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Montana Auto Insurance [Rates + Cheap Coverage Guide]

Montana Auto Insurance Overview
Montana Statistics SummaryDetails
Road Miles 74,983
Vehicle Miles Driven Annually12,157 million
Driving Deaths (2017)Speeding – 59
Drunk Driving – 56
Vehicles (2017)Registered: 1,401,936
Total Stolen: 2,043
Most Popular VehicleFord F150
Average Premiums (Annual)Liability – $386.29
Collision – $265.32
Comprehensive – $211.91
Combined Premiums – $863.52
Percent of Motorists Uninsured9.9%
State Rank: 33rd
Cheapest ProviderUSAA

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The beauty of Montana is unparalleled and each different geographical feature offers its own charm.

From the Missouri River Breaks, with its big game animals and rugged landscape, to the continental divide and the many mountain passes, to the enchanted grandeur of Glacier National Park all the way down to the edge of Yellowstone National Park.

Whether you’re soaking in the hot springs, skiing the cold smoke, hiking the national forest, or hunting big game, you’re going to need to drive to get where you’re going.

Public transportation, while available to some degree in the more populated cities, hasn’t eclipsed the need for most people to drive. And if you drive, you need insurance!

Finding the best auto insurance company and coverage level for your situation can seem overwhelming. We’ll break down all the most important things to know when making your decision and you’ll be happy to know it won’t be as arduous as you expect!

We’ll even give you access to our quote comparison tool! It’s free; just enter your ZIP code to get started.

We’ll show you the laws in Montana, what’s available for optional insurance coverage, and give you a look at how some of the top auto insurers compare to each other. And to wrap it up, we’ll show you what laws you need to pay attention to and give you a few Montana traffic stats.

Table of Contents

Montana Auto Insurance Coverage and Rates

Why do you need Auto insurance? Well, first of all, it’s required by law! And second, it’s to protect you financially. New Hampshire is the only state where it’s not required and yet over 90 percent of the population there choose to carry it. Which, by the way, is a higher percentage than in Montana.

Instead of complaining about the requirement, start imagining how insurance can help you. If you cause an accident and it does $20,000 worth of damage to another’s property, insurance will have you covered!

You will not have to come up with that settlement out of pocket. Insurance is a good thing.

Minimum Coverage Requirement

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The minimum coverage for auto insurance in Montana you must carry is 25/50/20.

  • $25,000 — Bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 — Bodily injury liability per accident
  • $20,000 — Property Damage liability

These figures give you a starting point. Considering that a new pickup truck can cost of $60,000, you’d be in a tough spot if you caused a total loss to a new truck and you only had $20,000 property damage liability.

Increasing your levels of liability coverage doesn’t usually cost that much and if you have assets to protect, the increased cost is very worth it. Even still, minimum coverage can be pretty expensive in different parts of the country.

You must be offered uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with a minimum 25/50 limit but you can reject it. Nearly 10 percent of Montana drivers do not have auto insurance. If they cause an accident where you’re hurt and your vehicle is damaged, you may be out of luck getting compensated.

If you have uninsured motorist personal injury and property damage coverage, you’ll be compensated by your own insurer.

Most people choose insurance to cover the requirements of the law, but here are all the options acceptable for proof of financial responsibility while driving:

  • Certificate of insurance
  • Bond
  • Certificate or deposit of money or securities
  • Certificate of self-insurance

Besides a standard auto insurance policy, self-insurance is the only other type of insurance commonly encountered.

Premiums as a Percentage of Income

The average Montanan makes $3,003 a month after taxes. Auto insurance costs an average of $72 per month for full coverage, making the percentage of income going to Auto insurance 2.41 percent.

Obviously, what you pay for insurance in relation to how much you earn is going to vary.

Some parts of the state have a fairly low cost of living, and a person could live well on $3,000 a month. However, if you live in Missoula or Bozeman, you already know you’ll need a lot more income to make ends meet.

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates in MT (Liability, Collision, Comprehensive)

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Montana comes in about $150 lower than the countrywide average for full coverage annually.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rate by Coverage Type in Montana (2015)
Coverage TypeMontana Annual AverageNational Annual Average

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Comprehensive and collision coverages are often combined with liability coverage and referred to as “full coverage.” These first party benefits will pay for your own damages when you cause an accident or when you hit a deer or other wildlife, which let’s face it, is common in Montana.

The likelihood of hitting a deer in Montana is one in 57. Think about yourself and your 56 closest friends. One of you will hit a deer this year with your vehicle (statistically speaking).

Chances of hitting a big game animal are greatest in October, November, and December (coinciding with the rut and more nighttime hours per day) and Montana drivers who typically opt out of comprehensive coverage may wish to add it to their policy during those months as the risk for collision with an animal is greater.

If you have a leased or financed vehicle, you’re almost certainly going to be required to carry full coverage. The lender needs to ensure their investment is protected, so they will make sure you carry full coverage.

