Practically every legislative authority in Montana will acknowledge that the State has a problem with alcohol. A recent survey conducted by the National Beer Institute revealed that residents of Montana drink more beer per capita than any other State (43½ gallons per year), and Montanan´s addiction to alcohol is particularly worrisome amongst the young.
High alcohol consumption, together with a Statewide reluctance to wear a seat belt, has lead to a road accident fatality rate more than double the national average – with a high proportion of these involving overturns where no other vehicle was involved. Montana´s “Open Container Law”, which was introduced in October 2005, has done little to influence the number of alcohol-related deaths on the roads – with the number of road fatalities attributable to drunken driving increasing by a sixth since the law´s introduction.
Car insurance rates in Montana reflect this high level of negligence amongst Montana´s drivers, although there is wide disparity between what you may pay for car insurance in urban areas of Montana and rural areas. Road fatalities in metropolitan districts of Montana outweigh those in the countryside by almost forty to one and fewer rural road fatalities are due to drunken driving.
Montana Car Insurance Requirements
Montana is a “tort” State, meaning that a driver is financially responsible for any personal injury or damage they cause while in control of a vehicle. There are a number of ways in which residents of Montana can prove financial responsibility including carrying a bond with a surety company authorized by the State, making a cash deposit with the State Treasury Department of $55,000 or self-insurance. However, most vehicle owners choose car insurance in Montana.
The only compulsory auto insurance requirement in Montana is that you carry liability insurance. Other types of insurance are optional and recommended according to your personal circumstances. The minimum liability limits for auto insurance in Montana is as follows:-
$25,000 for injury/death to one person
$50,000 for injury death to more than one person
$10,000 for damage to property
Montana Auto Insurance Laws
Even though car insurance companies in Montana advise the Insurance Commissioner´s Office that you have Montana auto insurance, it is still necessary to carry proof of insurance in your vehicle in case you are asked to present it to a law enforcement officer. Each time you are stopped and unable to show proof of auto insurance in Montana, five points are added to your driver´s license. If you collect thirty points, your license is revoked.
If you do not have car insurance in Montana you will be fined up to $500.00 and could spend up to ten days in jail (plus a further five points on your license). Subsequent offences attract a fine of no less than $350.00, ten days in jail and your license is automatically suspended for 90 days. At the end of this period, you will be required to file SR-22 insurance for three years.
Recommended Montana Car Insurance Coverage
Minimum liability limits in Montana are relatively low and they would not cover much in the way of medical costs if you were liable for a road traffic accident in which another traveler was catastrophically injured. Therefore, it is recommended that you increase your liability limits to a minimum of $100,000/$200,000 and consider some level of personal injury protection to protect non-family passengers in your car against a collision with a drunk driver.
According to the Insurance Research Council, Montana is in the top half of States for uninsured drivers (estimated at 15 per cent), so it is advisable to include uninsured/underinsured motorist protection with your Montana car insurance policy and, if you have purchased a car on finance, you will be required to have comprehensive car insurance in Montana – although this is also recommended if you live in a area of high vehicle theft (see “Hot Spots” below) or with a high deer population (the Montana Department of Transportation reported there were more than 2,000 road traffic accidents involving deer in 2007).
Cheap Montana Auto Insurance Quotes
As many of the road traffic injuries which occur in Montana are self-inflicted, it is not difficult to get cheap Montana auto insurance quotes – particularly in you live in a rural area with little traffic. However, the majority of the population lives in urbanized districts, and in order to get cheap Montana car insurance quotes in the city, you could take certain measures like installing automatic seats belts, daytime running lights and anti-lock brakes to your car, or combine your Montana auto insurance with a home insurance policy.
Many companies will offer cheap Montana car insurance quotes if you take an approved advanced driving course or drive for a year without getting a ticket or any points on your license. One way of getting cheap Montana car insurance quotes is to remove any young people in your household from your car insurance policy, especially if they are away at school, or ask about a car insurance discount for your young driver if they are achieving good grades – many Montana car insurance companies will agree to discount a responsible student!
Montana Car Insurance Ratings
Indeed, Montana auto insurance companies like to insure vehicle owners who fall into the category of responsible drivers based on historical data, and who represent the least level of risk to them. They calculate who is a “good” client (and who gets the best car insurance deals in Montana) by using a series of ratings based on driving statistics from over the years. For example, young male drivers were responsible for all twenty fatal accidents in the city of Missoula in 2008 – so, if you are a young male driver in Missoula, don´t expect a break on your car insurance rates until you are 35 years of age!
Some of the other factors which affect your Montana car insurance rating include:-
- Your Credit Rating – Historically, people who are responsible with their money are also responsible on the roads. Having a good credit history will entitle you to claim discounted Montana car insurance of up to 55 per cent.
