Every Montana driver is required to carry liability insurance on their vehicle, no matter how old it is. 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 make sure the policies sold in Montana comply with those laws and that prices are not unreasonably high. We also serve as the experts on your side and are here to help if your auto insurance company doesn’t pay — or doesn’t pay as much as you think it should.

Every year, our experts answer tens of thousands of phone calls from Montanans who are having trouble with their insurance company and help recover millions of dollars for Montanans whose insurance company either rejected their claims or didn’t pay the full amount.

We also write impartial auto insurance buying guides. What you will pay for auto insurance is based on several factors, including your age, your driving record, and the make and model of your vehicle. We survey companies selling auto insurance in Montana to build a real-world guide for what Montanans can expect to pay for auto insurance. We’re not trying to promote any insurance provider over another; we just believe Montanans deserve trustworthy insurance information.

Approved defensive driver courses
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. AARP Smart Driver Course Certification 

Insurance Problems?
Call us at 1-800-332-6148

Do You Know What to Do After an Accident?

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has developed an app that guides you through the steps to take after a collision. WRECKCHECK helps you know what information to share, with whom and what details are important when filing an insurance claim. Available for free for iPhone and Android.

The Top 12

We answer thousands of questions from Montanans like you every year. Here are the most common questions we hear:

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, and your age.

If an error is made in reporting any of these factors, your rates won’t be quoted correctly. Auto insurance misquotes can happen when your application information differs from your actual driving record.

Companies ask the state’s motor vehicle division to verify the records of the drivers they insure. If you told your insurance agent you have a perfect driving record, and you don’t, your insurance company will charge higher premiums than your agent quotes.

To avoid misquotes, provide accurate information about your driving record and any other factors that could affect the cost of insurance, such as the make of your car or how far you commute to work. Verify all information before signing the application.

The premium you pay is a direct reflection of your driving record for the past three years. 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 be 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.

The Montana Insurance Commissioner has no authority to determine the value of a vehicle or to decide who is at fault for causing an accident.

Sometimes the value of a car is less than the balance on your car loan. There can be several reasons for this. Interest rate changes may have increased the amount of your loan. Rebates may not have applied to the purchase price, or poor maintenance of the auto may have reduced its value. The insurance company bases its payments on the actual cash value (ACV) of the car, not the amount of your loan.
Your company must send you notice at least 10 days in advance of canceling your policy for nonpayment of premiums.
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.  Also, keep track of your payments.
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. If you have an older car, it may cost more to repair than it’s worth. In that case, consider the following to save money:

  • Raise your deductibles.
  • Drop your collision or comprehensive coverage.
  • Drop both your collision and comprehensive 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 vehicles or not. If a teenager is a licensed member of your household, the company is entitled to rate for him or her.
No. Neither the Insurance Commissioner nor the commissioner’s employees have the legal authority to determine the value of a vehicle. Determining the cost of a vehicle — or other insured property — is part of a process called “adjusting claims.” In Montana, you must be licensed in the state of Montana to adjust claims. Adjusters determine the value of vehicle. The Insurance Commissioner’s employees are experts on insurance and they can assist if you have problems with your policy, but they are not licensed adjusters.

Need more help?
Insurance problems? Call us at 1-800-332-6148.