The costs of uninsured motorists are big. A lack of coverage can land the driver large fines or a stint behind bars, and even insufficient coverage can result in significant financial headaches.
In addition, accidents involving uninsured and underinsured motorists cost drivers and insurance companies millions of dollars every year; as those who legally insure their vehicles essentially pay the cost of the uninsured drivers and the policies they should be carrying through higher premiums.
Here are three things to keep in mind to keep in getting auto coverage:
- Know the Numbers
Montana law requires that a motor vehicle operated on public roads be insured by a liability insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum coverage limits:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident.
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two people in any one accident.
- $20,000 for injury or destruction of property incurred by others in any one accident.
- Strongly Consider More Coverage
The minimum is the minimum. Often in an accident, you’d benefit from having more coverage, says Pam Hansen Alfred, a State Farm agent in Great Falls.
“Every state has different limits of liability that a person needs to cover in order to comply with the law,” she says. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that those limits are adequate.”
For example, she says, most states require a personal property damage of at least $15,000. “But there are so many vehicles out there, and most of them are worth more than $15,000,” Hansen Alfred says. “If you hit a suburban and did more than $25,000 worth of damage to it and you were only carrying the state minimum limit of $15,000, you would have to come up with $10,000 out of your pocket.”
Having more coverage is even more important when talking bodily injury liability, she says. “If your state only required $25,000 worth of bodily injury liability coverage, but you cause an accident and there’s $600,000 in injuries — which is pretty easy to do with today’s medical costs and loss of income — you are going to have to pay the rest out of your net worth,” she says. “Your liability really should match your net worth so that if you’re negligent in an accident and someone sues you for everything you’re worth, they just take your policy and not your assets.”
- Consequences for Being Uninsured are Serious
Not having insurance can put a real hurting on your pocketbook and even land you behind bars.
Driving without car insurance in Montana is a misdemeanor, the penalty for which is $250-$500 or up to 10 days for a first offense. For a second offense the penalty is a minimum $350 fine or 10 days in jail with your driver license revoked for 90 days and 5 points added to your driving record. A third conviction is punished with a $500 fine and/or up to six months in jail.
Pam Hansen Alfred’s office at 2817 10th Avenue South in Great Falls provides auto, home, business, property, life and health insurance. The Great Falls native has been a State Farm agent since 1986, and has a team ready discuss your coverage needs at 406-453-6010 or 800-823-3620. Visit PamHansenAlfred.com/ for more information.
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