When you want to drive in Montana, you must have auto insurance that meets the minimum requirements of Montana insurance laws. If you’re moving to Big Sky Country or you’re a new driver, then here’s all you about Montana insurance laws to ensure that you’ll be driving legally.
Montana Insurance Laws and Requirements
In Montana, you must carry car insurance to drive in the state. You’ll also need to provide proof of auto insurance to Montana law enforcement when asked. Montana uses an online motor vehicle liability insurance verification system to verify that motor vehicles, vehicle owners, or vehicle operators are in compliance with Montana’s liability policy requirements. This system is maintained and updated regularly to ensure that it contains the most up-to-date information.
Members of Montana’s law enforcement can use the motor vehicle liability insurance verification system, and those who can access this system can include a peace officer or an authorized law enforcement agency employee. Law enforcement is authorized to use this system during an accident investigation or a routine traffic stop to verify if a motor vehicle has a valid motor vehicle liability policy that meets the minimum requirements.
When it comes to legal requirements for car insurance in Montana, liability is all you need. Liability insurance is coverage that pays for others’ injuries, property damage, or both when you cause an accident. Liability also covers any injured party’s lost wages and pain and suffering. However, this coverage doesn’t cover any damages to your property or any injuries you sustain during an accident.
The car insurance limits in Montana represent the maximum amount that your insurer will pay out for a claim. All states are responsible for setting the minimum limits drivers must carry to drive. Unfortunately, these limits often fall short of what your liability insurance coverage should be, and it’s a good idea to increase your limits when possible.
In Montana, liability limits are expressed as 25/50/20. If you’re unfamiliar with what these numbers mean for insurance coverage, they represent the following liability coverages:
- $25,000 to cover bodily injury per person in the event of an accident
- $50,000 to cover bodily injury per accident
- $20,000 to cover property damage per accident
These amounts of liability coverages are on par with most other states, but are they enough? Even though these are Montana’s required limits, they may fall short if you were to cause a substantial accident with moderate injuries and property damage. Injuries add up quickly, and $20,000 in property damage coverage won’t come close to replacing a new vehicle. Therefore, increasing your liability limits to levels you can afford is highly recommended.
You’ll want to consider that Montana insurance laws don’t even require you to have coverage for your vehicle. However, if you want protection for your vehicles, you must add additional coverage to protect your investment. This additional coverage may be required if your car is under lease or has a lien holder.
Penalties for Driving in Montana Without Proof of Insurance
Proof of car insurance is a requirement to drive in Montana, and driving without insurance is illegal. Proof of car insurance must show that you have motor vehicle liability that meets the state’s requirements. It can be in the form of an insurance card issued by the insurance carrier. This card must be approved by the Montana Department of Motor Vehicles. An electronic device, including a phone or tablet, with an electronic document from the insurance carrier with the proof of insurance information, is also accepted.
You will be guilty of a misdemeanor if you’re caught driving without insurance in Montana. In addition, when drivers don’t have auto insurance coverage that meets or exceeds Montana insurance laws, they can incur penalties. These penalties vary depending on the offense and are punishable through fines, jail time, or both. The penalties you can expect to face in Montana for driving without insurance or without proof of insurance include:
- First offense:
- Pay a fine between $250 and $500
- Spend up to 10 days in the county jail
- Second offense:
- Pay a minimum fine of $350
- Spend up to 10 days in the county jail
- Get your driver’s license suspended for 90 days
- Have five points added to your driving record
- Third offense:
- Pay a fine of $500
- Spend up to six months in prison
Montana Optional Auto Insurance Coverage
Protecting yourself from risk is a good reason to have optional coverages above and beyond Montana car insurance minimums. The following optional coverages available in Montana can help reduce your risk:
- Comprehensive: Covers any physical damage to your vehicle from non-collision events, such as weather-related damages, theft, and even hitting an animal
- Collision: Covers any physical damage to your car when colliding with a fixed object or another vehicle
- Medical payments: Covers any injuries you and your passengers sustain during an accident in your vehicle, regardless of if you caused the accident or not
- Rental car reimbursement: Reimburses you for rental car costs when your vehicle is not safe to drive due to a covered loss
- Roadside assistance: Covers things such as dead batteries, towing, and flat tires to get you back on the road
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist: Covers your expenses if you are in an accident with a driver with insufficient insurance coverage
Maintaining Montana’s Auto Insurance Requirements
You’re abiding by the law when you maintain your auto insurance in compliance with Montana’s auto insurance laws and requirements. Even if Montana’s minimum liability limits are lower than you may need, they’re in place to help protect yourself and other drivers. Depending on your preferences and what you can ultimately afford, increasing your liability coverage is almost always a good idea. It’s also a good idea to add additional coverages to limit risk and protect your assets.
If you live in Montana, you now understand state minimum car insurance requirements better. Whether you carry the minimum liability limits in Montana or increase your coverage, car insurance savings are waiting for you to find them.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.