Auto Insurance Basics

Best Auto Insurance Rates in Montana (2017)

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As in real estate, location is a major factor in calculating auto insurance costs in the Big Sky Country too. We analyzed auto insurance quotes across 36 cities in Montana for a typical driver as a benchmark and compared those rates across companies and cities to figure out who had the cheapest rates. Our comparison found that quotes could range by about $2,777, with the cheapest rates being 76% lower than the most expensive. Missoula had the best rates for auto insurance in Montana at about $1,413 (13% better than the state average). While it's harder for Montanians to move locations, it's much easier to switch companies to save on insurance costs. Read more below, or input your zip above to begin comparison shopping for great auto insurance quotes in Montana.

Cheapest Auto Insurance in Montana

Our analysis incorporated quotes from several national and regional insurance providers for one sample driver: a single 30-year-old man. We then compared the average quotes by insurer across the entire state using our guy as a benchmark. Here's who we found to have the least expensive auto insurance rates in Montana: 

This graph shows which companies were most affordable for car insurance for Montana in 2017.

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GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, and Farmers Union were the four companies with the cheapest rates for car insurance in Montana. Our single 30 year old saw average rates of $1,016 for a basic liability policy among the four carriers, which was $608 or about 37% lower than the statewide average across 36 cities.

Cheapest Car Insurance in Montana: by City

The table below shows the companies with the three cheapest rates in each Montana city. Note that GEICO dominated as the company with the best rates in all of the cities we looked at. To keep the list broadly applicable to the general population, we're showing the next best companies, which feature State Farm, GEICO, and Progressive in various orders. These rates are based on the mean quotes we received for our sample single male driver across eight companies in the state for 36 locations.

CityCompanyYearly Rate
BelgradeGEICO$808
Progressive$912
State Farm$1,020
BigforkGEICO$877
Progressive$991
State Farm$1,140
BillingsGEICO$871
Farmers Union$936
Progressive$968
BozemanGEICO$808
Progressive$912
State Farm$1,020
BrowningState Farm$972
GEICO$978
Progressive$1,037
ButteGEICO$870
Progressive$934
Farmers Union$1,116
ChesterState Farm$972
GEICO$978
Progressive$999
ChoteauProgressive$950
State Farm$972
GEICO$978
Columbia FallsGEICO$877
Progressive$999
State Farm$1,140
ConradProgressive$969
State Farm$972
GEICO$978
Cut BankState Farm$972
GEICO$978
Progressive$987
EurekaGEICO$877
Progressive$1,030
State Farm$1,140
GlasgowState Farm$972
GEICO$978
Progressive$1,027
GlendiveGEICO$934
Progressive$967
State Farm$972
Great FallsGEICO$804
Progressive$898
State Farm$972
HamiltonGEICO$808
Progressive$934
State Farm$1,020
HavreState Farm$972
Progressive$976
GEICO$978
HelenaGEICO$772
Progressive$885
State Farm$936
KalispellGEICO$877
Progressive$991
State Farm$1,140
LaurelGEICO$871
Progressive$916
Farmers Union$948
LewistownGEICO$934
State Farm$972
Progressive$977
LibbyGEICO$877
Progressive$1,027
State Farm$1,140
LivingstonGEICO$808
Progressive$934
State Farm$1,020
Miles CityGEICO$934
Progressive$950
State Farm$972
MissoulaGEICO$804
Progressive$898
State Farm$1,008
PlainsGEICO$877
Progressive$1,008
State Farm$1,140
PolsonGEICO$877
Progressive$961
State Farm$1,140
Red LodgeGEICO$934
State Farm$972
Progressive$1,053
ShelbyState Farm$972
GEICO$978
Progressive$990
SidneyGEICO$934
State Farm$972
Progressive$973
StevensvilleGEICO$808
Progressive$958
State Farm$1,020
Thompson FallsGEICO$877
Progressive$1,023
State Farm$1,140
TownsendGEICO$808
Progressive$946
State Farm$1,020
West YellowstoneGEICO$808
Progressive$929
State Farm$1,020
WhitefishGEICO$877
Progressive$981
State Farm$1,140
Wolf PointGEICO$934
State Farm$972
Progressive$981

Billings, MT

The largest city in Montana, Billings ranks third in our roundup of cities with the most affordable car insurance in the state. Lewis and Clark passed through the Billings area during their expedition and carved their names into Pompeys Pillar, which was later designated a national historic landmark. The city had colorful beginnings, with several saloons and no churches. In recent times, the city has seen development of its downtown area with the influx of companies such as GE, Wells Fargo, and First Interstate Bank establishing offices here. The average premium in Billings was $1,526 for our sample drivers – 6% lower than the state average.  

