By: James Crytzer
According to the Insurance Research Council,
more than 12 percent of drivers in Nevada are uninsured. Therefore, in order to protect you and your family, it is imperative
that we all understand and consider what could happen to you or a loved
one injured by an uninsured motorist. This article addresses one area
for potential recovery in these unfortunate circumstances. While the guilty
party may not have coverage, you must examine each and every insurance
policy at issue, to determine whether coverage exists and whether it may
Basic Insurance Requirements:
The State of Nevada requires that every individual operating a vehicle carry a minimum liability
insurance policy. A minimum policy covers up to $15,000 for the bodily injury or death
of an individual in any one accident.
See NRS 485.185(1). Additionally, the policy covers up to $30,000 for bodily
injury or death of two (2) or more persons in any one accident, and $10,000
for the injury to, or the destruction of, property of others in any one
See NRS 485.185(2)(3). This minimum level of coverage is often referred to
Uninsured Motorists Protections:
Traditionally, when an accident is caused by another person, the at-fault
party’s coverage will pay your medical bills or property damage.
Following exhaustion of the liability coverage, you may be responsible
for any and all outstanding medical bills and/or property damage. Worse,
if an accident occurs with an uninsured motorist, you may be responsible
for the entirety of your medical bills and property damage.
To avoid this risk, we suggest purchasing Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured
Motorist (UIM) coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage will cover expenses that result from an accident with an individual who
does not have insurance.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage will cover the remainder of the costs of injuries and property damage
following exhaustion of the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
In Nevada, an insurer must offer uninsured underinsured motorist coverage
equal to the limits of coverage of bodily injury.
See NRS 687B.145(2);
Peterson v. Colonial Insurance Co., 686 P.2d 239 (1984). Additionally, Uninsured Motorist Coverage includes
Underinsured Motorist Coverage. NRS 690B.0202(3).
Further Protection via UIM/UM Stacking:
Even with UM/UIM coverage, it is possible that a severe accident will result
in medical bills and injuries beyond your UM/UIM limits. Nevada allows
for the “stacking” of UM/UIM coverage, which authorizes the
collection from more than one insurance policy.
Insurance Stacking Within the Same Policy:
“[When] the insurer issues two automobile policies containing uninsured
motorist coverage, the extent of coverage is the combined total amount
of such policies, and actual damages sustained by the insured are recoverable
to the full extent of the combined limits of both policies.”
United States Auto Ass’n v. Dokter, 487 P.2d 583, 585 (1970).
See also Travelers Ins. Co. v. Lopez, “An insured is entitled to payment
in full up to the policy limit, with respect to
each policy under which coverage is afforded.” 567 P. 2d 471, 474 (1977).
Nevada Law is clear on this issue. If you have multiple vehicles with UM/UIM
coverage, you can “stack” each policy to cover your medical
bills and property damage. For example: If you have two cars that are
each insured with $25,000 of bodily injury coverage and are involved in
an accident with an uninsured or underinsured individual, you may be able
to stack your policies, resulting in the collection of up to $50,000.
Stacking With Different Policies:
TheTravelers Insurance case previously cited also dictated one’s ability to stack insurance
coverage across different policies. The Supreme Court stated, “There
exists no legislative prohibition against the “stacking” of
insurance policies when
both insurers are at the same level of priority.”
Travelers Ins. Co. v. Lopez, 567 P. 2d 471, 473 (1977).
For example: If you have two vehicles, one which is insured with $25,000
of bodily injury coverage with Insurance Group A and a second which has
$50,000 of coverage with Insurance Group B, you may be able to collect
up to $75,000. It may not matter whether you are driving Vehicle 1 or
Calculating UM/UIM Collections:
If you are
involved in an accident in Nevada and the at-fault party is underinsured or uninsured, you can make a claim
for UIM/UM benefits on your own policy. Nevada Law specifically compensates
you for damages
in excess of the at-fault party’s policy. (NRS 687B.145(2))
For example, if an at-fault driver carries at $25,000 dollar liability
policy and you carry a $50,000 dollar UIM/UM policy, your UIM/UM policy
will pay for all damages in excess of $25,000 up to an additional $50,000.
This allows for a recovery up to $75,000.
The Nevada Legislature provided a means for insurance companies to prevent
the stacking of Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
Neumann v. Standard Fire Ins. Co. of Hartford, 699 P.2d 101, 103 (1985). There are three prerequisites to determining
the validity of an anti-stacking provision:
- The limiting provision must be expressed in clear language;
- The provision must be prominently displayed in the policy, binder, or endorsement; and
- The insured must not have purchased separate coverage on the same risk
nor paid a premium calculated for full reimbursement under that coverage.
Non-compliance with either of the first two prerequisites or payment of
a double premium, notwithstanding compliance with the first two prerequisites,
will render the limiting provision void.
Id.; see also
Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Coatney, 118 Nev. 180, 42 P.3d 265 (2002); NRS 687B.145(1)
Valid Anti-Stacking Provision:
Below is an example of a valid anti-stacking provision. Please note the
clear and prominent language stating that “Coverage may not be added,
stacked, or combined based on the number of autos of persons insured.”
Ensuring Insurance Stacking:
As noted above, Nevada allows insurance companies to deny your ability
to stack insurance coverage. To better protect yourself, it is important
that you contact your insurance agent and request the ability to stack
coverage. You will likely be unable to stack without an endorsement from
your agent, as an anti-stacking provision is likely in your current policy.
If you would like to consult with a reputable insurance agent,
please contact us and we can refer you to someone.
If you have been involved in a car or motor vehicle accident, let us maximize
your recovery. An experienced injury attorney and firm can
evaluate your various insurance policies to see if coverages can be "stacked"
to properly compensate you for your injuries and damages.