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Montana Car Insurance

Montana minimum car insurance requirements are:MCA 61-6-103

  • Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least: 25/50/10 – meaning:
    • Liability coverage
    • $25,000 of bodily injury to another person
    • $50,000 of bodily injuries to all other persons in any one accident
    • $10,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident

Although personal injury protection, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/under-insured coverage is not required by the state of Montana, many drivers choose to purchase them in order to cover any expenses they may accumulate from an accident.

Alternative Options to Insurance:

Certificates of Self-Insurance are available in Montana if the following requirements are met:

MCA 61-6-143

  • You must have at least 26 vehicles registered in your name
  • You must qualify by application through the Department of Justice Motor Vehicles Division

Motor Vehicles Division
Department of Justice
303 North Roberts
P.O. Box 201430
Helena, MT 59620-1430

In Montana, you have the option to use a surety bond as proof of financial responsibility instead of purchasing an insurance policy if the following requirements are met:

MCA 61-6-137

  • Surety bond for at least $60,000 made with a surety company licensed to do business in Montana and filed with the Department of Justice
  • Real estate bond that is approved by a judge of a court of record, filed by the Department of Justice in the office of the clerk of the county where the real estate is located

In Montana, you have the option to use a cash deposit as proof of financial responsibility instead of purchasing an insurance policy if the following requirements are met:

MCA 61-6-138

  • Cash deposit of at least $55,000 with the State Treasurer

Required Proof of Insurance in Montana

Insurance Card provided by Insurance company including all of the following:

  • Name of the insurance company
  • Insurance policy number
  • Effective date and expiration date of the policy
  • Accurate description of year, make, model and vehicle identification number of registered vehicle
  • Name of insured driver

Certificate of Self-Insurance are issued by the state and must include the following:

  • Certificate number issued by the  Department of Justice Motor Vehicles Division
  • Effective date of certificate
  • A statement that all vehicles owned are covered by insurance
  • Name of driver covered by certificate

Certificate of Deposit

  • Certificate number issued by the State Treasurer
  • Effective date of the certificate
  • Name of driver covered by certificate of deposit

Surety Bond

  • Name of company issuing bond
  • Bond number
  • Effective date of the bond
  • Name of driver covered by bond

Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicles Division
303 North Roberts
P.O. Box 201430
Helena, MT 59620-1430

Obtaining a Driver’s License

Here are the requirements to obtain your Traffic Education Learner’s License:

  • Be at least 14 ½ years old
  • Be enrolled in a state-approved traffic education program
  • Pay the license fee

Here are the requirements to obtain your Learner’s License:

  • Be at least 15 years old and complete a state-approved traffic education program OR be at least 16 years old
    • If you are at least 16 years old, you do not have to complete a driver education program before obtaining your learner’s license
  • Pass the vision test
  • Pass the written test
  • Pass the medical requirements to operate a motor vehicle
  • Pay the license fee

Here are the requirements to obtain your First-Year Restricted License:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have your learner’s license for at least 6 months
  • Complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, 10 of which must at night, with a parent, legal guardian, or licensed passenger who is at least 18 years old and has been approved by your parent or guardian
  • No traffic violations involving alcohol or drugs within 6 months of applying for license
  • No suspension, revocation, or denial of your license
  • Pass the vision test
  • Pass the written test
  • Pass the medical requirements to operate a motor vehicle
  • Pass the driving test
  • Pay the license fee

Here are the requirements to obtain your first license for residents over the age of 18:

  • Pass the vision test
  • Pass the written test
  • Pass the medical requirements to operate a motor vehicle
  • Pass the driving test
  • Pay the license fee

The following documents are required for application:

  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Montana Residency
  • Proof of legal presence
  • Social Security Number
  • Consent from a parent or legal guardian if under the age of 18

Completing Traffic Education

Anyone under the age of 16 who is applying for a driver’s license must complete a state-approved traffic education course. According to the Montana Code, MCA 20-7-503, any school district with a junior high or high school may provide a traffic education program. The basic requirements of each course are established by the superintendent of each school district providing a traffic education program. These courses are approved by the state and are available for students who are at least 14 ½ years old.