Drivers looking for the cheapest auto insurance quotes in Billings should include GEICO, Farmers Union, Progressive, and State Farm. These four companies quoted an average cost of $949 for an annual policy, which saved our sample driver 38% compared to what the typical insurer charged in Billings. Allied rounds out the top five most affordable companies.

Here in this graph are the five companies in Billings with the best car insurance rates based on our analysis of quotes in the city: GEICO, Farmers Union, Progressive, State Farm, and Allied.

Missoula, MT

The second most populous city in Montana is also the most affordable for auto insurance, with an annual premium averaging $1,413. That figure beats the state mean by 13%. Missoula is home to the University of Montana. The city was founded in 1860 as a trading post and its mills provided supplies to travelers journeying further west. Lumbering and the state university served as the biggest driving forces of the economy until the 1990s, when the lumber industry contracted. Missoula is home to Montana’s oldest and most active breweries, such as the Bayern Brewery.

In Missoula, GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied had the best rates. In aggregate, these companies quoted rates on average of $974 - $552 less per year compared to the Billings mean. Rates for our single 30 year old man - no accidents or tickets - in particular, were best at GEICO, which beat out Progressive as the insurer with the best rates by $94 a year.

This graph identifies which companies had the cheapest auto insurance quotes for our sample driver's car in Missoula.

Great Falls, MT

For the best car insurance rates in Great Falls, we suggest drivers take a look at GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied. Based on our sample driver, rates to insure a vehicle with basic liability protection cost with the five most affordable insurance companies in Great Falls average about $1,039 a year, which represented a 34% reduction versus what the typical company charged here. The cheapest auto insurer by far in Great Falls was GEICO. Known as Electric City, Great Falls is located near a handful of hydroelectric dams. You can find both the 96 feet high Great Falls of Missouri along with 200 feet of the world's shortest river - Roe River - here in Great Falls. Drivers have access to nearly 400 miles of well-identified roads in the city, which has about 12,000 street signs.

Ranked in this chart are the five carriers that had the lowest premiums for our sample driver's car in Great Falls.

Bozeman, MT

Who has the cheapest car insurance in Bozeman? GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied - those would be the short list of companies that we'd recommend drivers here start with. Among these five companies, rates for our sample single man and his Toyota Camry were about $1,014 a year. At this level, rates were $526, or 34% cheaper than the citywide average a year. Paleontologists and dinosaur fans alike will find a number of fossils and standing skeletons at the Siebel Dinosaur Complex in Bozeman's Museum of the Rockies. It's said that the MOR's chief paleontologist Jack Horner served as the inspiration for a character in Jurassic Park.

This chart ranks the cheapest companies in Bozeman, MT based on the average auto insurance cost charged to our driver living here.

Butte, MT

We found the best rates in Butte at GEICO, Progressive, Farmers Union, State Farm, and Allied. In total, premiums to insure a vehicle with liability coverage among these cheap carriers ranged from $870 to $1,392, and averaged $1,100 a year. Mean rates among these top five companies were 35% cheaper compared to what the typical Butte insurer charged in the city, and just shy of $300 less in dollar amounts. Butte is Montana's 5th most populous city with 40,000 residents. Its development was accelerated by the discovery of the city's rich deposits of silver and copper, which led to Butte getting named "the richest hill on earth". 

This graph displays the five best quotes and the companies that our driver living in Butte found for his car.

Helena, MT

Helena is the capital city of the Big Sky State. It also happens to rank fourth in the state for affordable car insurance. Drivers can purchase auto insurance here for 6% less than the state mean, at $1,527. Located in Lewis and Clark County, Helena is famed for its outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, and mountain biking. The city was founded at the height of the California gold rush, when prospectors discovered gold there.

For low-cost car insurance quotes, we suggest that Helena drivers include GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied in their shortlist of cheap companies. Our sample drivers found rates among these three carriers that were a good 37% cheaper on average compared to the citywide mean - that's a good $569 back in drivers' pockets from comparing costs.

Based on our quote comparison, this graph identifies the five insurers with the best and lowest auto insurance quotes on average for our male driver.

