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Auto insurance should be a significant part of your financial planning considerations. All states require automobile insurance as part of the process for obtaining a drivers license. This is done to provide protection for the public in the event of an accident.

In Montana, the required minimum limits of liability for insurance are:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of one person
  • $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people
  • $10,000 for property damage
  • Medical payments must be offered to persons purchasing automobile insurance unless specifically declined in writing

Individuals may provide self-insurance or surety bonds in lieu of insurance. The difficulty with this is that; whereas this satisfies the legal requirements, your home, wages, and other assets may be confiscated to pay for valid claims against you.

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Recommended Limits of Liability

The limits of liability required by the state may not be sufficient to cover the expenses involved in an accident.

Costs of an accident include legal defense, medical treatment, rehabilitation costs – if any, and possible wrongful death charges. By not carrying adequate limits of liability, an individual puts their own assets at risk. The following limits of liability are recommended:

  • $100,000 for injury or death of one person
  • $300,000 for injury or death of two or more people
  • $50,000 for property damage – basic costs for totaling another individual's auto may cost up to and over $50,000.
  • $5,000 medical payments for individuals in your own vehicle. Even though you may have health insurance, necessary costs for emergency care and transport may be necessary.
  • $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident Uninsured Motorists Coverage (this pays for injury caused as a result of an accident with someone without insurance.)

Penalties for Driving while Uninsured in Montana

  • First offense - $250 fine or up to ten days in jail
  • Second offense - $350 fine or up to ten days in jail – surrender of vehicle registration and license plates for up to 90 days
  • Third offense - $500 fine or up to six months in jail – surrender of license plates and registration for 180 days
  • Fourth offense – suspension of drivers license until proof of insurance is provided

Insurance for Your Own Vehicle

Liability insurance does not pay for damage to your own vehicle, so you should purchase insurance to repair or pay for your car. Most people have loans that will need to be paid should their car be totaled.

Some insurance companies will offer additional insurance to pay off the loan should it be more than the cost of the vehicle determined at the time of the accident. Purchase the following insurance to cover your own vehicle:

  • Collision coverage – pays if you collide with another object
  • Comprehensive coverage – purchased to pay for the following causes for loss- fire, vandalism, water, hail, glass damage, and theft.

To reduce premiums, a deductible of anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per occurrence may be applied. You choose the deductible based upon the needs of the lien-holder and your ability to absorb the costs.

You should be cautioned to recognize that the deductible will apply to each occurrence, so, if your windshield is damaged and needs replacement twice during a month, you will pay $500 each time.

Getting a Quote for Automobile Insurance

Saving money on a car insurance policy involves shopping and getting quotations from at least three different insurance companies. To begin with, look at the State of Montana's comparison charts for automobile insurance, choose an area that somewhat agrees with your own circumstances and look at the least expensive premiums available.

Use this resource as a guide to choosing insurance companies. Recognize that these comparison charts are just guides for estimating auto insurance premiums.

Look at Financial Ratings and Complaints about Insurance Companies

There are a number of resources for finding out about insurance companies, their financial ratings, and complaints.

Organize Information for a Quote

Collect the information you will need for a quotation:

  • Name, address, and drivers license numbers for all licensed drivers in the home
  • Driving record – accidents, tickets, and citations
  • What each person drive, distance of driving, and purpose
  • Make, model, VIN number for all owned vehicles
  • Bodily Injury Liability Limits - $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident
  • Property Damage Liability Limits - $50,000 per accident
  • Medical Payments Coverage - $5,000 per accident
  • $500 deductible Comprehensive Coverage
  • $500 deductible Collision Coverage
  • $100,000 per person/ $300,000 per accident Uninsured Motorists Coverage

When applying for a quotation, make certain that your requests are the same from each company so you can do a straight-across comparison.

Ways to Save Money on Car Insurance

The following things can save money on your car insurance, so make certain that the insurance companies are aware of these factors:

  • Vehicle is used for pleasure-driving only
  • You're in a car pool and only drive a limited number of days
  • Full time student and your GPA is a B or above
  • Successfully completed a driver education course
  • If you are 55 or above, credit is given for approved driving refresher courses
  • Anti-theft devices, automatic seatbelts, and air bags on your car
  • No accidents or violations for any drivers – good driving records earn discounts
  • Good credit rating
  • Comparison shop for insurance
  • Review your policy at least annually and update your quotations. Things change.
  • See if you get a discount for having your homeowners and auto insurance with the same company
  • Multi-car discounts
  • Keep the information on your policy updated with current information on autos, drivers, or if you change distances driven

Think about Car Insurance

Most individuals search for an insurance quote once. The occasion is when they purchase a new car or when their circumstances change a great deal. It is an excellent idea to take the time to search for comparison quotes at least once a year in the month of your policy anniversary.

Obtaining quotes can save you a substantial amount of money, depending upon the experience of the particular insurance company in the area.

For example, a major hailstorm can cause some insurance companies rates to rise a great deal. Spend the time needed to be certain that you are getting both the best price and the best insurance company available.

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