Montana Auto Insurance Review

When it comes to auto insurance, Montana has had things pretty easy. A typical Montana insurance premium sits $145 below the national average, making it one of the most affordable states for insuring a vehicle. But the rising rates of auto thefts, deer-vehicle collisions, and auto repair costs are driving premiums upward. This makes it all the more important to find an auto insurance policy with the coverage that best suits your needs and budget. Our reviews of the five best auto insurance companies in Montana are a great place to get started; then use our quote tool to see what each company can offer you.

How We Found the Best Montana Auto Insurance

To find the best auto insurance companies in Montana, we followed a methodology similar to that in our review of the best auto insurance. First, we found the largest insurers in the state by market share and confirmed their financial strength with rating agencies like A.M. Best, Moody’s, and S&P Global to ensure they’ll be able to pay out their claims when the time comes. After that, we checked out their available coverages, endorsements, and discounts to make sure the basics were covered — and to reveal any standout options. We also compared customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports: Current customers know best if providers truly make the claims process smooth and headache-free. Finally, we got quotes from each company to compare premiums and see how easy they made it to research before buying.

The 5 Best Auto Insurance Companies in Montana

Travelers

Travelers gave us our most affordable quote, coming in at just $69 per month. You’ll have to get a quote to see if the same is true for you, but we suspect that its low rates are thanks to its numerous discounts. You can save by driving a new or hybrid vehicle, owning a home, or belonging to one of Travelers’ affinity groups. There are also special discounts for teen drivers who are away at school, maintain a high GPA, or complete a driver training program.

The downside of Travelers’ low premiums is that you must choose a higher deductible. Its minimum collision and comprehensive deductibles are $500 each, and they only go up from there. For comparison, Liberty Mutual and Farmers’ deductibles start at $50 and $100, respectively.

Travelers offers a number of endorsements, including accident forgiveness and new car replacement. It’s also the only company in our top picks that offers GAP coverage, which pays for the balance of your lease or loan if your car is totaled — this could cinch the deal on Travelers if you’re still making car payments.

Farmers

Farmers is your best bet if you’re looking for a highly customizable policy. In addition to numerous standard endorsements, it has an impressive selection of “forgiveness” programs. There’s the usual accident forgiveness, but there’s also incident forgiveness (to protect you against rate hikes from small issues, like speeding tickets) and comprehensive claims forgiveness (which keeps your rates from going up following a comprehensive claim). And heads up to Uber and Lyft drivers: It’s the only company on this list to offer ridesharing coverage.

Farmers offers the highest liability coverage limits in the industry at 500/500/500, so it’s a good choice if you want the most protection possible. However, it also gave us our highest quote, coming in $168 more per month than the one from Travelers.

There is some wiggle room with your premium — deductibles start at $100 and go as high as $2,500 — but you may have to rely on Farmers’ many discounts to get your base price down. Among the standard discounts, Farmers has unusual offerings like hybrid/electric vehicle and mature driver discounts. If your vehicle has certain safety features like anti-lock brakes or an anti-theft device, you can save even more.

The Hartford

Older adults looking for auto insurance will find a lot of value in The Hartford. It offers policies to drivers of all ages, but its best rates go to seniors. However, while younger drivers will likely find the Hartford to be more expensive than the other companies on this list, it’s still worth considering for its lifetime renewability guarantee. Once you are approved for a policy, the company will never turn you down for a renewal, provided you’re able to make the premium payments — and it’s the only company in our top picks to offer such a benefit. It’s also our only top pick that locks in your rates for a full year, so you don’t have to worry about rate increases every six months.

Additionally, The Hartford stands out for its lifetime guarantee on repairs performed at one of its 1,600 authorized repair shops across the nation — particularly important for residents of Montana, where auto repair costs are some of the highest nationwide. You can earn even more benefits by signing up for The Hartford’s Advantage Plus program, which includes accident forgiveness and a disappearing deductible with a clean driving record.

Liberty Mutual

Our Liberty Mutual quote fell in the middle of the pack, but unfortunately there’s little room to adjust that premium. Deductible options start at just $50 and go up to $1,000, but there are no high-deductible options for those who would prefer one in exchange for a lower premium. In addition, Liberty Mutual lacks a wide range of liability coverage, with a disappointing upper limit of 250/500/100.

That said, it may still be worth checking out if you’re interested in certain rare endorsements. In addition to new car replacement, Liberty Mutual also offers better car replacement, which pays to replace your totaled car with a model one year newer with 15,000 fewer miles. There’s also a Deductible Fund option, which reduces your collision deductible by $100 every year you go without an accident (up to $500). Perhaps Liberty Mutual’s most standout endorsement is its lifetime repair guarantee: If your car is fixed at an approved facility, all repairs are guaranteed for the life of your vehicle.

EMC Insurance

EMC Insurance offers all of the standard auto insurance coverages, although it’s missing options like new car replacement and accident forgiveness. If you’re worried about not having these options, you can opt for the Bonus Renewal Plan: This essentially acts as accident forgiveness, though it doesn’t kick in until you’ve been insured with EMC for three years, and there’s no option to purchase it as an endorsement.

Because EMC is a small regional insurer, it didn’t make it into J.D. Power or Consumer Reports’ surveys. For that reason, we couldn’t feel comfortable recommending it over the other companies on this list. That being said, it is one of the largest insurers in Montana, which is a good indication that they treat their customers well.

