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Even basic insurance can keep Montana drivers from financial ruin

Under Montana law, all operators of motor vehicles must have insurance. Although self-insurance is theoretically possible for any vehicle owner, it is a complicated option that essentially requires someone to legally verify that they have deep pockets. There is an easier way to satisfy the state's legal requirement that a driver have a way to pay for the financial consequences of a car accident: liability auto insurance.

Buying an insurance policy offers some financial protections for both the driver and anyone else involved in an accident with that driver. Montana state law has established minimum coverages for injuries, deaths and property damage: $25,000 for one person's injury or death, $50,000 for two or more persons' injury or death and $10,000 for property damage. These help pay for claims by those injured or the families of those killed for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. The minimum, however, will not pay the driver who causes an accident and is injured or suffers vehicular damage. In other words, this basic level of insurance only pays for liabilities to other motorists. This is why many insurance experts recommend additional coverage that goes beyond that required by the state.

These other insurance policy options include uninsured motorist coverage, collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage only pays a driver who is injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

The penalties for not having an insurance policy can be severe. Every year around the state, uninsured motorists are fined, lose their homes, have their wages garnished and face lawsuits to pay for damages to property and medical expenses suffered by others in accidents they caused. For these reasons, even basic liability insurance can be of great value after an accident and keep a Montana resident from suffering the worst financial consequences.

Source: CSI.MT.gov, "Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance," Accessed on March 25, 2015

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