Florida Motor Vehicle Insurance Law: What is Stacked Coverage?

stacking.jpgStacking coverage is one of the most misunderstood areas of Florida’s motor vehicle insurance laws. The goal of this blog is to help clear up the confusion.

Stacked coverage is a type of coverage that is available within the broader type of coverage known as uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance. Neither coverage is mandatory under Florida law.

In Florida, the only mandatory coverages are Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage – Liability. Every other type of coverage is optional.

One type of optional coverage is Bodily Injury, or BI. BI coverage pays for personal injuries, death, and economic losses caused by the insured’s negligence. Because an additional premium is charged for BI coverage, it is not purchased by every insured.

Uninsured/Underinsured coverage protects against the negligent motorist who does not have BI coverage – UM takes its place – or whose BI coverage limits are not sufficient to cover the losses – UIM. In other words, it performs for the insured (the person who has been damaged) as the at-fault party’s BI coverage otherwise would have.

Whenever BI coverage is purchased, UM/UIM will be included in the policy unless waived in writing by the insured. Like BI, it is not mandatory and a premium will be charged for the coverage.

Stacked coverage is an optional type of coverage that is available with the purchase of UM/UIM coverage. Like UM/UIM, stacked coverage will be included in the policy unless waived in writing by the insured.

The common belief is that stacked coverage will always increase the amount of coverage available under a UM/UIM policy. This is the concept of aggregating, or adding together at least two UM policy limits to give greater coverage than a single policy limit alone. However, for aggregating to happen, the insured must own at least two vehicles with stacked UM/UIM coverage. For example, if the insured owns two vehicles with $100,000 of per person stacked UM/UIM coverage on each, a combined $200,000 of coverage is available to the insured. If, on the other hand, one of the vehicles does not have the stacked coverage, only $100,000 in coverage is available.

Stacked coverage does more than just aggregate two or more policies. One of the most important benefits is to extend UM/UIM coverage to other motor vehicles owned by the insured for which UM/UIM has not been purchased.

As this blog demonstrates, motor vehicle insurance issues can be confusing and consequential. We invite you to contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your legal rights.

Important legal references regarding the issues addressed in this blog:

Swan v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (Fla. 3d DCA April 2011)
Coleman v. Fla. Ins. Guar. Ass’n, 517 So.2d 686 (Fla. 1988)
Collins v. Gov’t Employees Ins. Co., 922 So.2d 353 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006)
Section 627.727 Florida Statutes
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.