Laurel, MT

Laurel was also founded during the gold rush when settlers began making their homes in the city in the late 1800s. In recent years, the major employers in Laurel are Cenex Harvest States oil refinery and the school district. Yellowstone National Park and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument are two national landmarks that are just a short day trip away from Laurel. In Laurel, the average premium is $1,512 – 7% more favorable than the state average. When it comes to inexpensive auto insurance in Laurel, we would advise drivers to check out quotes from GEICO, Progressive, Farmers Union, State Farm, and Allied. With mean rates of $993, these five carriers were 34% more affordable compared to the city.

In this chart, we've displayed the five companies that beat others out with the lowest average annual car insurance rates.

Townsend, MT

Lewis and Clark passed through Townsend, our fifth-ranked cheapest city, during their famed trip in 1805. It was founded in the 1860s by settlers looking for gold, and is unofficially the first city established on the Missouri River. Today, the city is located in Broadwater County, and is a short 35-mile drive from the state capital of Montana. Driving in Townsend will cost motorists an average of $1,532 in auto insurance, which beats the mean by 6%. Drivers looking to save even more on their insurance costs should consider checking out how much their quotes would be from GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied. These were the five companies our sample drivers got the cheapest quotes from. In aggregate, the five companies saved our 30-year old male policyholder 33%, or $509 with a little bit of comparison shopping.

This graph shows which companies ranked with the five cheapest annual premiums for our male Townsend driver's car.

Kalispell, MT

The small city of Kalispell, meaning “flat land above the lake”, ranks as our most expensive city in the state with an average cost of $1,683 – 4% less favorable than the state mean. Kalispell's fertile soils have been the site of one of Montana's last mint farms, Passmore Farms. The city's commuters are served by a network of highways, such as U.S. Routes 2 and 93. Where do Kalispell drivers find the best rates for car insurance? Our sample drivers looked at eight companies for quotes, and found the cheapest ones at GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied. 

Our Kalispell driver found his lowest quotes at the five insurance companies identified in this graph.

Columbia Falls, MT

Located in the northwestern Flathead County, Columbia Falls takes the twenty-seventh spot in our roundup of thirty-six cities with the most expensive average rates. When the city was first founded in the late 19th century, it was a site of logging and agriculture, with several mills and farms operating in the area. Today, the city has about 4,700 residents and is fairly densely populated, which contributes to higher than average premiums. Rates in Columbia Falls cost on average 4% more than the state mean. The average premium is $1,682. When it comes to low-cost insurance in Columbia Falls, we'd recommend residents take a look at quotes from GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied. These five carriers' annual premiums in Columbia Falls averaged about 33% or $556 cheaper versus than what the typical insurer would charge.

This graph shows which companies won with the least expensive auto insurance premiums in our Columbia Falls driver's quote comparison.

Lewistown, MT

Lewistown ranks second on our list of most expensive cities in Montana for auto insurance with an average cost of $1,737, which is 7% costlier than the state mean. The city is located in Fergus County, in the center of Montana, and was founded in 1882 during the gold rush. Lewistown is home to the annual Chokecherry Festival, which includes a chokecherry cooking competition, a pit spitting contest, and a 5k run. If any drivers are looking for affordable rates for their car insurance, our data suggests that GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, Farmers Union, and Allied have some of the lower quotes. Annual premiums from these five companies ranged from $934 to $1,392 for our sample profile for a single thirty year old male (who had great driving records). Our drivers found that on average, rates among these five companies were a $1,100 a year for basic liability protection - which shaved off 37% or $637 from the Lewistown mean.

Drivers in Lewistown looking for the best rates should start with the five companies displayed in this graph.

Whitefish, MT

Located in Flathead County, Whitefish was founded when the path of the Great Northern Railway was built through the small settlement in 1904. That transportation heritage is continued today through the historic Whitefish Depot, which is the busiest station on the Amtrak Empire Builder line. Among the city's attractions are its famous ski resort, and the World Indoor Golf Championship, which Whitefish has hosted for over 16 years. At $1,659, the average cost of car insurance in the city is 2% less favorable than the state mean. Drivers in Whitefish can still save more with a bit of comparison shopping. Our sample driver found his best rates at GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers Union, and Allied.

This graph compares the average annual quotes for the five cheapest car insurers against the city average to show Whitefish drivers where they can save.

Red Lodge, MT

Red Lodge rounds off our list of the most expensive cities for auto insurance with an average annual rate of $1,742 – 7% more expensive than the state average. The city is well known for its access to outdoor sports and recreation, including skiing, mountain biking, and backpacking. Every April, Red Lodge hosts the running portion of the Peaks to Prairie triathlon. While costs are higher than the state average, individual drivers don't have to pay this much. Those who are interested in low cost quotes for their car insurance should try getting quotes from one of these five companies: GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, Farmers Union, and Allied. The rates for the remaining three companies still offerred our sample drivers in Red Lodge a sizeable discount, however, of about $627 or 36% on average.

Here are the five companies with the lowest car insurance rates in Red Lodge: GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, Farmers Union and Allied.

Average Cost of Auto Insurance by City

There were a total of 37 cities surveyed in our auto insurance study in Montana, including the top five cities cheapest and most expensive ones highlighted above. We present below in graph form the total list of cities, ranked from cheapest to the most expensive based on the benchmark average rate for our sample driver.

This chart compares and contrasts the average annual rates our drivers living in each city saw from different insurers.

Best Auto Insurance Companies in Montana

To find Montana's best rated car insurance companies, we calculated the complaint index for the largest companies who had at least $10 million in premiums. The index compares a company’s complaints and premiums to the industry’s complaints and premiums statewide. With this metric, we can infer how satisfied consumers are based on the amount of complaints of each provider receives while accounting for its size. An index of 1 is average, so the lower the number, the better the company is compared to its competitors (the lower its percentage of complaints relative to its business). This analysis indicates that Progressive, USAA, Travelers, Farmers and State Farm ranked as the best car insurance companies in Montana.

Auto Insurance Company Premiums Written # of Complaints Complaint Index
Progressive $72,523,520 1 0.03
USAA 37,400,904 3 0.15
Travelers 11,309,481 1 0.16
Farmers 57,627,834 6 0.19
State Farm 132,625,848 18 0.25
Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual 37,961,351 6 0.29
GEICO 28,607,757 6 0.39
Safeco 65,330,444 15 0.43
QBE Insurance 19,365,295 5 0.48
Allstate 28,609,819 11 0.71
Hartford 25,370,464 12 0.88

How We Conducted the Study

We looked at rates in Montana for one sample driver in more than 36 cities within the state: a single 30 year old male. He owns his vehicle and drives a 2011 Toyota Camry back and forth from work, for the most part, about 12,000 miles a year. They also have good credit history and a great driving record with no accidents or traffic violations in the past five years.

Costs are based on basic liability protection for the 2011 Toyota Camry, and provides about twice the minimum liability required in Montana. Montana requires minimum auto insurance liability of $25,000 per person for bodily injury protection and up to $50,000 per accident, and $10,000 for property damage per accident. The state doesn’t require uninsured motorist coverage, but requires that insurance companies offered as part of liability coverage. Drivers have the option of declining this coverage in writing. We included national insurers such as GEICO, Allstate, and State Farm in our study.

Individual consumers' quotes will differ from the annual premiums above, which are for illustrative purposes. Quotes will depend on each driver's particular circumstances, desired liability limits, vehicles, and exact location.

Insurance Coverage Montana Minimum Coverage Study Coverage
Bodily Injury (BI) (per person / per accident) $25,000 / $50,000 $50,000 / $100,000
Property Damage (PD) 10,000 25,000
Uninsured Motorist BI (per person / per accident) Optional 50,000 / 100,000
Uninsured Motorist PD Optional 25,000

The table below shows which cities were included in our Montana premium comparison in alphabetical order. We've also displayed the average annual premiums from our sample drivers that was used to benchmark the cities, along with their average change versus the Montana mean.

RankCityAverage Annual PremiumChange vs State
8Belgrade1553-4%
26Bigfork16703%
3Billings1526-6%
6Bozeman1540-5%
25Browning16683%
29Butte16924%
20Chester16300%
15Choteau1600-1%
27Columbia Falls16824%
13Conrad1590-2%
18Cut Bank1614-1%
9Eureka1572-3%
33Glasgow17256%
30Glendive16995%
10Great Falls1578-3%
7Hamilton1544-5%
35Havre17317%
4Helena1527-6%
28Kalispell16824%
2Laurel1512-7%
36Lewistown17377%
23Libby16522%
12Livingston1589-2%
31Miles City17196%
1Missoula1413-13%
16Plains1605-1%
21Polson16310%
37Red Lodge17427%
17Shelby1605-1%
32Sidney17236%
14Stevensville1596-2%
22Thompson Falls16361%
5Townsend1532-6%
11West Yellowstone1578-3%
24Whitefish16592%
34Wolf Point17276%

Sources:

Minimum Liability Insurance Limits in Montana: https://dojmt.gov/driving/insurance-and-verification/
Montana Census Population: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/30000.html
Image Courtesy of [email protected] / Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/8WFdZ4

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