Montana car insurance laws

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Big Sky Country means there are plenty of scenic vistas to enjoy in Montana, but if you want to enjoy the views from your car, you should be familiar with basic Montana car insurance laws before getting behind the wheel. Montana may only have around 806,000 licensed drivers on the road, but it does not make Montana insurance laws any less important.

Car insurance laws in Montana

The insurance laws in Montana are similar to what many other states choose to enact. If you are driving in Montana, be prepared to:

  • Show proof of insurance when requested by an officer
  • Show proof of a driver’s license and registration
  • Carry minimum liability insurance coverage of 25/50/20: $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident and $20,000 for property damage per accident

Liability insurance in Montana

The 25/50/20 liability insurance minimums required by Montana are designed to provide protection for bodily injury and property damage you cause in an accident deemed your fault. However, carrying the minimums leaves you open to potential financial pitfalls.

For instance, the property damage limit is $20,000 per accident. Most new cars are priced well above the $20,000 mark. If the accident is ruled your fault, the other driver would have the right to sue you to recover the remaining costs to replace a totaled car.

The bodily injury liability minimum per person or accident are not as robust as what you should carry. The $50,000 per accident would barely cover medical costs if there were multiple injuries with a serious accident. The safest plan is to purchase as much liability coverage as you can afford to prevent any shortfalls with your coverage payouts.

Is Montana a no-fault state?

Montana follows the traditional at-fault laws, like the majority of other states. Drivers in Montana are legally required to carry the minimum liability insurance the state mandates.

This also means if you are involved in an accident ruled as your fault, your insurance must provide liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage up to the limits of your policy. If there is not enough insurance coverage, the other driver has the right to sue you to recover expenses.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Montana

Montana has clear and steep penalties for driving without insurance. First offenders caught driving without car insurance in Montana can be charged with a misdemeanor. You are also subject to a fine, and the penalty for a no-insurance citation is between $250 and $500 or up to 10 days in jail.

A second offense of driving without insurance results in a minimum $350 fine or 10 days in jail. Plus, your driver’s license is suspended for 90 days. Additionally, five points are added to your driving record. Once you have 30 points, your license is revoked.

A third or subsequent conviction for driving without insurance is subject to a fine of $500 or up to six months in prison.

Additional auto insurance coverage options in Montana

Drivers in Montana have the ability to customize their auto insurance policy to fit their needs and budget with several add-ons and options. The average insurance rate annually for Montanans is $301 for minimum coverage, and $1,722 for full coverage. Consider adding the following for enhanced coverage as your budget allows:

  • Collision: Collision insurance provides coverage for damage to your car as a result of a collision with another car or another object, such as a tree.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car not covered by collision. This includes events other than a car accident such as hail damage, flood, water, explosions, fire, theft and vandalism.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured motorist (UM and UIM): UM and UIM provide extra financial protection to you if you are in an accident and the at-fault driver has zero or inadequate insurance. It pays for your necessary medical payments, loss of income and other expenses related to the accident, even though the other driver does not have coverage.
  • Medical payments: If you want medical coverage regardless of which driver is at fault, the medical payments option provides coverage for injuries sustained in an accident.
  • Roadside assistance: If you ever find yourself out of gas, with a dead battery or in need of towing, roadside assistance can get you on your way. This optional coverage provides numerous benefits in case your car is inoperable.
  • Rental car reimbursement: If your car is in the repair shop due to damages from an accident, this option provides reimbursement for a rental car while. Some carriers work directly with a car rental company for billing, making it even more convenient for you.
  • Gap coverage: If you are a new car owner and finance or lease your payments, your lender may require you to add gap insurance. This covers the difference between the value of your car, which depreciates quickly, and what you owe your lender.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company in Montana?

There are several factors considered in order to name a carrier the best in Montana. Bankrate reviewed customer service satisfaction ratings, financial stability and competitive rates offered to determine the carriers that serve Montana customers the best. Pemco and USAA are highly ranked and offer numerous benefits for customers.

What is the cheapest car insurance in Montana?

Budget is a big concern for many drivers and fortunately you can find a comprehensive policy to fit your needs in almost any budget. Bankrate surveyed several carriers to find the cheapest options in Montana. USAA came in tops with least expensive rates, averaging $161 per year for minimum coverage and $982 for full coverage.

How can I lower my rates for car insurance?

Before excluding options you want to include on your policy, take time to shop around and compare multiple carriers and quotes. Make sure you are taking advantage of any and all discounts offered, including bundling, safe driver, paid in full and others. Taking on a higher deductible helps decrease your premiums. Lastly, a strong credit score keeps your premiums lower versus someone with a lower credit score.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman has three years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.