How Insurance Stacking Can Affect Your Accident Claim

Auto Insurance policy with keys and glasses

Understanding auto insurance laws in Pennsylvania can be challenging. This is especially true when it comes to whether you have the right to “stack” certain benefits offered by separate policies. The car accident lawyers at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, providing services throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, are well-versed in the latest developments in the law. We can help you maximize your insurance benefits after a crash-related injury.

Which Types of Auto Insurance Coverage Can Be Stacked?

Before you can fully understand how stacking works, it’s important to know which insurance benefits can be used in this way. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) provides benefits when someone is injured by a motorist without liability insurance or a driver who has low policy limits. UM/UIM coverage can be stacked.

If a motorist who’s injured by an uninsured driver is covered by two policies and their accident-related damages exceed one policy’s UM/UIM maximum limits, they may use coverage from both policies. For example, if spouses have two car insurance policies with $15,000 of UM/UIM coverage on each, if one of them is injured in a crash, the maximum the injured person may receive after stacking is $30,000.

Under the no-fault insurance laws of Pennsylvania, an injured party’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits pay for an injured party’s medical treatment, regardless of who was at fault for an accident. Unlike UM/UIM coverage, PIP and liability coverage cannot be stacked.

Legal Developments Surrounding Stacking of UM/UIM Benefits

In the past, insurance companies in Pennsylvania often used the “household exclusion” rule to deny injured victims the right to stack UM/UIM benefits. However, in a decision concerning a 2019 case involving a man who was hurt in a motorcycle accident, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against the use of the household exclusion. This landmark decision overturned decades of case law and ruled that it also applied retroactively, which may affect claims involving UM/UIM stacking going all the way back to the 1990s.

Why You Should Purchase UM/UIM Insurance

Although this decision was a win for car insurance policyholders in Pennsylvania, it won’t do you much good if you don’t have UM/UIM coverage on your policy. Although this coverage is optional it’s worth paying a little bit more to ensure you’re fully covered in the event of an accident, regardless of whether you have multiple policies that may provide stacked benefits.

How a Lawyer Can Help Maximize Your Insurance Benefits

Few people have a complete understanding of the terms of their auto insurance policies and what they cover. Personal injury attorneys who have experience handling car accident claims can thoroughly review your policies and decipher the often confusing jargon that insurers use to avoid paying the maximum on valid claims. Although the household exclusion is now prohibited under Pennsylvania law, insurance adjusters use all kinds of tactics to minimize compensation or deny claims.

Whether you’ve already filed a claim involving UM/UIM benefits or you’re thinking of doing so, an experienced accident attorney can help you recover all the benefits to which you may be entitled. They also will investigate and determine whether any other sources of compensation may be available to you. For example, if a third party with higher policy limits shares liability for causing an accident, your attorney may be able to pursue compensation from their insurance company as well. Personal injury lawyers offer free consultation, so having an attorney evaluate your case won’t cost you anything.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Eastern PA

At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, we understand that dealing with insurance issues while you’re trying to focus on your recovery can be stressful and overwhelming. Let us take some of the weight off your shoulders and help you recover the maximum compensation you need and deserve. To learn more about UM/UIM and how stacking may affect your claim, contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900. We serve clients throughout the Lehigh Valley and eastern Pennsylvania.

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