If you own your vehicle outright, you won’t be required to carry full coverage but experts recommend it if the annual cost for coverage is 10 percent or less of your vehicle’s value.

Remember, if you do file a claim, you’ll have to pay a deductible and your rates will likely increase. Ask your insurer how much and for how long your rates will increase to decide if a claim is worth filing.

Additional Liability

We mentioned uninsured motorist coverage earlier. Another optional coverage to protect yourself is Medical Payments (MedPay). If you’re in an accident, it will cover injury costs for you and those in your vehicle regardless of whose fault the accident was.

Montana Additional Auto Insurance Liability Loss Ratio
Loss Ratio201220132014
Medical Payments (Med Pay)73%63%69%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist65%60%58%

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If you’re wondering what those loss ratios listed above are, you’re not alone! I’ll explain it. The loss ratio is how much is paid in claims to how much is earned in premiums. With a loss ratio of 58 percent means that out of every $100 earned in premiums, $58 is paid in claims.

The loss ratios above are fairly solid and do not indicate any impending bankruptcies in the industry as a whole.

Just under 10 percent of motorists are uninsured in Montana. To be exact, 9.9 percent of drivers are uninsured, which ranks Montana at number 33 out of all the states, which is a bit better than average.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

There are many options for more well-rounded protection.

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
  • Non-Owner Auto Insurance
  • Modified Auto Insurance Coverage
  • Classic Auto Insurance
  • Usage-Based Insurance

Pay-as-you-drive is a new and popular type of coverage. Metromile is leading the way, but they are currently unavailable in Montana. Usage-based coverage is a “cousin” to pay-as-you-drive.

Typically, usage-based policies base your rates on how safely you drive according to a telemetric device you install in your vehicle.

Next, we’ll reveal some really interesting information! We’re going to look at actual rates from actual companies for different demographics. We partnered with Quadrant Data to bring you some relevant and accurate data.

Rates by Demographic

Keep in mind that when we list averages, those are the averages for all driving histories, credit histories, and demographics. Your rates could vary greatly from these we show you. It’s important that you compare rates for yourself! These rates just give you a guide for reference.

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in MT

Spoiler alert: there is no difference. The state of Montana forbids the consideration of sex in rate formulation.

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Everyone has heard that teenage boys pay far higher rates than teenage girls. While that’s true in most of the country, in Montana, they pay the same rates!

Montana instituted this law in 1985, and similar legislation took a long time to catch on but other states have adopted a similar unisex approach to auto insurance, and in 2019 California began forbidding gender to be calculated into rates.

Rates by Age

While Mid-Century may be a competitive choice for most age groups, it’s not going to be the best-priced option for a 17-year-old.

CompaniesMarried 35-year-old Annual RateMarried 60-year-old Annual RateSingle 17-year-old Annual RateSingle 25-year-old Annual Rate
State Farm$1,640.33$1,439.41$4,814.65$1,776.55

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Remember that as you age and as things change in your life, different insurance companies may be better for you. It’s always appropriate to shop around and compare quotes.

Rates by ZIP Code

The least expensive ZIP code for average rates is 59635 in East Helena at $2,866.45.

25 Montana ZIP Codes with the Cheapest Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates
ZIP CodeAverage Annual RateAllstate Annual RateMidCentury Annual RateGeico Annual RateSafeco Annual RateDepositors Annual RateProgressive Annual RateState Farm Annual RateUSAA Annual Rate

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The most expensive ZIP code is 59089 in Wyola at $3,457.80

25 Montana ZIP Codes with the Most Expensive Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates
ZIP CodeAverage Annual RateAllstate Annual RateMidCentury Annual RateGeico Annual RateSafeco Annual RateDepositors Annual RateProgressive Annual RateState Farm Annual RateUSAA Annual Rate

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Where in Montana you live could cost or save you hundreds of dollars on auto insurance each year.

Rates by City

People that have lived in Montana their whole lives may not have heard of some of these “cities.” For the sake of sharing this information, we’ve labeled every place with a post office as a “city.”

Here are the 25 cities where you’ll pay some of the lowest rates in the state.

25 Cheapest Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Montana City
CityAverage Annual Rate
EAST HELENA$2,866.45
WISE RIVER$3,001.95

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You’ll want to avoid buying auto insurance in the following cities, which have the most expensive rates in the state.

25 Most Expensive Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Montana City
CityAverage Annual Rate
FORT SMITH$3,436.52
LODGE GRASS$3,433.47
RED LODGE$3,414.03
HEART BUTTE$3,408.40
BIG TIMBER$3,372.28

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Helena comes in lowest at $2886.71 while Kallispel averages $3334.32 a year. The rest of the top ten cities lie somewhere in between.

Montana Auto Insurance Companies

Prices are an important part of choosing a auto insurance carrier. But there need to be other things that factor into your decision.

For example, let’s say you found a rate from Company A that was quite a bit lower than Company B and you decided to go with Company A based on that alone. Then you run into a moose and have to file a claim, but you have trouble reaching anyone from your insurance company.

