Stacked Vs. Unstacked Insurance

Combining policies (stacking) can be a good strategy for extending coverage, but it may not be better. Learn about stacked vs unstacked insurance with this informative article.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Stacked insurance allows you to combine multiple vehicles or policies, while unstacked insurance limits coverage to one vehicle.
car insurance
is beneficial because you can increase the maximum amount that an insurer will pay for an
uninsured motorist
claim. Unstacked insurance, on the other hand, is a more affordable option.
Which approach is right for you? The insurance comparison app
has compiled everything you need to know to make a decision about stacked vs. unstacked insurance, including how it works, where it’s legal, and the pros and cons of each.
Read on to learn more about strategically setting up your car insurance policy.
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How does stacked insurance work?

Stacked insurance
means that you have car insurance policies that combine limits, so you can file multiple claims after an accident. It’s only applicable to uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
There are two ways you can stack insurance—either within one policy (aka, vertically stacked insurance) or across multiple policies (aka, horizontally stacked insurance)—and we’ll cover both.

Vertically stacked insurance

To vertically stack insurance, you will have one car insurance policy that covers multiple vehicles.
Let’s say you own three cars. Each car has its own UM/UIM limit, for example, $40,000. This is the amount you could be reimbursed by the insurance company if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver.
If stacking is allowed in your state, you could stack the policy on each of your three cars. In other words, if you get into a UM/UIM accident in any one of your cars, you could file a claim for all three vehicles for a total of $120,000.

Horizontally stacked insurance

Instead of using one policy, like vertically stacked insurance, horizontal stacking uses multiple policies. To do it, you will need to use the same insurance company for your multiple policies.
Here’s how it works. After a UM/UIM accident, you can file a claim on more than one of your policies and you’ll boost the total compensation. You can do this even if your policies are for different cars.
For example, let’s say you have a $10,000 UM/UIM policy for one car and a $100,000 policy on another car. If you get into an accident while driving either vehicle, you can file claims under both of your policies. That means your total payment could be $110,000.
Key Takeaway Both vertically and horizontally stacked insurance offer excellent benefits to drivers.

Benefits of stacked insurance

The major benefit of stacked insurance is that it protects your finances.
Serious accidents are always expensive, but they can be even more expensive when one party is an uninsured motorist. Why? When you get into an accident with a driver that has no coverage or insufficient coverage, you will not get much help from their insurance company with your repair costs or medical expenses.
Stacked insurance can help protect you from spending an enormous money out-of-pocket after an accident with an uninsured motorist.

How to get stacked insurance

The first step is to see whether or not you live in a state that allows insurance stacking.
Next, you must have UM/UIM coverage on multiple vehicles, either on one policy or with several policies. Finally, you have to make sure your insurance company allows insurance stacking. Some companies are very clear about denying it, so make sure that you read the fine print.
States that allow insurance stacking
Delaware (horizontally only)
Georgia (horizontally only)
New Hampshire
New Jersey (horizontally only)
New Mexico
New York (horizontally only)
North Carolina (horizontally only)
Oklahoma (horizontally only)
Oregon (horizontally only)
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Tennessee (horizontally only)
Texas (horizontally only)
Utah (horizontally only)
West Virginia
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How does unstacked insurance work?

Unstacked insurance just means that you keep a single policy for each vehicle. It’s commonly the default insurance option.
However, some people choose unstacked insurance as a strategy. When you have more than one car or policy and avoid stacking them, you could enjoy lower overall monthly premiums. Of course, you might go with unstacked insurance because your state or insurance company doesn’t allow insurance stacking.
Keep in mind that, with unstacked auto insurance, your payout amount can never be greater than your policy limit for UM/UIM.
Key Takeaway Not every state or insurance company allows stacking, but you can still make a strategic choice about your coverage.

Benefits of unstacked insurance

Unstacked insurance usually means a lower coverage limit, which translates to a lower premium. So if cost is a primary concern for you, unstacked insurance could be a good idea.

Stacked vs. unstacked auto insurance: How to choose

You may think stacking is a great idea, but the decision may not be entirely up to you. Each state and insurance company has its own rules. For example, in Alabama, you can stack vertically or horizontally—but only up to three vehicles.
Start by getting quotes from multiple companies using
. Be aware that UM/UIM coverage is optional in some states. However, it might be worth buying coverage just for peace of mind (and it could be more affordable than you expect).
"Everything about switching to a new policy was a very pleasant experience. They took care of everything!" - Satisfied Jerry user

A few final things to be aware of

If you’re still on the fence between unstacked and stacked insurance, here are a few final points you should factor into the equation:
  • It is less likely that you will be able to stack insurance if you drive a motorcycle or other vehicle that is not a four-wheeled car.
  • UM/UIM may only apply if the other driver caused the accident. Some states won’t allow you to claim UM/UIM if you were at fault in an accident with an uninsured motorist.
  • Some states prohibit stacking coverage benefits for accidents where you were the driver. However, it may be allowed for accidents where you or your family were passengers or pedestrians.
It’s scary to think about getting into an accident. But that’s why you have car insurance!
Make sure you’re getting a great deal and great coverage by using
, the insurance comparison app. It’s free and it will take you 45 seconds, but you could save hundreds of dollars a year.
Jerry will even help you switch providers if you find a better deal. No paperwork, no phone calls—just savings and peace of mind. Whether you stack your insurance or not, Jerry helps you drive confidently knowing that you have protection.
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Frequently asked questions

What is the cost of uninsured motorist coverage?

UM/UIM is an add-on to your basic car insurance plan and it will cost approximately $50-75 annually. It is not required in every state.

Is it better to have stacked or unstacked insurance?

The answer depends on your goal—and what’s allowed. Each state and insurance company has its own rules. But generally speaking, stacked insurance is a better strategy for extending your coverage and unstacked insurance is better for saving money.

Do you need stacked insurance in Florida?

No, it is optional in Florida. Florida does not even require UM/UIM coverage. However, 20% of Florida drivers don’t have car insurance, so you should consider stacking or increasing
limits to protect yourself.
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