Purchasing car insurance can be a daunting task in Montana. Insurance companies offer options ranging from varying coverage amounts to electing road-side assistance. Trying to figure out which possibilities are best for your situation can be overwhelming. Car insurance is a requirement, but nobody wants to pay too much for options they don’t need. We’re here to help with The Advocates’ guide to purchasing auto insurance in Montana!
There are three main areas of consideration when setting up your car insurance. We will break down the myriad of policy options, but in the end it comes down to Montana law, lender requirements, and asset protection. We will discuss each of them in detail below.
Montana Car Insurance Requirements
The law in Montana requires all licensed vehicles to carry liability insurance. Liability insurance covers damage caused to the other driver in a car accident where you are found at fault. It covers both bodily and property damage in the amounts listed in the policy. Liability insurance is designed to cover those costs minus the deductible you will select when setting up your insurance.
Unfortunately, liability alone will not cover property or bodily damage for you and your car. Collision and comprehensive coverage is the best way to protect you and your property. Damages to the other driver in excess of the coverage amount are, also, not covered by liability. There is the possibility, however, that you could still be responsible for excess damages above and beyond the stated policy amount.
Montana has a set minimum amount of liability car insurance required for all licensed vehicles. The required liability amounts are $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $20,000 for property damage. Penalties for not having insurance are up to a $500 fine and 10 days in jail even for a first offense.
Insurance Lender Requirements
If you are in the envious status of owning a car that is free of a lease or financing, then you may elect to carry only the minimum liability coverage as ordained by the state. However, the rest of us will need to meet the requirements contained in our lease or financing agreements. Lenders have a vested interest in preserving the value of the car should an accident occur.
Comprehensive coverage typically covers damage from fire, theft, explosion, glass breakage, animal collision, and other losses not covered by collision coverage. Collision is usually defined as colliding with another object or the vehicle overturning. Typically the requirements of your financing or lease will have a very specific dollar amount for both minimum comprehensive and collision coverage as well as a maximum allowable deductible.
An important aspect of determining how much insurance you need is your assets. Comprehensive and collision insurance will protect your investment in the car itself. The amount of liability insurance protects your other assets from being attached should an accident claim be filed against you. Opting for a higher dollar amount for liability can help to insulate important assets like a house, boat, or business income from being included in paying out for a claim. You should carefully weigh the cost of additional liability coverage versus the risk of possible claims that may arrive at a number you are comfortable with. Remember paying for insurance helps you buy peace of mind.
Online vs. a Live Insurance Agent
Many companies offer instant quotes and the ability to completely set up and pay for your car insurance online on the spot. The ability to take care of your insurance needs anywhere and at anytime, even with just your phone, is a big convenience and is growing in popularity year after year. However, there are a few considerations when deciding which route is best for you.
If you choose to go it alone online, then you will be responsible for ensuring all the options are fully correct and meet your needs. While the online services do a stellar job of providing knowledge bases and a multitude of options, to varying degrees they presume you are familiar with the basics of car insurance and comfortable with their terms and industry lingo. Furthermore, should an accident occur and a claim needs to be filed, you will likely be the one doing the filing. If any of this gives you reason to pause, then perhaps option number 2 is more to your liking.
A local insurance agent will be there to help you sort out the options in setting up your insurance. Having a familiar voice should any problems or questions arise is comforting as opposed to listening to hold music while you wait for a call center agent. Local agents also have options to bundle home or other auto insurance together, or offer discounts that might be more difficult to find or set up via the online portal.
Give some thought to how comfortable you would be with handling your own paperwork for claims should an incident come up. A local agent will typically be happy to handle filing any needed paperwork for you. Be warned, though, you can’t rely on that type of service from an online company.
A Word on Insurance for Old Cars
In certain cases with older cars it may cost more to repair the car than the value of the car itself. Compare the blue book value of the car versus a major repair. If the base value of the car is close to or less than a major repair consider the following cost-cutting measures. You can save money by raising your deductible, dropping collision insurance, dropping comprehensive coverage, or dropping both. You heard it here first, folks.
Extra Insurance Bells and Whistles
These items include stuff like road-side assistance and rental car coverage should your car be out of commission. There is no denying these types of options are a great help should the need ever arise. Although, if you are looking to cut costs you may want to start here. Knowing you have someone to come out and change your flat tire is a great comfort, but it will certainly cost you. Prices and services vary considerably from company to company for these add-ons. If this is something you consider key then, please, explore that aspect fully before purchasing your insurance.
Shop Around for Montana Insurance
Remember that signing an insurance policy is a long-term commitment. You will likely be in cahoots with whatever insurance company you pick for the long haul, so to speak. So it is worthwhile to take the time and do your due diligence in comparing companies. Price is a factor, but don’t neglect the details on the services they offer. Factoring in how you actually use the car and who will be driving it will help you make the best choice.
Free Consultations with The Advocates
The Advocates are a leading personal injury firm in the state of Montana. We have provided superior legal representation to injury victims throughout the western United States since 1992. If you or a loved one has been injured and is in need of assistance from an attorney to help recover losses from an accident, you will need an Advocate to fight for your rights. An attorney with The Advocates is ready to discuss your case. Simply call (406) 272-6986, chat with a live attorney from our homepage, or fill out the form below. Discover what our clients already know; it pays to have the Advocate advantage! Contact our office today. You deserve an Advocate!
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