When you do finally reach an agent, they fight your claim every step of the way. The experience is a nightmare and you realize it would have probably been better to pay more and go with Company B because of their good reputation.

Finding all that information could take a lot of work, but we’ve already done it! And we’ve compiled the information in one place next!

Here are the stats about financial stability, customer satisfaction and, the one you likely care most about: rates.

Financial Ratings

The largest companies in the state got there through hard work and stability. They all have good financial ratings. If you’re looking at one of the smaller insurers in the state, check their financial stability rating and outlook from A.M. Best.

A.M. Best Ratings of Montana Auto Insurance Companies
CompaniesA.M. Best Rating
State FarmA++
Liberty MutualA
Mountain West FarmA-

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Next, we’ll look at how satisfied customers are with auto insurance companies.

Customer Satisfaction

J.D. Power ranks auto insurers throughout the country each year. Here’s how the major companies rate in the northwest region of the U.S.

J.D. Power 2018 Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking of Auto Insurance Companies – Northwest Region
CompaniesRankingJ.D. Power Circle Rating™
PEMCO Insurance8425
The Hartford8324
American Family8264
State Farm8173
Liberty Mutual8073
Northwest Region8133

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In nearly every region, USAA outperforms the competition in rates and customer satisfaction. It’s not available to the general public, though.

Complaint Ratios

QBE, the 10th largest insurer by market share in the state had a complaint ratio is very high at nearly 95. Because they are a small company, it only took five complaints to put their ratio that high.

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Below are the complaint ratios for the ten largest insurers in the state.

Complaint Index of the 10 Largest Montana Auto Insurance Companies by Market Share
CompaniesComplaint IndexMarket Share
Farmers Insurance (Mid-Century)0.4618.10%
State Farm0.5713.00%
Liberty Mutual (Safeco)0.667.30%
Allstate Corp0.696.10%
Nationwide (Depositors Insurance)1.093.40%
Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual1.132.30%

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Rates by Company

These rates are the average for the state of Montana for all driving histories, credit histories, and ages. Expect your rate to vary.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates in Montana Compared to National Average
CompaniesNational Average Annual RatesCompared to State AveragePercentage Over/Under State Average
State Farm$2,417.73-$803.11-33.22%
Depositors Insurance$3,478.26+$257.41+7.40%
Mid-Century Ins Co$3,907.55+$686.70+17.57%
Progressive NorthWestern$4,330.76+$1,109.92+25.63%

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Safeco is looking like a solid option!

Commute Rates

Half of the companies in our survey charged the same rate regardless of the annual miles.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Commute
Companies10-Mile Commute,
6,000 Annual Mileage
25-Mile Commute,
12,000 Annual Mileage
Nationwide$3,478.26 $3,478.26
Geico$3,538.49 $3,666.20
Farmers$3,907.55 $3,907.55
Progressive$4,330.76 $4,330.76
Allstate$4,561.46 $4,782.74

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Of the ones that charged more, Allstate charged the most ($221 annually) for the higher mileage commute and USAA the least ($49 annually).

Rates by Coverage Level

The more coverage you have, the more expensive your rates will be.

Montana Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Coverage Type
CompaniesAnnual Rate with Low CoverageAnnual Rate with Medium CoverageAnnual Rate with High Coverage
Liberty Mutual$1,231.99 $1,329.79 $1,416.55
USAA$1,943.70 $2,021.60$2,130.37
State Farm$2,289.67 $2,407.88 $2,555.66
Nationwide$2,678.46 $3,706.80 $4,049.52
Geico$3,460.99 $3,577.02 $3,769.03
Farmers$3,630.98 $3,903.65 $4,188.01
Progressive$4,090.20 $4,318.46 $4,583.63
Allstate$4,449.47 $4,661.15 $4,905.69

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From the table above, Liberty Mutual has the lowest insurance rates overall regardless of coverage level.

Rates by Credit History

The use of credit history in rate formulation is a hotly debated subject. Those who argue against it say that it unfairly raises rates of good drivers because their credit history is less than stellar. Those in favor argue that individuals with lower scores are statistically more likely to file a claim.

Regardless of your stance on the issue, credit scores are a major factor in your rates for most companies.

Insurance credit scores differ from your standard credit rating, but the information for both are pulled from the same credit report.

Montana Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Credit History
CompaniesAnnual Rate with Good CreditAnnual Rate with Fair CreditAnnual Rate with Poor Credit
Liberty Mutual$1,326.11$1,326.11$1,326.11
State Farm$1,660.31$2,116.08$3,476.81

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Liberty Mutual’s rates remain the same regardless of your credit score. Geico and State Farm will charge you more than double for poor credit than for good.

The average credit score for a citizen of Montana is 689 which is higher than the national average of 675. If your credit score is higher, you’ll likely pay lower auto insurance rates.

Rates by Driving Record

Your driving record is the biggest indication of your risk to an insurance company. For example, an intoxicated driver who has had a DUI conviction within the past three years is four times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than an intoxicated driver without a prior DUI.

