If you have been injured in a car accident and you have been doing research about filing an insurance claim online, you may have come across references to “stacking.” Stacking is an important concept that can significantly increase the compensation available to accident victims in some cases. However, (i) stacking does not apply to all accident claims, and (ii) in order to maximize your financial recovery, you need to know how to stack your insurance coverage effectively.
When Can Car Accident Victims Stack Their Insurance Coverage?
The first thing to know about stacking is that it only applies to uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance. This is insurance that you buy to protect yourself in the event that you are injured by a driver who does not have auto insurance, or by a driver who has only minimal insurance that is inadequate to cover your losses. Unlike bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance, Colorado law does not require drivers to carry UIM insurance, so the first question you need to answer is whether you are paying for UIM.
If you are paying for UIM, then the next question is: How many of your vehicles have UIM coverage? This is where stacking comes into play. If you have UIM coverage for more than one vehicle, then under Colorado law you are entitled to “stack” your policy limits in order to increase the total amount of your financial recovery.
Let’s look at an example:
Example No. 1: You were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver who was uninsured. Your losses total $150,000, and you have UIM coverage for two vehicles with policy limits of $50,000 each.
In this scenario, assuming no other relevant facts that would limit your recovery, you would be entitled to stack your UIM policy limits to recover $100,000 of your accident-related losses.
Now, let’s look at another example:
Example No. 2: You were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver who has $25,000 in BIL coverage – the minimum required by Colorado law. Your losses total $150,000, and you have UIM coverage for two vehicles with policy limits of $50,000 each.
In this scenario, again assuming no other relevant facts, you would be entitled to collect $25,000 from the drunk driver’s insurance company and $100,000 under your combined (or stacked) UIM policies.
Proof of Fault is Required to Stack UIM Coverage in Colorado
As you can see, in many cases, stacking UIM coverage can be essential to helping auto accident victims recover from the financial and non-financial effects of their injuries. However, one other important thing to know about UIM insurance is that it provides fault-based coverage. In other words, in order to recover compensation under your UIM insurance policy, you must be able to prove that the uninsured or underinsured driver is to blame for your injuries. As a result, when filing a UIM claim and seeking to stack your coverage, it is important to have experienced legal representation. To learn more, contact us for a free initial consultation today.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Levine Law
If you would like to speak with an attorney about filing a UIM claim for an auto accident in Denver, we invite you to contact us to discuss your case. To schedule an appointment as soon as possible, please call 303-333-8000 or send us a message online today.