“Stacking” insurance policies is something somewhat unique that South Carolina allows an insured person to recover damages under more than one policy in succession until all the damages are satisfied by the amount set by the fact finder; or until the total limits of all policies have been exhausted.
So what does all this mean? In other words, an insured can recover for both the liability of the at-fault driver who hit them in the car accident, as well as any UIM coverage or benefits from the same policy if certain criteria apply. Namely, stacking policies is appropriate when a person is involved in an accident, and there is not enough coverage simply through liability OR UIM coverage. Only member of a “Class 1″ ranking will be permitted to stack.
Class 1 insured people include ” the named insured, the resident spouse, and any resident relative.” This residency is not quite as broad as one may hope. It requires that the residency is more then transient in nature of the residence. In other words, the courts will look to the person’s driver’s license, mailing address, and where the registered to vote in order to see if they meet the “residency” requirement to stack policies. This typically comes in when a college student is using a “temporary” address while off at school, and want to use their parent’s vehicles to stack coverage.
A Class 1 insured that has UIM coverage on their vehicle that is involved in the accident has damages in excess of their coverage, they may stack UIM coverage from other policies in an amount equal to the coverage on the car that was involved in the accident, which is referred to as the ” measuring vehicle.” The Class 1 members are ONLY allowed to use the UM to stack if they were involved in the accident, yet did not own the vehicle that was involved in the accident.
So for example, if a mother and her two daughters are going shopping in the eldest daughter’s personally owned vehicle, and are in an accident and the mother( front seat passenger) is injured, she is allowed to recover not only from her daughter’s UIM, but can also use the UIM on her vehicle at home, as well as any other vehicles that the family owns with UIM coverage, and stack all the coverage together to reach the needed amount. So, in the example, mom would recover 25,000 from her daughter’s UIM, and assuming she has a vehicle at home with 50,000 UIM, and the father has another vehicle with 30,000 UIM coverage, the mother would be permitted to receive up to 95,000 if that does not exceed the amount of coverage on the daughter’s car( as the measuring vehicle.)
Another important note to make here is that a person is not permitted to recover through both a UIM and UM coverage. The rationale behind this is that a person can not simultaneously be both an Uninsured Motorist( UM) and an Underinsured Motorist( UIM). You can not have a little bit of insurance and no insurance at the same time.
This may all sound very confusing; and in fact, it is confusing. If you find yourself involved in a personal injury suit due to a serious car accident, contact the attorneys at Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for a free consultation, and to see if you qualify as a Class 1 member entitled to stack.