- Your Driving History – Most companies will give a discount of 5 or 10 percent on a auto insurance renewal in Montana if you have gone through the previous year. Ask for more, as some auto insurance companies in Montana will give up to 23 per cent!
- Your Marital Status – Research has shown that couples tend to drive more defensively on the road, and Montana car insurance companies will reward you just for being married – even more so when you start a family.
- Safety Features – As the biggest expense of Montana auto insurance companies is paying personal injury claims, if you have additional safety features in your car (air-bags for example) and are less likely to get injured, you will benefit with cheaper auto insurance rates in Montana.
- Vehicle Usage – The more you drive, the more you pay. But if Montana auto insurance companies are unaware that you only use the car for a little weekend shopping, they will charge you the same as an office worker who drives twenty miles to work each day.
Different auto insurance companies in Montana use different criteria when assessing what contribution each of the following factors make to your Montana car insurance rating, which is why it is always in your best interests to shop around and compare auto insurance rates in Montana before you buy. Make sure that each company you approach is fully aware of your vehicle usage and the safety features installed in your car to get the best Montana car insurance quotes.
Montana “Hot Spots” for Vehicle Theft
One of the most important elements of your Montana car insurance rating is where you live. The disparity between accidents which occur in urbanized districts and those that happen in rural surroundings in Montana is absolutely astonishing, but if you live in an area of high vehicle theft, you could be penalized even more by auto insurance companies in Montana.
Each year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) produces a list of the 360 metropolitan districts nationwide which suffer from the highest rate of car theft per capita. Fortunately, there were only three districts within Montana which had a sufficiently high rate of vehicle theft to qualify for the “Hot Spots” list, but you will find that comprehensive car insurance in these three areas of Montana costs more than anywhere else in the State.
The “Montana Three” (with their national positions in brackets) were:-
- Billings (119)
- Great Falls (215)
- Missoula (295)
Most Frequently Stolen Cars in Montana
The NICB also produces a State-by-State list of the most frequently stolen vehicles. Some cars are just “thief magnets”, and if your car appears on this list, you should install anti-theft devices and then advise your Montana car insurance company that you have done so.
The “Hot Wheels” for Montana in 2010 were:-
- Dodge Ram
- Chevrolet Full Size Pick-Up
- Ford Explorer
- Subaru Legacy
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Ford F150 Pick-Up
- Ford Ranger
- Chevrolet S-10 Pick-Up
Typical Montana Auto Insurance Rates
Car insurance rates in Montana vary so much depending on whether you live in an urbanized district or a rural area that there is no “typical” Montana auto insurance rate, Instead, we have produced a list of selected cities in Montana and the average auto insurance paid in each. These are intended purely as a guide, but if you see your home town on the list, and are paying more than is quoted, it is about time you shopped around for a better deal on your car insurance in Montana.
Car insurance in Bozeman – $1,371
Car insurance in Missoula – $1,407
Car insurance in Helena – $1,444
Car insurance in Great Falls – $1,621
Car Insurance in Billings – $1,648
Car insurance in Kalispell – $1,747
Montana Car Insurance Companies
Despite the high incidence of drinking and driving, there are still plenty of car insurance companies in Montana willing to take the risk and provide financial responsibility in the form of Montana auto insurance. This creates a competitive market and one which you can take advantage of by shopping around and comparing Montana car insurance quotes. The list below is a fairly comprehensive selection on Montana auto insurance companies and those which are underlined have been reviewed so you are able to gauge if they are the right company for you.
|Allied Property & Casualty||Emcasco||National Farmers Union|
|Allstate||Employers Mutual||National General|
|Alpha Property & Casualty||Encompass||National Interstate|
|AMCO||Farmers||National Union Fire|
|American Bankers||Farmers Alliance Mutual||Nationwide|
|American Family Home||Federal||Pacific Indemnity|
|American Home Assurance||Fidelity National||Phoenix|
|American International||Financial Indemnity||Progressive|
|American Modern||First Liberty||Safeco|
|American National||First National||Sagamore|
|American Reliable||Foremost||Security National|
|AMICA Mutual||Great American||Standard Fire|
|Austin Mutual||Great Northwest||State Farm|
|Commerce & Industry||Liberty Mutual||Travelers|
Don´t forget to ask the car insurance company for any discounted Montana auto insurance you may be entitled to receive and, if you do not use your car frequently, ask about “pay-as-you-drive” car insurance which is now available in Montana. Vehicle owners can save up to 50 per cent on their car insurance in Montana if they switch to pay-as-you-drive, but make sure it is the best Montana car insurance for you before signing up for it!