If you’re only after the basics, EMC could be a great option. It’s exclusively sold through a network of independent agents throughout the state, which means there’s no online quote tool — you’ll have to dedicate a little time to calling your local agent. However, when we called for more information, we found our rep to be friendly and informative.

Guide to Montana Auto Insurance

Montana minimum liability

Every state requires its drivers to carry some liability coverage to pay for medical bills and repair costs in the event of an accident. Montana residents must have:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $25,000 property damage coverage per accident

This is abbreviated as 25/50/25 coverage. You must have at least this much coverage in order to legally drive in the state, but it’s not uncommon for accidents to cost more than the minimum. Without sufficient coverage, you’ll be responsible for paying any extra expenses out of your own pocket.

For example, if you have state minimum coverage and cause $40,000 worth of property damage, your insurance will only help you out with the first $25,000 — leaving you with the remaining $15,000. Because of this, it’s wise to purchase as much liability coverage as you can comfortably afford. That way, you won’t have to worry about any unexpected surprises in the event of an accident.

Shopping around is a better way to get a good deal on your insurance without sacrificing coverage. Every insurer uses similar information in calculating your premiums, including your driving record, vehicle make and model, and location, but each company weighs these factors differently. By researching and getting quotes, you can figure out which one offers you the best deal on the most coverage.

Montana’s auto insurance rates are low, but rising

The driving factor behind Montana’s low auto insurance premiums is its low traffic density. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Montana sees the fewest vehicle miles driven each year per highway mile. Fewer cars on the road means a lower risk of accidents, which ultimately incentivizes insurance companies to lower rates.

Unfortunately, recent research has suggested that Montana’s good fortune could change. According to one study, between 2011 and 2017, Montana’s average auto insurance premium rose by 64% — the largest increase in the nation.

This is due in part to the high cost of auto repairs in the state. Montana has the fourth-highest average repair cost per claim in the nation: Expect to pay about $3,218 per claim to get your vehicle repaired in Montana, compared to the nationwide average of $2,588. Insurers pass this additional cost onto drivers in the form of higher premiums.

The only way to proceed is to make sure you’re adequately protected. Make sure you purchase enough liability coverage, and don’t forget collision and comprehensive coverage for your vehicle — your lender will require it if you have a lease or loan on the car, but it’s a good idea even if you own your vehicle. If you decline this coverage, repair costs will be entirely out of pocket. You may also want to look into endorsements that deal specifically with auto repairs, like Liberty Mutual’s new and better car replacement and its lifetime repair guarantee. These will raise your premiums slightly, but they could end up saving you if you do get into an accident.

Billings, MT, is a hotspot for auto theft

If you live in Billings, you may find your insurance rates are well above the state average. This is due in part to the many auto thefts that take place there each year. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Billings is the tenth most popular spot for auto theft in the country, with over 877 vehicles stolen in 2016.

If you drive one of the most commonly stolen vehicles in Montana, your rates could be even higher:

  • Chevrolet Pickup (Full-Size)
  • Ford Pickup (Full-Size)
  • Dodge Pickup (Full-Size)
  • Honda Accord
  • GMC Pickup (Full-Size)
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Honda Civic
  • Ford Explorer
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Chevrolet Pickup (Small Size)

If you can, it’s best to install an anti-theft device on your vehicle — especially if you own one of the models above. This will not only deter thieves, but it can also earn you a discount on your insurance premium. It’s also wise to invest in comprehensive coverage, which pays to replace your vehicle if it is stolen and not recovered.

Montana suffers from high vehicle-deer collision rates

While Montana’s low population density decreases the risk of colliding with other vehicles, it also has its drawbacks. According to the International Insurance Institute, Montana sees the second-most deer-vehicle collisions in the nation. You have a 1 in 58 shot at a close encounter with a deer, elk, or moose every time you set out on Montana’s roads, and the risk has climbed by 9% in 2018 alone.

It’s important to drive carefully and always watch out for wildlife, but beyond that, adequate insurance protection is critical. Most people don’t realize that collision coverage only pays for accidents involving another vehicle; if you hit a deer, you’ll need to rely on comprehensive coverage.

Montana Auto Insurance FAQ

What are average auto insurance rates in Montana?

The average per year for auto insurance in Montana is definitely on the low side — $864, as compared to the national average of $1,009. While the price is right, the steep cost of car repairs in Montana means that those insurance premiums are slated to rise. Protect yourself both from mechanic bills and weighty premiums by shopping around for an insurance company that offers plenty of workable discounts alongside extensive coverage.

How much auto insurance do you need?

While it’s tempting to save money with bare minimum coverage, the cost of even a minor car accident can add up quickly, let alone a more serious one. The safest course of action is to purchase as much auto insurance coverage as you can afford. Every Montana driver has unique circumstances and needs, so shopping around for a strong policy at a good rate needs to include gathering a wide range of quotes. Shop around extensively before you buy and regularly review your policy once you’ve secured it to make sure it’s protecting you in the ways you want and that you are taking advantage of every applicable discount.

The Best Montana Auto Insurance: Summed Up

Travelers
Farmers
The Hartford
Liberty Mutual
EMC Insurance
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating
A
A
A+
A
A
J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Score
3/5
3/5
4/5
2/5
N/A
Consumer Reports Reader Score
90/100
89/100
90/100
88/100
N/A