Appeals court reverses 'stacking' decision in Geico case

By Sam Knef | Jul 2, 2017

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District has sided with Geico Casualty Co. in the insurer's appeal of a summary judgment that allowed "stacking" of underinsured motorist coverage limits on three vehicles in a single policy. 

A three-judge appeals panel issued its decision June 20 in a case litigated in St. Louis Circuit Court between Geico and its client Aaron A. Clampitt.

Clampitt had been insured in a car crash and received $25,000 from the other driver's insurance company, according to background information in the ruling. However, that amount did not cover his damages so he turned to Geico, making a claim under his underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on a policy that insured three vehicles.

Geico paid Clampitt a $50,000-per-person policy limit under his UIM coverage for one vehicle. Subsequently, the parties agreed to litigate the question on whether additional UIM coverage related to the other vehicles could be stacked.

Circuit Court Judge Joan L. Moriarty declared that it could be stacked.

The appeals panel, which included Presiding Judge Angela Quigless and Judges Robert Dowd Jr. and Lisa Van Amburg, reversed Moriarty's decision, directing her to enter judgment in favor of Geico.

"It is undisputed that in the body of the policy, UIM coverage is subject to limitations that prohibit stacking," the ruling states.

"In relevant part, the policy states that the limits of liability shown on the declarations page apply 'regardless of the number of insured autos involved in the accident ... vehicles on premiums shown in the declarations or premiums paid,' the per person limit of liability in the declaration 'is the limit of our liability for all damages ... sustained by one person as the result of one accident,' and 'when coverage is afforded to two or more autos, the limits of liability shall apply separately to each auto as stated in the declarations but shall not exceed the highest limits of liability applicable to one auto'."

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