Montana’s diverse terrain includes mountains and open spaces, both of which make for fun car trips. However, changes in terrain and elevation increase the risk of auto accidents, and Montana’s abundant snowfall and seasonal rains only add to the dangers on the roads.
These are just some of the reasons Montana’s average car insurance rates ranks second-highest in the nation, after only Michigan. That’s right; residents pay more for coverage than just about every other American. But don’t despair! We’re here to help.
Over the course of this page, you’ll find plenty of information about discounts and other ways you can reduce your premium payments. Most importantly, though, it’s essential that you comparison shop for the best rate on the level and types of coverage you need. If it’s time to find a new policy, let us help out by instantly serving up carrier-neutral quotes from leading carriers in Montana.
Choosing an insurance company may seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help. If you’re wondering where to begin your search for a new car insurance policy, J.D. Power ranked the top carriers in Montana. These were the three leaders (see the full list).
Customer satisfaction scores, coverage flexibility, and affordability are top considerations when choosing an insurance carrier, but not everyone has the same needs or wants. SmartFinancial allows you to quickly and easily compare coverage quotes and details to make sure you get the best possible policy for your lifestyle and budget.
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Auto insurance exists to protect you and other drivers on the road against the potential financial devastation associated with auto accidents. It might not be your first pick for how you want to spend your hard-earned money each month, especially if you haven’t had an accident in years. But imagine what would happen if you’re involved in a serious crash that leaves you carless, unable to work, and with expensive medical bills. Auto insurance truly does serve an important purpose.
Montana Driving Safety
Motor vehicle accidents remain the number one cause of unintentional injury and the leading cause of death for residents of Montana between the ages of 1 and 44 years. And, since three-quarters of those killed in crashes were unrestrained at the time of the accident, it shows the importance of proper safety belts usage when driving. Impaired driving, poor road conditions, speeding, and distracted driving are some primary causes of Montana motor vehicle accidents.
You may not be able to avoid an accident, no matter how safely you drive, but you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your savings by always wearing a safety belt, properly restraining your children (more on this below), and maintaining adequate insurance coverage on your vehicle.
Although Montana doesn’t offer much in the way of green driving incentives to residents, motorists can still save a lot by choosing an eco-friendly vehicle. Federal tax breaks and insurance discounts can add up to a significant savings.
Businesses and individuals may qualify for an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Tax Credit when converting a vehicle to run on an alternative fuel. Some qualifying fuels include propane, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, electricity, hydrogen, and fuels containing 85% or more ethanol, ether, methanol, or another alcohol. The credit covers up to 50% of the labor and equipment costs.
Green drivers in Montana may qualify for a variety of discounts on their auto insurance. Discounts are available for motorists who drive green vehicles, such as electric cars, economy cars, hybrids, and alternative fuel vehicles, and for those who practice green driving habits. These discounts can significantly reduce insurance premiums, but not all carriers offer the same level of savings.
In addition to state incentives and insurance discounts, eco-friendly drivers may qualify for federal tax breaks when they buy a qualifying vehicle, such as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric car, alternative fuel vehicle, or diesel vehicle. If you want this tax credit, make sure your vehicle qualifies before you buy it, and speak with your accountant or tax preparer about credits when tax time rolls around.
All Montana motorists are required to carry liability insurance, no matter how much they drive or how old their car is. Minimum insurance requirements in the state are $25,000 in bodily damage liability to cover injury or death to one person, and $50,000 to cover injury or death to two or more persons. Drivers must also carry $20,000 in property damage liability per accident.
Maximum payment for serious or permanent injury or death to a single person
Coverage for multiple people injured in a single accident
Maximum payment for all damaged property in an accident caused by you
When taking out a new insurance policy, it might seem like a good idea to save money each month by skipping optional coverages that aren’t required by law. However, if you’re in an accident, the minimum amount of coverage you’re required to carry might not be enough to pay for your injuries or damages. Taking out optional coverages will protect your financial well-being.
Also, most lenders require collision and comprehensive insurance to finance a new or used vehicle. Some may require other optional coverages, too. Always check with your lender before agreeing to purchase any vehicle and before taking out an insurance policy.
If you’re worried about the expense of optional coverages, read our article 12 Things You can Do to Lower your Auto Insurance Premium to find ways to offset the cost of the add-ons.
