I met recently with a client who had separate policies for each of his vehicles. His insurance agent submitted PIP and UIM claims under only one of the policies. I suggested that UIM and PIP claims be submitted under each of the policies. In terms of UIM and PIP benefits, you do not need to be in a particular vehicle (or even in a vehicle for that matter) to obtain benefits.
The real issues is whether the client’s policies’ “anti-stacking” language prohibits the recovery of multiple benefits.
“Stacking” of UIM insurance occurs where multiple policies are layered upon each other, giving the insured UIM coverage beyond his or her UIM single policy limits. RCW 48.22.030(6), the UIM “anti-stacking” statute, provides:
The policy may provide that if an injured person has other similar insurance available to him under other policies, the total limits of liability of all coverages shall not exceed the higher of the applicable limits of the respective coverages.
Generally, anti-stacking clauses do not violate public policy. The public policy underlying UIM insurance is to provide a second, floating layer of coverage to protect persons who are injured by underinsured motorists. However, to be enforceable, an anti-stacking provision must be unambiguous. And that’s where many insurers can be exposed and compelled to pay multiple benefits to its insured.