Statute of Limitations for Claims
The statute of limitations for insurance claims in Montana is three years for personal injury claims and two years for property damage claims. After the statute of limitations ends, insurance companies are no longer obligated to pay out a claim. However, you’re allowed to file a claim after the statute of limitations is over and attempt to collect money.
Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws
If your insurance company cancels your policy due to insurance fraud, license suspension, or a change in your driving record, it has 45 days to notify you before the policy expires. If your insurance company cancels your policy due to nonpayment, it has 10 days to notify you before the expiration date.
Your insurance company can also refuse to renew your policy when the policy period ends. For example, if the company stops selling policies in your area or you get convicted of a DUI, it might not renew your policy at the end of the term. For nonrenewal, insurance companies have 45 days to notify you before your coverage ends. In the case of non-renewal, the insurance carrier must also provide a reason for why it is refusing to renew your coverage.
Montana allows drivers to self-insure rather than purchase traditional car insurance policies. The alternative is a $55,000 deposit that drivers file with the state treasurer. Drivers who choose this option are given a certificate of deposit, which serves as their proof of financial responsibility.6
Car Inspection Requirements
Montana is one of only a handful of states that do not require emissions or safety inspections. However, many auto body shops offer voluntary emissions testing.
An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility. It verifies that you carry the minimum required car insurance in the state. In Montana, you are required to get an SR-22 only if your driver’s license has been revoked for certain felony convictions, such as negligent homicide while driving. Additionally, it’s required if you get more than 30 points on your driving record within a three-year period.
Defensive driving courses, which teach you how to drive safely and avoid hazards, are not a requirement in Montana. However, you might be able to get a car insurance discount of up to 10 percent by completing a state-approved course. Montana’s main defensive driving course is an in-person program that takes about four hours to complete.7
Accident Reporting Requirements
It’s a law in Montana that you must report an accident immediately if there are fatalities or more than $1,000 in injuries or property damage. Failure to report a crash meeting these requirements is a misdemeanor that carries a fine between $200 and $300 or 20 days in jail.
In most states, insurance companies will ask for your gender when calculating your car insurance premium. Because women are statistically less likely to drive recklessly and cause accidents, women typically pay lower car insurance rates than men. But in Montana, it’s illegal for car insurance companies to base their rates on gender.
In addition, in some states, it’s illegal to discriminate against drivers based on their credit score. However, Montana car insurance companies are allowed to run your credit when you apply for car insurance and use your credit score to determine your rate. In general, drivers with good credit pay less for car insurance.
Total Loss Guidelines
If your car is badly damaged in a covered accident, your insurance company will determine if your vehicle is worth fixing or if it’s totaled based on a total loss formula.
In Montana, a car is considered totaled when the vehicle’s ACV (the value before the damage) is equal to or less than the estimated cost of repairs, plus the salvage value (the value after the damage).
Keep in mind that you can usually receive compensation for a totaled car only if you carry collision and/or comprehensive insurance, both optional policies.