Traffic education courses are also offered by commercial driving schools. If you decide to take a traffic education course from a commercial school, make sure the instructors are licensed with the state and the course has been approved by the state. Contact the Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicles Division at 406-444-3933 to confirm the license status and approval of a commercial driving school before you enroll.

You want to make sure the program you are planning to enroll in meets the following standards:

  • Instructors are licensed and have certificates from the State of Montana
  • They meet curriculum requirements
  • Check if they have received any disciplinary action for violations
  • Make sure there are enough instructors to meet student needs

Knowing the Rules of the Road

Montana provides their rules of the road in the Montana Driver License Manual. You can also read about all of Montana’s traffic laws in the Montana Code. In order to qualify for the lowest possible car insurance rates, abide by the state’s traffic laws, including:

Residents of Montana typically fall into one of three insurance coverage markets: preferred, standard, and non-standard. The preferred market offers the lowest auto insurance rates in Montana and is available for drivers with clean driving records. The standard market offers affordable auto insurance in Montana and is available to drivers with fair driving records. The non-standard market offers the highest premiums and is available for drivers with less experience and those whose driving records have multiple infractions, including traffic tickets, accidents, and drunken driving offenses.

Know Your Rates

Auto insurance companies consider all of the licensed drivers in the household, even if they are not related to you by blood, such as permanent roommates and spouses when they are calculating your insurance rate. Several factors are used to evaluate drivers and adjust their rates. The factors include the following:

  • Age. Studies have shown that younger drivers, particularly those under the age of 25, are involved in more accidents than older drivers. For this reason, drivers under 25 years old are considered a higher risk, and are required by insurance companies to pay higher insurance rates.
  • Gender. Studies have shown that women are involved in less accidents than men of the same age. Thus, male drivers have to pay higher insurance rates than female drivers.
  • Marital status. Statistics prove that drivers who are single tend to make more insurance claims than married couples, so drivers who are married may have low cost car insurance in Montana.
  • Vehicle use. The amount that you drive can affect how much you pay for insurance. Frequent driving and long commutes increase your chances of having an accident, which raises your insurance rate. Also, parking your vehicle in a secure location, such as a garage, will lessen the risk of theft and damage to your vehicle, which can lower your insurance rate.
  • Vehicle make, model, and year. There are certain vehicles that tend to get stolen more than others. For this reason, it costs more to insure a car or truck that appears on a list of the most stolen vehicles in Montana. Expensive and high-performance vehicles cost more to insure because they are more likely to be stolen as well. High-performance vehicles are also more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • Driving record and claims history. A good driving record can keep your insurance rate low. If your record is clear of multiple accidents, tickets, and insurance claims, you are considered a lower risk to insure and will have a lower rate than drivers who are a higher risk.
  • Geographical area. Areas that have a high frequency of traffic accidents are considered hazardous. In order to compensate for the increased likelihood of having a collision, the drivers who live in these areas have to pay higher insurance rates. Those living in areas with a lot of crime have to pay higher insurance rates due to the increased chances of their vehicles getting stolen or vandalized.
  • Credit history. Insurance companies look at your credit history to determine the likelihood that you will make your payments. If you have a history of not making payments on time or at all, you will most likely have a higher insurance rate. The Insurance Commissioner provides extensive information about insurance companies using your credit history to adjust your rate.

Lower Your Rates

One way to secure a lower insurance rate is to shop around and compare auto insurance rates in Montana. Speak with several insurance agents and brokers and find out what kind of coverage and what prices each one will offer you. Before you decide to work with an insurance company, agent, or broker, make sure they are permitted to do business in Montana and licensed by the Insurance Commissioner. The Commissioner provides an online agent and agency search that you can use to see if the person or company you are planning to work with is licensed. If you are suspicious about a company, agent, or broker, call the Commissioner at 406-444-2040 to verify the license status or to see if any disciplinary actions have been taken against that person or company. In addition, if an agent or company attempts to sell ERISA or union plans, contact the Insurance Commissioner to report the activity.

The Insurance Commissioner provides the 2011 Automobile Insurance Rate Comparison Guide online that you can use to get an idea about what you should be paying for insurance. Also, when shopping around, ask about any discounts that a company may offer, such as discounts for students with good grades, drivers who have completed a defensive driving course, and drivers with good driving records. The Insurance Commissioner provides information about discounts for senior citizens.

