Every Montana driver is required to carry liability insurance on their vehicle. That’s the law. But there are other laws that govern what the insurance company must cover—and how you, as the customer, must be treated. Our office upholds the laws that govern auto insurance companies. We also serve as the experts on your side, and we are here to help if you have questions or concerns about your auto insurance or any claims you may have filed with your insurer.

Call us at 800.332.6148  |  406.444.2040 for more information, or issues.

Approved defensive driver course
  • CLICK HERE to view a list of defensive driver courses approved by the Montana Department of Transportation that qualify you for the 55+ auto insurance discount.

Determining your premium depends on many factors, including where you live, the kind of car you drive, how much you drive, how much coverage you want, your driving record, age, marital status, and gender.

The premium you pay is a direct reflection of your driving record for the past three years for personal auto, or five years for commercial auto. Insurance companies order driving records from the Montana DMV and from other states where you’ve been licensed. Statistics show that drivers with tickets and accidents are more likely to have accidents than drivers with clean records.

Many companies won’t insure you if you live with a relative who has a poor driving record. If your teenager has a poor driving record, you may have trouble getting a preferred rate because he or she is defined as an “insured” under your policy.

Some companies will exclude this person by name from the insurance policy. Many companies won’t insure anyone in the family unless every driver in the household meets their requirements.

Insurance companies evaluate the risks associated with each policyholder to determine if you are a “good risk” or if your policy should not be renewed. Some of the factors insurance companies review include:
  • Claims. Do you file claims frequently or for large amounts?
  • Driving record. Do you have a bad driving record (speeding, DUI, etc.)? Or have you been in several “at-fault” accidents that resulted in claims being filed against you?
  • Credit history. Do you have bad credit? Have you filed for bankruptcy? Insurers may use certain aspects of your credit score to create an insurance credit score to determine what kind of risk you are.

Most auto insurance policies pay the actual cash value (ACV) of a vehicle totaled in an accident. The ACV is equal to the market value of an auto immediately before the accident.

Insurers typically determine the actual cash value of your vehicle by doing a market survey of similar vehicles in your area. They must research the cost of vehicles that are the same make and model as yours, with similar mileage, interiors, upgrades, etc. If there are no comparable vehicles in your local market, they can expand their survey area.

They must also provide you with copies of the information they are using to establish the ACV of your vehicle.

Tell the insurance company why you believe your car is worth more than the insurer is offering by doing your own research and provide your adjuster with copies of the documentation that supports this. Look in the classified ads or online to locate a vehicle similar to your damaged one in your local market. It may come down to negotiations between you and the insurance company. But remember, an insurance company won’t compensate you for your car’s sentimental value. The only book value that an insurer can use to value your vehicle is the NADA value. They don’t have to recognize any other book values such as the Kelly Blue Book. They don’t have to utilize the NADA value unless both the insured and the company agree to do so.

Your company must send you notice at least 10 days in advance of canceling your policy for nonpayment of premiums, or 45 days if your company cancels or non-renews your policy for any other reason.

If you have an address change, it’s your responsibility to tell your insurance company. They are only required to send notice to the last address they have on record.

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 overturning.

Most auto policies have lower deductibles for comprehensive coverage than for collision coverage.

  • $25,000 per person bodily injury
  • $50,000 per accident bodily injury
  • $20,000 property damage
Unless you sign a form stating you do not want Uninsured Motorist coverage, your agent is required by law to provide it to you.
There is no way for the company to know if your teenager is going to drive your vehicle or not. If a teenager is a licensed member of your household, the company is entitled to rate him or her.
No. The CSI does not have the legal authority to determine the value of a vehicle.
Insurance after the fact is when an uninsured person has a loss (auto accident, theft, fire, etc.) and then purchases insurance to cover that loss. This action is insurance fraud, and it is illegal in the state of Montana.

Comparative negligence laws dictate how the responsibility for an accident will be shared between the parties directly involved in an accident where bodily injury or property damage was suffered. When both parties contributed to the accident, comparative negligence determines who will receive compensation for losses and how much will be received. Suppose Jane is speeding down the street and Dick makes a left-hand turn in front of Jane, striking her car. Both drivers contributed to this accident and the insurance company, applying comparative negligence laws, will make the determination of liability for damages.

Montana has adopted the 51% of modified comparative negligence (Mont. Code Ann. 27-1-702 ) as the standard for recovery of damages. Under modified comparative negligence, an injured party may recover damages only if he/she is less than 50% at fault for the injury or damages. However, the recovered amount may be reduced in proportion to the degree that the injured party was at fault. For example, if the other driver is determined to be 80% at fault and you are determined to be 20% at fault, you can collect for your damages because you were less than 50% at fault. However, the other driver’s insurance company might only offer to pay for 80% of your damages.

How Is Comparative Negligence Resolved?

The insurance company will make the injured party an offer based on what it believes to be the amount of negligence of its insured. The insurance company may interview the involved parties, including witnesses, and it may also review the accident report to determine the amount of the offer. An insurance company may believe that its insured was not more than 50% or more at fault for an accident and may not offer to pay any damages for the loss. The injured party may negotiate with the insurance company until a settlement is reached or until the two parties reach an impasse. If a settlement cannot be reached, the courts make the final determination of comparative negligence.

What Should I Do If I Do Not Agree with the Insurance Company?

You may file a complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI). The CSI will contact the insurance company involved and ask for a review of the determination. However, the CSI cannot make a determination of comparative negligence. The comparative negligence law is a civil law and is enforceable through the courts.