If your history indicates a bigger risk for an insurance company to take on, you’ll pay for it with higher rates.

Montana Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record
CompaniesClean recordWith one speeding violationWith one accidentWith one DUI
State Farm$2,255.63$2,417.73$2,579.85$2,417.73
Liberty Mutual$903.51$1,259.73$1,570.59$1,570.59

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While you may think a DUI will make your rates increase more than any other offense, that’s not always the case. As you can see, State Farm raises rates by the same amount for a speeding violation as they do for a DUI conviction.

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Some companies view an accident as a greater risk factor than a DUI (Farmers, Progressive, State Farm) but half of the companies in our study do charge the most to drivers with a DUI conviction on record.

Largest Companies by Market Share

The table below offers some details on the largest insurers in Montana.

Top 10 Montana Auto Insurance Companies by Market Share
CompaniesDirect Premiums WrittenLoss RatioMarket Share
State Farm$166,71458.29%22.99%
Liberty Mutual$93,42856.54%12.88%
Mountain West Farm$38,87958.37%5.36%
QBE Insurance$22,48062.39%3.10%

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State Farm has almost double the market share of Liberty Mutual, the second-largest auto insurer in Montana.

Total Number of Private Passenger Auto Insurers

Montana has more than auto insurers. These insurance companies can be categorized as foreign or domestic.

Montana Domestic and Foreign Auto Insurance Companies
Insurance TypeNumber of Licensed Companies

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Less than 2 percent of the auto insurers in Montana are domestic companies.

Montana Laws

Montana Code Annotated contains all the laws you need to know. Unfortunately, it’s not considered leisure reading material and it would take days, weeks, months, or maybe even a lifetime to wade through.

We’ll cover the most important laws you need to know for driving!

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Auto Insurance Laws

Auto insurance companies must file rates and supporting data with the state prior to use. The Office of the Montana State Auditor assures residents of the following:

We make sure the policies sold in Montana comply with those laws and that prices are not unreasonably high.

They also are willing to answer questions and help you make sure you receive fair compensation from your insurance company after filing a claim.

High-Risk Insurance

As your risk increases, your rates will increase. Sometimes, after certain accidents or DUI convictions, your insurance company may drop your coverage because they deem you too high of a risk. At that point, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding insurance anywhere.

That’s where an assigned risk pool can offer you the insurance you need to drive. Montana Automobile Insurance Plan is part of the Western Association of Automobile Insurance Plans.

Windshield Coverage

While some states require insurers to replace or repair windshields with no deductible, you won’t find that law in Montana.

Some insurance companies may offer Montanans windshield insurance to replace broken glass, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a company offering that perk because the risk for windshields breaking in Montana is too high.

Basically, what I’m trying to break to you is: Don’t get your hopes up for a deductible-free windshield replacement.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in Montana

Insurance fraud costs the average American consumer about 10 percent higher premiums. Cases of hard fraud, such as falsifying claims and staging accidents are easy to condemn, but the cases of soft fraud, such as lying about personal information to get a lower rate, hurt the industry just as much.

Consumer fraud isn’t the only fraudulent activity to watch out for. A company not licensed to sell insurance may try to woo customers with low rates only to not provide actual coverage. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to investigate a company in more areas than just a promised rate.

Insurance fraud is classified as a crime in Montana, and The Office of the Montana State Auditor, Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance investigates and prosecutes fraudulent activity in the industry.

If you suspect fraud you can download a fraud form here to report it.

Also, remember the importance of honesty when getting insurance and filing claims. If the insurance company finds out you’ve been lying, your claims could be denied and you could be prosecuted.

Statute of Limitation

The statute of limitations for bringing a property damage case to court is two years in Montana. The limit for making injury claims, or filing an injury lawsuit is three years.

If you haven’t made a claim within that time period, you are out of luck.

For insurance claims, you are far better off making a claim right away and not waiting until you approach the statute of limitations. If you wait too long, you may not be able to access or remember information important to your claim, and your case may be harder to prove.

Vehicle Licensing Laws

Going hand-in-hand with the requirement for auto insurance, are the requirements for drivers to be licensed and vehicles to be registered. Each of these three demands must be fulfilled to drive legally.

Think about it. If you are pulled over, what do you expect the law enforcement officer to say first? He will most likely request your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.

Most of what we’ve looked at so far has focused on the insurance aspect. Now we’ll touch on the license and registration topics.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

There are some serious consequences to driving without insurance in Montana.

  • First Offense
    • Fine — $250-$500 and/or
    • Imprisonment — 10 days maximum
  • Second Offense
    • Fine — $350 and/or
    • Imprisonment — 10 days maximum
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses
    • Fine — $500 and/or
    • Imprisonment — Six months maximum

Also, for second and subsequent convictions, the registration and plates must be surrendered. Upon the ability to provide proof of insurance, the offender may receive a restricted registration that restricts the use of the vehicle to employment purposes. The restricted registration must remain for the following lengths of time

  • Second Offense — 90 days
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses — 180 days

Fourth and subsequent convictions require the suspension of the offender’s driver’s license.

The lookback period where previous offenses are considered is five years.

Montana law enforcement officers have access to a database which, in theory, provides up-to-the-minute information regarding a vehicle’s insurance status. This database is called the Montana Insurance Verification System (MTIVS).

The highway patrol and many local agencies may access MTIVS but drivers are still required to provide proof of insurance. The state accepts the following forms:

  • Insurance card
  • Insurance policy
  • Electronic proof

The system is also accessed by title and registration offices.

In Montana, if a vehicle is registered, it must be insured.

Teen Driving Laws

Like the rest of the U.S., Montana has a graduated driver licensing (GDL) system for teen drivers. The goal of a graduated system is to increase safety. Statistics prove that the increased regulation for teen drivers has brought the rate of accidents down.

Montana Teen Driver Laws
Young Driver Licensing LawsMinimum AgePassenger RestrictionsTime Restrictions
Learner's Permit14 years, six months if enrolled in an approved driver education program.
16 years old otherwise
A licensed parent, guardian or another authorized (by parent or guardian) individual must supervise.
All passengers must be seat belted.
Teens must have a supervised 50 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours at night
Provisional License15 years old and have held learner's permit for at least six months.First six months—no more than one passenger younger than 18;
second six months—no more than three passengers younger than 18 (family members excepted)
No driving between 11 p.m. and five a.m. (travel to and from certain activities excepted)
Full License16 years old if held provisional license for at least 12 months.
18 years old otherwise

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Montana allows teens to receive each stage of the license at an earlier age than is recommended by the CDC.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures

For the most part, the renewal procedures for older drivers is the same as the general population. Everyone is allowed to renew their license by mail or online every other renewal. All drivers must also provide proof of adequate vision at renewal.

Montana Older Driver vs General Population Renewal Procedures
License Renewal ProceduresGeneral PopulationOlder Population
License renewal cycleEvery eight years or 75th birthday, whichever occurs firstEver four years for people 75 and older
Mail or online renewal permittedEither is permitted every other renewal.
Must renew in person every other renewal.
Either is permitted every other renewal.
Must renew in person every other renewal.
Proof of adequate vision required at renewalEvery renewal Every renewal

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Unlike younger drivers who must renew their licenses every eight years, drivers 75 and older must renew their licenses every four years.

New Residents

If you’re new to Montana, you should be aware that you have to apply for a Montana driver license within 60 days of moving. When applying for a license, here’s what you’ll need to have:

  • Proof of identity — a driver license or ID from another state or Canada, a passport, or a certified birth certificate
  • Proof of residency — includes a utility bill, rental agreement, bank statement, payroll check or stub
  • Proof of authorized presence — Birth certificate or passport are the most common proofs

Montana Rules of the Road

Where there are roads, there must be rules or there would be pandemonium. Montanna is a large state with I-90 crossing east/west and I-15 going north/south. The distance between towns can be long and most drivers are glad for the 80 mph speed limits on the interstates.

Long-time residents sometimes reflect fondly on the days where the speed limit was governed by the words, “reasonable and prudent,” but those vague speed limit days are no more.

Fault Vs No-Fault

Montana is a fault state, otherwise known as a tort state. The party responsible for the accident is also responsible for paying for the damages.

Keep Right Laws

Drivers traveling more slowly than the average speed of traffic is required to keep right. There are a few clueless drivers who like to drive in the passing lane of the interstate. If you’re one of them, move to the right! Traffic will travel flow much more smoothly.

When a driver in front of you is turning left, you may pass on the right as long as you do not leave the well-maintained portion of the roadway.

Move-Over Laws

When an emergency vehicle with lights on is stopped on the roadway or off the roadway Vehicles must move to the non-adjacent lane if safe to do so. If unable to safely move to a further lane, drivers must slow down.

If on a highway with a speed limit of 50 mph or greater, the driver must slow down at least 20 mph if unable to safely move to a non-adjacent lane.

Speed Limits

The speed limits in Montana are based on time of day and vehicle type.

Montana Speed Limits by Roadway Type
RoadwayDaytime Speed Limit (mph)Nighttime Speed Limit (mph)Truck: Daytime Speed Limit (mph)Truck: Nighttime Speed Limit (mph)
Rural Interstates80
Urban Interstates (Billings, Great Falls, Missoula)65656565
Two-Lane Highway70

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For the most part, trucks must drive slower than other vehicles on the road except for on urban interstates where the speed limit is 65 at all times for all vehicles.

Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws

All occupants in all seats are required to wear seat belts. Enforcement is secondary, so the driver must commit a primary offense to be pulled over, but once pulled over, seat belt violations may be ticketed.

This video tells the story of how the Killoy family’s lives were saved by wearing seatbelts.

Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies often participate in buckle-up campaigns to encourage more seat belt use. A seat belt offense will cost $20. The monetary fine is nothing compared to the danger you put yourself in when you don’t buckle.