Also, be mindful of the possibility that some plans, such as medical insurance, can overlap in coverage areas with your auto insurance plans.

Picking an Insurance Agent or Broker

Insurance companies employ insurance agents to sell policies for commission. Insurance brokers, on the other hand, are hired by individual clients, assessing their clients’ needs and finding different insurance policies from different insurance companies to fit those needs, earning commission for the sales they make from different insurance companies. When working with an agent or a broker, keep in mind that their commission is based on your premium. They make more money when you pay more money.

Whether you use an agent or broker, make sure that they are licensed with the Insurance Commissioner by searching for them online or by calling the Commissioner at 406-444-2040. In addition, the Insurance Division can provide information about how many complaints or disciplinary actions have been filed against a particular company, agent, or broker.

If you have a problem with an insurance company, agent, or broker, you can file a complaint online with the Insurance Commissioner. The Commissioner will investigate the matter and get back to you if any formal disciplinary actions will take place.

After an Accident

According to the Uniform Accident Reporting Act, there are certain requirements that must be met by a driver involved in an accident. If you are involved in a collision with another driver, you have to stop and remain at the scene of the accident. Failing to do so can result in the suspension of your license, fines of up to $50,000, and up to 10 years in prison, depending on the severity of the accident. At the scene, you must first check to see if anyone is injured and, if you are able, render any necessary aid. If there is an injury, death, or damage in excess of $500, you are required to notify the Montana Highway Patrol, local police, or county sheriff. Let law enforcement know if anyone is injured or has been killed so they can make sure emergency medical services are called to the scene. Drivers involved in a collision are required to exchange information, including name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license information, even if someone has no car insurance in Montana. Drivers should stay at the scene of the collision until released by a police officer. Be prepared to give a thorough account of the events leading up to the collision to responding law enforcement members, and also take down information such as the names and contact information of the police officers and witnesses you spoke with for your own accident report. If you are able, you should take pictures of the damage caused to all of the vehicles and property involved in the accident. If law enforcement does not respond to the scene, you must go to a nearby police station or sheriff’s office and file a report.

If you are involved in a collision with an unattended vehicle, you must attempt to locate the owner and provide them with your name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license information. If the owner cannot be located, you are required to leave a written note on or in the vehicle that includes your name, address, and an explanation of what happened.

You are also required to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Follow your company’s procedures for filing a claim or get assistance from a representative from your company. Provide the name, address, and vehicle information of the other driver(s) involved in the collision. You should also be prepared to report the extent of the damage to all vehicles and property resulting from the accident. Provide pictures if you have any. Explain how the accident happened, what occurred during the accident, and the names and contact information of any officers and witnesses at the scene. Any police report filed must also be copied and sent to your insurance company.

Your insurance company will investigate your claim and notify you of their decision within 30 days of receiving all of the information they need. If your claim is delayed, the insurance company must notify you. In the event that your claim is denied, your insurance company will notify you in writing. If there is an unreasonable delay and you have not been notified, contact your insurance company. If the issue is still not resolved, contact the Insurance Commissioner at 406-444-2040.

Your insurance company may seek subrogation if the other party involved was at fault for the accident and you had to use your insurance to cover your expenses. Your insurance company will cover the costs of any medical or repair bills you had, and then reach out to the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. During this process, you should cooperate with your insurance company to ensure that this process goes smoothly. Notify your insurance company if you intend to settle with the at-fault driver or their insurance company.

Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

Drivers in Montana are required to have insurance, but a bad driving record may cause you to be denied coverage from insurance companies, especially if you have a lengthy history of accidents, tickets, or drunken driving offenses. However, the state makes it possible for every driver to have insurance opportunities by offering the Montana Automobile Insurance Plan. This plan specifically covers drivers in Montana who have tried and failed to find insurance coverage due to their driving records. With time, high-risk drivers can mend their records and go back to more affordable auto insurance in Montana.

Additional Help

The Montana Insurance Commissioner offers assistance to all insurance consumers. You can contact the Office of the Commissioner at 406-444-2040. They will answer questions related to insurance, give advice about lowering rates and keeping them low, look into complaints with specific companies, agents, or brokers, educate consumers on insurance law and procedures, and enforce insurance law on the consumer’s behalf if needed.

Online resources include: