In Pennsylvania, many drivers carry state required minimum liability coverage of $15,000 on their car insurance policies. That means if an insured driver causes an accident and injures another driver, the maximum recovery the injured driver may receive from the insured driver's insurance company is $15,000.
What happens in situations where the injured driver’s injuries and damages exceed $15,000? That is when the injured driver’s underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage comes into play. If the injured driver’s UIM coverage is $15,000 and his injuries/damages are $50,000, then he may make a UIM claim, up to the limit of $15,000. Therefore, the injured driver may receive a total of $30,000.
Suggested Reading: Pennsylvania UM/UIM Coverage –Why Didn’t Anyone Explain This To Me?
However, since the injured driver’s damages and injuries are $50,000, he is not able to recover the full value of his injuries and damages. Many injured drivers in this situation may think that there is nothing else they can do, but that is not always the case.
Many Pennsylvania injured drivers do not know that they may be able to “stack” UIM/UM benefits, and therefore, increase the amount of recovery. If an injured driver is covered by 2 or more UIM/UM polices at the same time, he may add together or “stack” the benefits under each separate policy. The most common example is the following: A husband has a car covered under policy A with an UIM coverage of $15,000. His wife has a car that is covered under policy B, also with an UIM coverage of $15,000. The wife’s car insurance policy designates the husband as an insured. Using the above accident example, the husband may be able to “stack” the UIM coverage from his own car insurance policy and his wife’s policy and recover $30,000 from a UIM claim.
For uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, if the injured husband was injured by a driver who did not have car insurance, then he would make a UM claim and may also be able to stack UM benefits.
However, stacking is only permitted if the injured is a “class one” insured, which is the named insured and resident relatives. Therefore, in the above example where the at-fault driver has $15,000 liability coverage, because the husband is a named insured on his wife’s car insurance policy, he is a “class one” insured. He may “stack” UIM benefits and may be able to receive $45,000 in financial recovery as opposed to $30,000. If the at-fault driver does not have a car insurance policy, then the injured husband may recover $30,000 after stacking UM benefits.
Figuring out when UIM/UM benefits can be stacked is very confusing. That is why it is important to seek advice from a Pennsylvania car accident injury lawyer who knows the law and knows how to analyze car insurance policies. Call the lawyers at White and Williams who can help you through this process. Dan O’Brien and his team always offer a FREE initial consultation. 877.944.8396