Car accidents happen to people from all walks of life. They aren't just reserved for dangerous drivers, either. Unfortunately, safe, conscientious drivers find themselves in crashes all the time. This is one of the many reasons that auto insurance is so important, and it's why states like Montana require drivers to prove that they can handle their financial responsibilities in the event of such accidents. Like some states, Montana gives drivers several ways to establish proof of financial responsibility. At the end of the day, though, liability insurance is the way to go.
Drivers who opt to meet their financial responsibility obligations with liability insurance should know that Montana enforces certain minimum requirements. It is in a driver's best interests to look into these requirements and be aware of them before gathering auto insurance quotes. Instead of purchasing the absolute minimum amount of coverage, a driver should get a policy with better limits and more protection. Studying statistics about who drives in Montana tends to convince people to buy first-rate policies. The fact of the matter is that there are many drivers on the road in this sparsely populated state, and drivers can never be too careful.
Who Drives in Montana?
Despite being the fourth-largest state in the country in terms of area, Montana, which is also known as Big Sky Country, has a very small population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated population of the state was just 1,005,141 in 2012. Of that total, the Federal Highway Administration reports that 752,483 people, or 74.9 percent of the population, were licensed to drive in November 2012. Male drivers totaled 382,046, or 50.77 of all licensed drivers. Female drivers totaled 370,437, or 49.23 percent of all licensed drivers.
Although the FHA keeps track of statistics concerning gender, such information isn't pertinent at all to insurance carriers when calculating premiums. In other words, gender can't be taken into consideration at all. The age of a driver, on the other, certainly can be and usually is. Insurance companies base premiums on the risk that's involved in insuring different drivers. Younger drivers have less driving experience, so they're riskier. In Montana in November 2012, there were 19,504 drivers aged 19 and below, which equaled 2.6 percent of all licensed drivers. 37,700 people, or 5 percent of all licensed drivers, were between the ages of 55 and 59, so there are also many experienced drivers on the road in the state as well.
Car Insurance Requirements in Montana
It's true that liability insurance is just one of the ways in which a driver can establish financial responsibility in Montana. However, it tends to be the right choice for most people. Technically, drivers may also file bonds with licensed surety companies or file cash deposits of $55,000 or more with the state treasurer to meet the requirement.
For those who do opt to buy liability insurance, the minimum requirements are:
- At least $25,000 in bodily injury protection for one person
- At least $50,000 in bodily injury protection for two or more people
- At least $10,000 in property damage coverage
It's perfectly fine and usually advisable to buy more extensive coverage, and most people choose to do so.
Insurance companies contact law enforcement agencies to inform them of drivers' insurance coverage statuses. Still, drivers have to carry proof of coverage with them at all times or risk facing serious penalties.
Montana has some of the harshest penalties out there for drivers who are caught driving without insurance. First offenders face misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $500. They may also spend up to 10 days in jail, and they usually receive five points on their driving records. Those points can prompt insurance premium increases that last years.
Subsequent offenses involve even more severe penalties. Drivers may still face 10 days in jail and fines of at least $350. However, their licenses are also suspended for at least 90 days.
The right insurance helps people avoid legal trouble and financial problems, so drivers should collect auto insurance quotes before buying policies in Montana.