides an extra layer of financial protection if you’re severely injured by a driver with minimal or no insurance.

The Benefits of Stacked Insurance

The main benefit of stacking insurance coverage is the increased protection. If you live in a state with a high rate of uninsured motorists, stacking can safeguard you from massive medical bills or auto repair costs.

Some key advantages include:

  • Higher coverage limits – Stacked policies can quickly increase UM/UIM limits to $300,000, $500,000 or more.

  • Protects from underinsured drivers – Inadequate coverage is common. Stacking provides a buffer.

  • No policy cap – Without stacking, coverage maxes out at the limit for one vehicle/policy.

  • Affordable – Marginal cost increase compared to dramatic limit jumps.

  • Customizable – Let’s you tailor coverage to your comfort level.

For relatively little additional premium cost, stacking can provide much more robust UM/UIM protection.

When is Stacked Insurance a Good Idea?

Stacking your auto insurance is generally a smart move if:

  • You own multiple vehicles under the same policy
  • You have multiple policies with the same insurer
  • You live in a state that allows stacking
  • Uninsured drivers are common in your state
  • Minimum liability limits in your state are low
  • You want higher UM/UIM coverage limits
  • You can afford the minor premium increase

Without stacking, your UM/UIM recovery is confined to whatever limit you have per vehicle or per policy. So it offers far less protection.

Requirements for Stacked Insurance Coverage

While stacked insurance can be beneficial, it’s not an option for everyone. There are a few key requirements:

  • Multiple vehicles – You must insure at least two cars to have coverage to stack.

  • Same insurance company – The vehicles or policies must be with the same insurer.

  • State approval – Your state must allow stacking. Currently 32 states do.

  • Insurer approval – The insurance company must offer stacking. Some don’t.

  • Additional premium – There is usually an added fee to stack, though minimal.

Unless you have two or more cars insured with an insurer that offers stacking, you won’t qualify. But you can still raise your UM/UIM limits.

Can You Get Stacked Insurance With One Car?

Unfortunately, stacked insurance isn’t an option if you only have one car. Without at least two insured vehicles, there’s no additional UM/UIM coverage that can be stacked.

However, there are a couple alternative ways to boost protection if you have a single car:

  • Increase UM/UIM limits – If your current limits seem low, you can always raise them, usually for a small hike in premium. This is done on a per-policy basis.

  • Add underinsured motorist coverage – If you already have high uninsured motorist limits, adding UIM protection can provide further protection.

  • Purchase umbrella insurance – An umbrella policy sits above your auto coverage and can increase overall limits.

  • Buy optional excess UM/UIM – Some insurers offer this add-on coverage for additional limits.

  • Insure other household vehicles – Covering another car you own, even an old one not driven, can allow stacking.

These options can help provide higher coverage limits similar to stacking. But without multiple insured vehicles, true stacked insurance isn’t possible.

How Much Does Stacked Insurance Increase Premiums?

One concern with stacked insurance is potentially higher premium costs. However, in most cases stacking only leads to a minor rise in overall rates.

For example, a driver with two cars and $250,000 in UM/UIM coverage might pay $150 per vehicle for a total of $300 annually. If they stacked to get $500,000 in coverage, their total premium might only increase to $340.

Factors affecting the price to stack policies include:

  • Number of vehicles/policies being stacked
  • Current UM/UIM limits per vehicle/policy
  • New stacked totals
  • Insurer’s stacking premium factors
  • State insurance regulations

Generally, going from standard unstacked to stacked insurance may increase annual rates by $50 to $100 in total. While not free, that’s relatively affordable for doubling or tripling your coverage limits.

Is Stacked Insurance Mandatory?

There is no state that requires stacking auto insurance. Even in the 32 states that allow it, stacked coverage remains optional. Drivers can reject it and keep unstacked limits if preferred.

However, when initially purchasing a policy, some insurers default to stacked unless rejected in writing. Always check your policy documents to see if stacking applies to your policy, particularly if you only wanted coverage for one car.

Declining stacking when permitted can lower your overall premiums a bit. But you lose the advantage of higher UM/UIM limits in the event of an accident. Weigh the trade-offs carefully.

The Bottom Line – Single Car Stacked Insurance

At the end of the day, purchasing stacked insurance requires covering two or more vehicles on the same policy, or with multiple policies from the same insurer. Without meeting this threshold requirement, stacking coverage limits is unfortunately not possible.

But higher uninsured/underinsured motorist limits are still beneficial. If you only have one car, work with your insurer to raise UM/UIM coverage to a level you’re more comfortable with. Or explore adding umbrella insurance for more protection across all policies.

While not exactly the same as stacking multiple policies, increased single-policy limits, umbrella insurance, and other options can still offer more financial protection. This can give peace of mind if you’re ever in an accident with a negligent uninsured or underinsured driver.

Uninsured Motorist Car Insurance Explained by Lawyer Matt Powell UM/UIM


Is stacking auto insurance worth it?

If your state has low liability limits or has a high rate of uninsured drivers, having a stacked policy raises your levels of coverage to provide even better protection. Remember that not all states or insurers allow stacking, so it’s best to check availability at the onset of your policy.

What is a no stacking rule in insurance?

Unstacked insurance refers to auto insurance coverage limits that cannot be combined across vehicles or polices. Stacked insurance is a great way to safeguard your finances in the case of an accident.

What does it mean by rejecting the stacked limit?

You have the right to reject stacked limits of Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. If you reject stacked limits, then each vehicle insured under the policy will have its own limits of Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Rejecting stacked limits will reduce your auto insurance premium.

What is better stacked or unstacked?

The main advantage of an unstacked policy over a stacked one is that it can reduce your premium. However, due to the lower bodily injury coverage limits, you may have to cover your medical costs out of your own pocket if you are injured in a car accident with an uninsured at-fault driver.

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