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As you are aware, if you own a vehicle and drive it, it needs to be insured. See Mont. Code Ann 61-8-301.  But with so many different policy options and insurance carriers out there, how should you go about choosing which policy is best for you?

Mont. Code Ann. 61-6-103 dictates policy minimum limits, so before you even consider purchasing the cheapest option out there, read through the policy and confirm that it is in compliance with Montana law.  These limits are:

  • (i) $25,000 because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident and subject to the limit for one person;
  • (ii) $50,000 because of bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one accident; and
  • (iii) $20,000 because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.

Next, consider what you are getting for your money. Are you purchasing the bare minimum policy?  Are there exclusions carved out in the policy that allows your insurance to deny coverage for violations of traffic laws or intentional acts?  Make sure you are protected.

As a personal injury attorney who deals with car accident and insurance claims on a regular basis, I highly recommend purchasing the following additional coverages to be purchased in every auto policy:

–          Bodily Injury and Property Damage Limits as high as possible with umbrella coverage:  If you are in any type of significant automobile accident, chances are it will cause property damage exceeding $20,000 and bodily injury exceeding $25,000 per person simply due to the high cost of treatment and vehicle repairs.  This fact illuminates why it is so important to pay coverage for as high of an amount as possible.  Often, you may be able to raise your deductible as a trade off for higher coverage or pay higher premiums.  This is so much more preferable than a policy that only covers the minimum amount outlined under state law.  Being underinsured puts you at a high risk for financial troubles.

–          Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Because many Montanans choose to not comply with the financial responsibility laws of the state or to go with minimal coverage, it is important to add this to the policy.  Every Montana insurance policy must automatically contain this coverage unless a written waiver is signed at the time of purchase.

–          Medical Payments Coverage: This will cover your own medical treatment costs (as well as passengers) in the event of an accident and would supplement your health insurance and other coverages.  Oftentimes, the carrier demands subrogation if you receive payment from another person’s insurance but, this would keep you from paying out of pocket while your claim is pending.

Deciding on an insurance policy is difficult, but do not be hasty to choose the cheapest option available, because it could very well cost you in the long run.  If you have been involved in an accident and are having a difficult time getting your insurance company to pay their fair share, contact the attorneys at Bryan, diStefano & Mattingley, PLLP.  They are well versed in all aspects of insurance litigation and would be happy to set up a free consultation to discuss your potential case.