If you live in Montana and you’re looking at car insurance there for the first time, or looking to switch auto insurance, there are a number of car insurance laws you need to know about Montana.
Montana uses a “fault” insurance system, and you’re required to maintain a minimum level of insurance coverage.
Learn more about how Montana’s fault-based insurance system works, and what that means for you. In this article you’ll also see the best local insurance companies to choose from if you want to buy car insurance from a Montana insurance company.
Montana’s Fault Insurance System
Montana has a fault-based legal system in the case of a car accident. This system is used in determine who is responsible for costs related to a car accident, including injuries, job income, property damage, and more.
Ultimately, it falls on the insurance company of the at-fault driver to cover all of those costs, up to the limits of the insurance policy.
Whether at fault or not, in the case of an accident, people who need to recover the costs of damage or medical costs will follow one of the following options.
- File a claim with your own insurance company. If you’re not at fault, your insurance company will file a claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver).
- Submit a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. If the driver was 100% at fault, that insurance company will pay the claims up to the policy limits. If fault is in dispute, your insurance company and that of the other driver may need to go to arbitration.
- File a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If the court finds that driver at fault, their insurance company will need to cover the costs. If the driver doesn’t have insurance, they will be responsible for covering all of the costs out-of-pocket.
The difference between this and a no-fault system such as that in other states, medical bills need to surpass a certain threshold before you can file any claim (in court or as a third-party claim) against the other driver. You’re required to file a claim with your own insurance company first.
Required Insurance Minimums in Montana
The State of Montana has an established law that requires every driver in the state carry liability insurance on their vehicles.
The liability insurance you carry in Montana must have specific financial minimums to drive legally in the state. Those minimums are as follows.
- $25,000 for any injury or death per person affected in the accident
- $50,000 total liability coverage for injury or death caused by the accident
- $20,000 liability coverage for property damage such as that caused to the other car, buildings, or structures in an accident
Keep in mind that carrying only liability coverage is risky business. It may make your insurance premium less expensive, but in the case of an accident it’s very likely that the liability coverage won’t be enough.
In the case of a serious crash, it’s likely that the injuries and damage caused by the accident if far exceed liability insurance limits. This means that you will personally be held liable for remaining damages.
That means you’ll have to cover all of those costs out-of-pocket. When required by a court, it’s likely your personal assets and any financies you have would be at risk. This is why saving a little bit on a monthly payment just to enjoy the lower costs of liability-only insurance is a terrible risk to take.
Keep in mind that your liability comes into play even when you’ve allowed someone else to use your vehicle and they cause an accident.
In addition, liability coverage won’t cover your own personal injuries or property damage. That means in the case where your car is totaled, you’ll have no way at all to recover the cost of those damages so you can replace the car.
The Danger of Not Carrying Insurance
Since it’s a law that you need to carry at least liability insurance when you drive in the State of Montana, driving without it comes with serious penalties.
- First offense: If you’re stopped by an officer and you don’t have proof of insurance, you could face a fine from $250 to $500, or potentially up to 10 days in jail.
- Second offense: If you’re stopped a second time after already receiving a fine for no insurance, and you still have no insurance, you could receive a $350 fine or 10 more days in jail. You’ll also receive a black mark of 5 points on your driving record.
- Third offense: If you’re pulled over at caught without insurance a third time, you’ll face serious repercussions. You will either be fined $500, or put in jail for up to six months.
As you can see, the state of Montana takes auto insurance coverage seriously. Getting points on your license is also not a good thing. After racking up 30 points, you could have your driving license taken away.
Worst of all, the more legal problems you run into without insurance, the harder it will be to purchase insurance moving foward.
Montana Car Insurance Agents
The following insurance agents are rated as some of the best agents in the state of Montana.
- Insurance Agency of Montana: With offices in Billings, Montana, Insurance Agency of Montana is owned by experienced insurance agent Debra Larsen. The company does offer auto insurance, but also offers its customers other insurance products like home owners, business, boat, farm, and even offers companies worker’s compensation insurance.
- Montana Central Insurance: Located in both Missoula and Superior, Montana, offers both personal and business insurance products. The company is focused on offering Nationwide insurance products. Don’t let the state of the website fool you, this company is extremely highly rated by its customers throughout Montana.
- Insurance Unlimited: With headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, this insurance company offers auto, homeowners, business, and workers compensation for Montana customers throughout the state. Insurance Unlimited is rated 5 out of 5 stars by customers.
- Flathead Insurance: This insurance company is located in Kalispell, Montana, but also has an office in Hayden, Idaho. Flathead offers everything from auto and life insurance to to homeowners and even pet insurance. Flathead offers many testimonials from satisfied customers on its website.
- Marie Gary: If you’re a fan of Allstate Insurance, you’re going to want to reach out to Marie Gary in Bozeman, Montana. Mary is deeply involved in her community, so when you reach out to her she’ll help you look at all of Allstate’s insurance products and where they fit into your life.
- Grenfell Insurance: This is one of the highest rated insurance companies in Montana. Its office is located in Hamilton, Montana. Visiting Grenfell, you can purchase a quality, affordable auto insurance policy. In addition, Grenfell offers home, business, and even dental insurance.
Getting Car Insurance Quotes in Montana
Everyone knows that Montana is a beautiful state to life in. But even in such an amazing state, accidents happen. Being prepared means making sure that your car and everyone who rides in it is well protected from the bad things in life that sometimes happen
Choose one of these local agents, and visit their office to have a chat. All of them live in Montana and understand the unique insurance needs that Montana locals have. Have a chat with them and help them find the perfect insurance products for your life.