In many cases, the victims of auto accidents have a real uphill battle when it comes to obtaining the compensation that they need and deserve. The concept of stacking auto insurance policies was developed to help the victims of auto accidents, and only certain states allow it. Fortunately for South Carolina drivers, ours is among those that do. Yet, you may not have even heard of this, and most people don’t realize how beneficial it can be. Here, we’re going to explain what auto insurance policy stacking actually is and why it’s a good idea for you do it.
What Exactly Is Auto Insurance Policy Stacking and How Does it Work?
When you stack your auto insurance policies, you are able to use more than one policy to cover your damages after an auto accident. In South Carolina, all drivers are required to carry auto insurance coverage, just like other states. However, South Carolina law specifies that the insurance is for the driver, not just the vehicle. If you or someone in your household has uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on a vehicle that wasn’t involved in the accident, you can still file a claim with that coverage, because it isn’t really just for that vehicle; it’s for the drivers/policy holders, regardless of which vehicle they’re driving. Thus, you can turn to any and all auto insurance policies that you are covered by, rather than being limited to one.
Making Sense of Policy Stacking with UIM Coverage
If you have UIM coverage on your auto insurance policy, and if the liability coverage of the at-fault driver is not enough to cover your damages, then you can file a claim with the UIM coverage, ‘stacking’ on top of the claim with the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. You are allowed to seek compensation from this coverage up to the amount that you have on the given vehicle as well as other vehicles, with each policy.
To illustrate, let’s say that you have $25K of UIM coverage, the at-fault driver had $25K in liability coverage. In this case, you have as much as $50K in coverage. However, if you have other vehicles, not involved in the accident, that also have UIM coverage, then you can use these policies too. Let’s imagine that you have one vehicle at home that wasn’t involved in the accident, and it also has UIM coverage of $25K.
Now, in addition to the $50K of coverage that we’ve already accounted for, you have another $25K – up to $75K in coverage. If you have two other vehicles with UIM policies of $25K each, then you could have as much as $100K in coverage for your damages, with all of your UIM policies and the liability of the at-fault driver.
Without the option of stacking your policies, you would only have had the $25K of the at-fault driver and the $25K of the involved vehicle to work with. With the option of stacking, you could have far more coverage for your damages than you originally thought you had access to.
The Limits of Auto Insurance Policy Stacking
It is important to note that you cannot stack your auto insurance policies if you don’t need to. In other words, if your damages are covered by your UIM coverage on one vehicle, then you can’t simply get extra money from your other UIM policies. Stacking is useful and necessary when your damages exceed the auto insurance coverage available from your UIM coverage and/or the liability coverage of the at-fault party. In cases where the at-fault driver is uninsured or flees the scene (as in a hit and run auto accident), the ability to stack policies can be even more beneficial, since you may not otherwise have enough coverage for your medical expenses, much less your property damage or other associated expenses.
How Can You Recover the Compensation You Need by Stacking Your Policies?
The best way to get help with the process of stacking auto insurance policies to recover all of the compensation that you require after an auto accident is to contact a determined South Carolina auto accident attorney for advice and guidance. At the Connell Law Firm, we’ll provide a free consultation to discuss the unique details of your auto accident and the options available to you. Call us today to schedule that consultation and get started in the right direction.