Ranked in the top 10 for the most expensive car insurance in the last 10 years, in 2015 climbed to its highest position yet at number 2; expect to pay close to $2000 annually for insurance in the state. This is from a number of reasons as explored below.
Montana is an at fault state, which means drivers have the option to negotiate directly with insurance companies or to file a civil lawsuit. However, the state’s courts have gotten a reputation for being liberal in their application of awards for drivers which has increased the award sizes and the number of lawsuits. This helps increase the overall price of insurance in Montana.
The three options for recovering damages you received from an accident in Montana that was not your fault include recovering damages from your own policy, usually used when you are more than 50% at fault. You can also negotiate an out of court settlement directly with the person most at fault’s insurance company. However these negotiations can get complicated if you are also suspected to have a portion of fault. Lastly you can opt to launch a civil lawsuit to recover damages within the state.
As the state is ranked 15th most in uninsured drivers, this plays a large role in insurance rates and the number of lawsuits that can be a double whammy in driving rates higher.
Driving Rates Higher
Although the state does require insurance, its litigiousness is driven by the liberal courts and high uninsured driver rate as mention above. However, those are not the only aspects that seem to be driving insurance rates higher in Montana, making it the second most expensive state to be insured in the US.
Its remote-ness is also a factor coupled with its low population. This has caused a lower number of insurers to operate in the state as it is not attractive to large chains because of the higher operating costs within the state. Since the legislative assembly of the state has failed to pass driver safety laws for driving while texting and a primary seat belt law. Meaning as a secondary seat belt state, officers cannot pull over a driver simply for not wearing a seat belt. These safety issues may also contribute to the state having the highest highway fatality incidence rate in the US as well, more than double the national average.
All these issues seem to be driving the costs of Big Sky state, well, into the sky.
Although it is one of the highest uninsured states in the US, it does have a requirement for financial responsibility for driving a vehicle. The easiest way to satisfy this is to meet the minimum requirements with an insurance policy within the state. These policies included $25,000, $50,000 and $10,000 minimum coverages for single person injury accidents, multiple person injury accidents and for property damage respectively.
Optional insurances include collision, comprehensive, medical payments, uninsured, and underinsured coverages within the state. Although UI and UIM require you to decline in person and comprehensive and collision are often a requirement for a lease or finance agreement.
Another option to meet the financial requirements include paying a surety bond or self-insuring, both of which vary upon your circumstances. Contact the Montana Department of Motor Vehicles to select either option.
Proof of Insurance
Within the state, there are penalties if you are caught by an enforcement officer without proof of insurance. Penalties include jail time license revocation or suspension, fines, and demerit points on your driving record. Being charged with failure to have insurance will make getting insurance harder and more expensive as well.