Montana Car Insurance Laws

Montana state flagMontanans who drive motor vehicles in the state have for decades been required to either buy an automobile policy or deposit money with the state for self-insurance purposes in order to be in compliance with the state's financial responsibility law.

Minimum Levels of Protection

If a vehicle owner chooses to satisfy the financial responsibility law through purchase of a Montana auto insurance policy, it must provide a minimum level of protection, which has been set by the state legislature.

Currently, all policies issued in the state must provide automobile coverage for at least up to the following amounts:
  • $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 in total bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 in property damage liability per accident
If the motorist decides to self-insure, he or she must deposit $55,000 with the state.

Penalties for Driving Uninsured

The state has established a set of penalties for motorists who get behind the wheel without first satisfying their legal obligation to get coverage. The following bullet points outline the penalties for each offense:

First offense:
  • Fine of between $250 and $500
Second offense:
  • Fine of $350
  • Suspension of registration and license plates
  • 90-day restricted registration if reinstated
Third offense:
  • Fine of $500
  • 180-day restricted registration if reinstated
Fourth and subsequent offenses:
  • Fine of $500
  • 180-day restricted registration if reinstated
  • License suspension  

For all registration and license suspensions, the offender must show proof of insurance before reinstatement. Restricted registrations limit the use of the vehicle to employment purposes only.

Online Verification System

The state government passed a law in 2009 that would set up an online coverage verification system to help identify uninsured drivers. The system was slated to be operational by July 2011, but delays pushed back the launch date.

Once it is up and running, the system will receive and file auto insurance policy information from insurers in the state and match up that information with residents. The database will be accessible to regulatory officials, the courts, county treasurers, authorized agents and police officers. If a police officer stops a citizen for a traffic violation, the law enforcement officer can verify coverage through the database to determine whether it is valid. The information in the database will take precedent over the driver's proof of insurance card.

Notice of Cancellation

If insurers in Montana plan to cancel or terminate a financial protection plan mid-term, they are required by law to file a notice of cancellation with the state regulatory department at least 10 days before the protection plan is terminated.