If you have more people riding in the vehicle than there are seatbelts, all the seatbelts must be used and the remaining passengers may remain unbuckled. Also, there are no laws restricting riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck.

Child safety seat laws in Montana leave a lot of room for parental judgment. Properly fitted and installed child safety seats can be the difference between life and death in a crash.

Montana law states that children under 6 years of age and under 60 pounds must be in a child safety seat. Both must be met to legally discontinue safety seat use.

So, if your child is seven years old, but weight 50 pounds, they must still be in a car seat or booster seat. Similarly, if your child weighs 65 pounds but is 5 years old, they must still be secured in a safety seat.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children are secured in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old or outgrow the car seat’s specs.

School Bus Laws

Sometimes there is confusion about what to do when a school bus is stopped. This video explains the proper driver response.

Passing a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing is not only dangerous. It’s against the law.


Lyft and Uber are allowed to operate in the state. Farmers and State Farm offer rideshare coverage to bridge the gap between when regular auto insurance covers you and when Uber or Lyft insurance gives you protection.

Automation on the Road

Not surprisingly, Montana is not a hotbed for autonomous vehicle technology. The state legislature is still investigating and determining what laws need to be updated to cover the new range of issues autonomous vehicles would bring to the state.

Safety Laws

Driving always carries risk, and there are some behaviors that increase that risk. We’ll look at some of those behaviors and the laws Montana has concerning them now:

DUI Laws

In Montana, “DUI” is short for “driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

The lookback period (the time frame in which previous convictions are considered) is 10 years, but once you have a third DUI, the lookback period changes to lifetime.

Montana DUI Penalties
PenaltyFirst OffenseSecond OffenseThird and Subsequent Offenses
License SuspensionSix monthsOne yearOne year
Imprisonment24 hours - six monthsSeven days - one year30 days - one year
Fine$600 - $1000 plus $200 reinstatement fee$1200 - $2000 $2500 - $5000
Other10 license points for life; must participate in ACT phases (assessment, course, treatment); may be ordered to use IID10 license points for life; may be required to enroll in 24/7 sobriety program10 license points for life = 30 total - Driver's License revoked for being a Habitual Traffic Offender

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If passengers under 16 years old are in the vehicle at the time of the offense, penalties typically double.

The judge can decide when and if a DUI offender is eligible for a probationary license during the suspension. A probationary license allows driving only for the following reasons:

  • Work or school
  • Required chemical dependency programs
  • A location reasonably related to maintenance of the household

Unfortunately, Montana is ranked worst for drunk driving. Be aware that drunk drivers are out on the road, report suspicious behavior, and don’t drink and drive.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Montana allows marijuana use for medical reasons. However, a person found to be operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana (blood level five ng/ml of THC or greater) they will face the same penalties listed above. Additionally, their medical marijuana card will be suspended or revoked.

Distracted Driving Laws

Montana is the only state with no handheld or texting bans. Even novice drivers are not prohibited from texting while driving.

Remember, though, that just because there is no state-wide ban, you could still get in trouble for texting or using a handheld electronic device depending on where you are.

Most of the major cities in Montana have hands-free city ordinances.

There are handheld bans where over one-third of the population lives, and since the bans are in the larger cities, the majority of Montanans will be driving to or through these areas on a regular basis.

Montana Can’t-Miss Facts

There are a lot of driving stats. Finding helpful information can be difficult when so much is available at our fingertips. We’ll show you the most relevant facts. By seeing this data, you can learn what risks are out there and endeavor to mitigate the risk as best you can.

Most Stolen Vehicles

In a state where it seems that most households own a truck, it’s not surprising that pickup trucks dominate the top 10 most stolen vehicles list:

  • 1999 Chevy Pickup (full size)
  • 1995 Ford Pickup (full size)
  • 2006 Dodge Pickup (full size)
  • 2008 GMC Pickup (full size)
  • 1994 Honda Accord
  • 2001 Chevy Impala
  • 1996 Ford Explorer
  • 1995 Chevy Pickup (small size)
  • 2015 Toyota Camry
  • 2000 Ford Pickup (small size)

Vehicle Theft in Montana’s Largest Cities

This information is from the FBI from 2013. It does not include information for Butte.

Vehicle Thefts in Montana's 10 Largest Cities
CityMotor Vehicle Thefts
Great Falls104

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Billings is the largest city, so you would expect the highest crime rates. What’s surprising is how much higher the vehicle theft rate is than in the next largest city, Missoula. Billings not even double the size of Missoula yet its vehicle theft rate is more than quadruple Missoula’s.

Risky and Harmful Behavior

Montana leads the country in traffic deaths per capita. Contributing factors include:

  • Miles driven
  • Mountain passes
  • Changing weather conditions
  • Intoxicated drivers
  • The abundance of wild animals

Wintery roads are a dangerous reality you’ll have to face considering winter seems to last a solid 75 percent of the year and snow has fallen every month of the year in the state. So, if you live in Montana, you’re going to have to embrace the chill.