*This list of car insurance carriers is based on the ratings for the Northwest region in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Ratings are derived from five key service areas: claims, price, interaction, policy offerings, and billing. USAA is a military-only option and is therefore not including in the above rankings.
Car seats save lives, and this is why Montana law requires children to be buckled in a car seat designed for their age, height, and weight. A child who isn’t properly secured in a car safety seat is at risk for serious injury or death during a crash or abrupt stop.
Montana law states that any child under the age of 6 years and weighing less than 60 pounds must ride in a child safety restraint system. Children younger than 1 must ride in an approved rear-facing car seat. Between the ages of 1 and 3 years, most children become large enough and heavy enough to move to a forward-facing car seat. Children shouldn’t move up to a new car seat until they outgrow their current seat type.
Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat, it’s time to move up to a booster seat. This usually happens between 4 and 7 years of age. Children riding in a booster seat should always ride in the back seat of the vehicle. Once your child reaches the age of 8 years, he or she may be tall enough to begin using a seat belt properly. However, until the lap belt fits snugly across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt lies across the shoulder and chest (and does not press against the face or neck), your child should continue to use a booster seat.
Leaving your child unattended in a vehicle can have disastrous consequences, even if you’re only gone for a few minutes. Kids left alone in cars are at risk of dehydration, overheating, heat stroke, injury, abduction, and death. Even with a window cracked and on a moderate day, temperatures inside a parked car can reach dangerous levels within minutes.
Although Montana has no laws specific to leaving children unattended inside vehicles, adults who do so can be charged with child neglect if law enforcement believes the child was in any danger at any time. Like in other states around the nation, increased awareness of the dangers of children left alone in motor vehicles has led to a higher number of prosecutions. The increased awareness is also saving lives.
Yes, it is. Insurance carriers use your credit score as a major factor when determining how much you’ll pay for your car insurance. And in some cases, very poor credit scores may even prevent you from obtaining standard insurance. This is because carriers believe low credit scores mean you’re more likely to file a claim against your policy.
Montana motorists may qualify for good-driver discounts, depending on their insurance carrier. Most insurers offer some level of discount for safe driving, with most requiring three years without an accident or moving violation. Ask your auto insurance carrier what discounts you’re eligible for. In addition to a good-driver discount, you may qualify for one of the following money-savers:
Montana held out longer than many states, but law enforcement will now accept proof of coverage on your mobile device. Just make sure your insurance company offers digital insurance cards.
Allowing your insurance to lapse in Montana is serious, and motorists who drive without insurance can be punished with fines, suspension of their driver’s license, and even imprisonment. Plus, having a misdemeanor conviction for lapsed insurance coverage on your driving record can have a major impact on your future insurance rates.
It’s against the law to drive in Montana at the following BAC percentages:
.08%+ at 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.02%+ at under 21 years old
Drivers with blood levels of 5 ng/ml of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol or more are presumed to be too impaired to drive safely. A person can be convicted of DUI with a THC level below 5 ng/ml if there is sufficient evidence of impairment. This applies to all commercial and noncommercial drivers, including those registered as cardholders with Montana’s Marijuana Program.
Montana’s implied consent law means you must submit to a blood, breath, or urine test if suspected of driving while impaired. Failure to do so can result in suspension of your driver’s license for up to 1 year, depending on the number of refusals on your driving record.
Penalties for driving under the influence are severe in Montana, and they increase with each subsequent offense. Drivers convicted of DUI may face jail time, fines, suspension of driving privileges, points on their license, an increase in insurance premiums, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and forced participation in a sobriety program.
You can be convicted of a DUI in Montana even if your BAC is within legal limits, and a DUI goes on your record for life.
Montana law states that insurance companies must offer a premium discount if you’re over 55 years old and have completed a defensive driving course. Most insurance companies also offer discounts to those younger than 55 years old. Check with your carrier to see how much money you can save by voluntarily taking a state-approved driver improvement course.
Annual car insurance premiums are on the rise in most states around the country, and Montana is no exception. While rates vary considerably based on age, gender, vehicle type, location, and other factors out of your control, there are some things you can do to reduce the cost of your auto insurance. Maintaining a healthy credit score and clean driving record, choosing a higher deductible, inquiring about available discounts, and shopping around to compare rates are excellent ways to pay less for your car insurance.
Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in Montana, but your agent is required by law to provide it unless you refuse the coverage in writing. This type of insurance protects you should be involved in an accident with another driver who doesn’t have any or enough auto insurance to cover the damage they cause.
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