Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM) Stacking in Missouri & Kansas

Underinsured Motorist insurance (UIM) pays for injuries, such as medical expenses, that result from an accident caused by a driver who has too little insurance to cover all of the injuries. The concept is straightforward. If you suffer $400,000 worth of injuries in a car accident, but the person who hit you only has $100,000 worth of insurance, the UIM coverage would go towards compensating you for the $300,000 worth of injuries that are not otherwise covered. The idea behind UIM is that you should not have to suffer and pay extra money just because the person who caused the accident doesn’t have enough insurance.

However, UIM coverage gets slightly more complicated when multiple policies are included. Imagine in the example above if two cars hit your car instead of one. Let’s assume that you still sustained $400,000 worth of injuries and that each car that hit you was only insured up to $100,000. This would mean you would only be able to recover $200,000 total from both cars insurance policies. Let’s further assume that each driver who hit you only has $100,000 of UIM coverage. Under this scenario, you would need to recover both drivers UIM coverage in order to justly compensate you for your $400,000 worth of injuries. This concept, that you can add together multiple UIM policies, is called stacking. As you can see, in many instances stacking is the only way to get compensated for your injuries.

Missouri rules on stacking UIM coverage are different than some other states. As discussed in the recent case of Martin v. Auto Owners Ins. Co, Missouri courts look at the language in the insurance contract to determine if stacking is allowed. This is done on a case-by-case basis, so sometimes stacking is allowed and other times it is not. The general rule is if the language in the policy clearly prohibits stacking, then Missouri courts will not allow stacking to occur. However, if the language regarding stacking is at all unclear, then Missouri courts will interpret the policy to allow stacking.

Kanas law, while requiring UIM coverage, expressly prohibits stacking per K.S.A. 40–284(d). In Kansas an injured motorist can only recover up to the highest available UIM coverage amount from a single policyholder.