Traffic Fatalities

The table below provides an overview of traffic fatalities in Montana.

Montana Traffic Fatalities
TypeNumber of Fatalities
Traffic Fatalities 186
Passenger Vehicle Occupant Fatalities (All Seat Positions)143
Motorcyclist Fatalities23
Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes228
Pedestrian Fatalities14
Bicyclist and other Cyclist Fatalities 1

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Most fatalities involve the driver of the vehicle followed by the passengers.

Rural Vs Urban Fatalities

Let’s see how those numbers break down based on location:

Montana Traffic Fatalities by Roadway Type
Roadway TypeNumber of Fatalities 2017

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The number of fatalities on rural roads is almost nine times the number of those in urban areas.

Fatalities by Person Type

Below we can see the numbers based on whether the fatality was a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.

Montana Traffic Fatalities by Person Type
Person TypeNumber of Fatalities 2017
Occupants (Enclosed Vehicles)144

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Most of the fatalities involved occupants of the vehicle(s) involved in the crash.

Fatalities by Crash Type

Now we’ll take a look at the fatalities by the type of accident.

Montana Traffic Fatalities by Crash Type
Crash TypeNumber
Single Vehicle116
Involving a Large Truck22
Involving Speeding59
Involving a Rollover90
Involving a Roadway Departure139
Involving an Intersection (or Intersection-Related)23

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Crashes that involved a vehicle leaving the roadway resulted in the most fatalities.

Five-Year Trend for the Top Counties

This is how the statistics have varied in the top counties between 2013 and 2017.

Top 10 Montana Counties for Traffic Fatalities (2013–2017)
Missoula County1515152017
Flathead County2113121815
Big Horn County109111313
Yellowstone County2118171712
Lewis And Clark County7615411
Gallatin County9910109
Lake County116689
Glacier County157677
Broadwater County23206
Cascade County12159126
Top Ten Counties130109114118105
All Other Counties99831107281
All Counties229192224190186

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Missoula County had the most traffic fatalities in 2017, but the total was less than it had the previous year.

Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

Speeding-related accidents were responsible for a number of fatalities.

Montana Speeding Fatalities by County (2017)
CountySpeeding FatalitiesFatalities Per 100,000 Population
Flathead County55
Gallatin County54.64
Yellowstone County53.15
Lewis And Clark County45.9
Glacier County321.99
Hill County318.22
Missoula County32.55
Treasure County3441.83
Big Horn County214.97
Broadwater County233.69
Cascade County22.45
Lake County26.61
Park County212.23
Phillips County248.56
Richland County218.12
Stillwater County221.23
Carbon County19.35
Chouteau County117.35
Deer Lodge County110.98
Jefferson County18.41
Liberty County141.2
Madison County112.23
Meagher County154.02
Powell County114.72
Rosebud County110.81
Sanders County18.54
Sheridan County128.83
Silver Bow County12.89

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Twenty-eight counties had no speeding fatalities in 2017 and are not included in the table.

Fatalities Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County

Drinking and driving is never a good idea and this table shows why.

Montana Alcohol-Related Fatalities by County (2013–2017)
CountyFatalities 2013Fatalities 2014Fatalities 2015Fatalities 2016Fatalities 2017Fatalities Per 100,000 Population 2013Fatalities per 100,000 Population 2014Fatalities per 100,000 Population 2015Fatalities per 100,000 Population 2016Fatalities per 100,000 Population 2016
Beaverhead County2001021.50010.590
Big Horn County5456538.1230.0137.6644.8737.43
Blaine County03310045.1145.3315.020
Broadwater County01002017.680033.69
Carbon County002100019.259.530
Cascade County693527.3110.983.676.142.45
Chouteau County1221217.1133.9634.6817.2634.69
Custer County101008.4308.2900
Daniels County01000055.71000
Dawson County1030310.67031.39033.52
Deer Lodge County002000021.9600
Fergus County0110108.848.8608.86
Flathead County10258210.772.125.228.192
Gallatin County353663.185.152.995.775.57
Garfield County1000079.740000
Glacier County12357487.1521.9236.7151.2129.33
Granite County0001000030.380
Hill County112016.056.0712.1806.07
Jefferson County110008.758.71000
Lake County4414413.7713.733.413.4613.21
Lewis And Clark County311444.611.521.515.995.9
Lincoln County6141030.925.2221.045.20
Madison County2120126.0912.8625.25012.23
Meagher County00020000108.580
Mineral County0001000024.240
Missoula County635545.382.674.394.313.41
Musselshell County01000021.6000
Park County0142106.2925.0612.426.12
Petroleum County10010196.0800200.80
Phillips County01002024.010048.56
Powder River County001000056.5900
Powell County1001114.390014.614.72
Ravalli County411219.842.462.434.782.35
Richland County5111144.838.678.418.779.06
Roosevelt County133409.0226.626.335.650
Rosebud County02231021.4721.4232.3810.81
Sanders County122128.8517.6917.728.7217.08
Sheridan County02000054.78000
Silver Bow County212015.812.895.802.89
Stillwater County2011021.59010.6110.680
Sweet Grass County1100127.3627.50027.09
Teton County1020016.56033.0600
Toole County1011019.54019.720.160
Treasure County00031000437.96147.28
Valley County01100013.1413.1400
Yellowstone County6135943.918.383.25.712.52

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Only 10 counties had no fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver during the five years: Carter, Fallon, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Liberty, McCone, Pondera, Prairie, Wheatland, and Wibaux.

Teens and Drunk Driving

In Montana, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration in those under 21 years of age is 0.02 percent.

Montana has the highest rate of underage fatalities related to alcohol-impaired driving.

Underage Drinking in Montana
Underage DrinkingStats
Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities (under 21) Per 100,000 Population3.0
Higher/Lower Than National Average (1.2)Highest in the Nation
DUI Arrest (Under 18 years old)42
DUI Arrests (Under 18 years old) Total Per Million People184.53

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Unfortunately, Montana ranks highest in the nation for alcohol-related fatalities involving drivers 21 and younger.

EMS Response Time

Fatalities on rural roadways are much higher because of the long response time by emergency services as the table below shows.

Montana EMS Response Time Based on Crash Location
Crash LocationTime of Crash to EMS
Notification (minutes)
EMS Notification to
EMS Arrival (minutes)
EMS Arrival at Scene
to Hospital Arrival (minutes)
Time of Crash to Hospital
Arrival (minutes)
Rural Fatal Crashes9.2315.5542.3359.38
Urban Fatal Crashes 1.236.2527.7735.38

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Almost an hour passes between the time of the crash and the time crash victims arrive at the hospital.


How do most people get around Montana? Let’s take a look.

Car Ownership

When it comes to car ownership, Montana is pretty much like the rest of the U.S. Most people own two cars. Three- and one-car households are the next two largest groups.

Commuter Transportation

It’s no surprise that the majority of Montanan’s, almost 75 percent, commute alone. The availability of public transportation is extremely limited, and carpooling is not part of the culture. About seven percent of Montanan’s work from home.

Commute Time

The average Montanan’s commute is significantly shorter in time than the U.S. average. The average Montanan spends 17.2 minutes getting to work compared to the national average of 25.7 minutes. Slightly over two percent of commuters have a drive time of 90 minutes or more.

Traffic Congestion

Yes, there is traffic congestions in Montana, surprisingly! Los Angelos, New York, and Chicago residents may beg to differ, but when your trip through town takes twice as long as usual, it’s annoying!

I would be remiss if I didn’t take this moment to point out the stereotypical “Montana traffic jam.” While you probably won’t face this every day on your commute, there will likely be a time or two you’ve encountered a slowdown due to a herd of elk, another mass animal crossing, or a cattle drive.

Now you have a pretty good picture of what you’ll need for insurance in Montana, and what you can expect for rates. To find out how must YOU can expect to pay for auto insurance, compare quotes right here, today!


  1. https://www.insurance.ca.gov/0400-news/0100-press-releases/2019/release003-19.cfm
  2. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/state-of-credit/
  3. https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/outreach/traftech/1995/tt085.htm
  4. https://csimt.gov/your-insurance/auto/
  5. https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-insurance-fraud
  6. http://csimt.gov/wp-content/uploads/InsuranceFraudReport-1.pdf
  7. https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/27/2/27-2-207.htm
  8. https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/27/2/27-2-204.htm
  9. https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/61/6/61-6-304.htm
  10. https://dojmt.gov/driving/insurance-and-verification/
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/gdl.html
  12. https://dojmt.gov/driving/driver-licensing/#DLID10
  13. https://dojmt.gov/driving/required-docs/#auth-presence
  14. https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/title_0610/chapter_0080/part_0030/section_0210/0610-0080-0030-0210.html
  15. https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/61/8/61-8-346.htm
  16. https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/laws/speedlimits
  17. https://www.mdt.mt.gov/visionzero/docs/buckleup/childbrochure.pdf
  18. https://missoulian.com/news/local/ride-sharing-company-lyft-applies-to-operate-in-montana/article_d24dba92-8126-5f1e-97f6-b2f3f112cabc.html
  19. https://www.responsibility.org/alcohol-statistics/state-map/state/montana/issue/dui-look-back-periods/
  20. https://www.mdt.mt.gov/visionzero/docs/dui_penalties.pdf
  21. https://dojmt.gov/montana-highway-patrol-launches-new-dispatch-number-today/
  22. https://www.mdt.mt.gov/visionzero/docs/CELL-PHONE-BAN-MAP.PDF
  23. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-8/table-8-state-cuts/table_8_offenses_known_to_law_enforcement_montana_by_city_2013.xls
  24. https://www.responsibility.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2016-Under-21-Alcohol-Impaired-Driving-Fatalities-Per-100000-Population-by-State.pdf
  25. https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-

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