Last Updated: February 16, 2024, 1:14 pm by TRUiC Team

Insuring Your Car Under a Montana LLC: What You Need to Know

You've registered your vehicle under a Montana LLC, but now, you're left with one question: how do you insure it? 

In this guide, we’ll show you step-by-step what you need to consider and the actions you need to take to ensure your vehicle is properly insured.

Understanding Montana LLCs

As the name suggests, a Montana LLC is a limited liability company established in the state of Montana. LLCs are a business structure that provides its owners (known as members) protection from personal liability. This means that if the LLC incurs debt or is sued, members' personal assets are usually not at risk.

What makes Montana unique for vehicle purchases is its lack of sales tax. Unlike most states, when you buy a vehicle in Montana, you aren't required to pay any additional money as sales tax. This can lead to substantial savings, especially when purchasing high-value vehicles. For example, a car that costs $100,000 would incur $6,000 in sales tax in a state with a 6% sales tax rate. In Montana, you'd save that amount.

Some people choose to form an LLC in Montana solely for the purpose of buying a vehicle. The LLC, as a Montana resident, purchases and registers the vehicle, thereby avoiding sales tax.

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers free Montana registered agent services with LLC formation ($29 plus state fees).

Challenges of Insuring Your Vehicle

The path to saving sales tax through a Montana LLC isn't without its challenges, which often come in the form of insurance. Some insurance companies may be hesitant to provide coverage for your vehicle if it's used predominantly outside of Montana. Here's why:

  • Insurance Fraud Concerns: Insurance companies are wary of practices that could be perceived as deceitful. They could view registering your vehicle in a state where you do not live as a form of insurance fraud.
  • Coverage Implications: If you have an accident in another state, your insurance provider might refuse to cover the costs, citing that the vehicle is not primarily used in the state it's insured in. This could leave you with hefty out-of-pocket expenses for repairs and damages - potentially much more than what you saved on sales tax.

How to Get Coverage for Your Vehicle

Despite the potential challenges associated with insuring a vehicle registered under a Montana LLC, there are ways to ensure you are adequately covered. Here are some comprehensive steps you can take to navigate this process:

Choose the Right Agent

Choosing the right insurance agent is the first critical step. Remember that not all insurance agents are equal.

Insurance brokers have in-depth knowledge of the insurance market and access to a wide network of insurance companies. They can help you find a provider willing to insure your Montana LLC-registered vehicle, even if it's predominantly used out of state.

Brokers can also guide you through the complexities of different policies, helping you understand the coverage, exclusions, and any state-specific requirements. Their expertise can be invaluable in finding a policy tailored to your unique situation.

If your vehicle is high value, you should find an agent who understands the nuances of insuring high-value vehicles. They should be familiar with the market trends, the risks involved, and how to best protect your investment.

Use an Insurance Agent Licensed in Multiple States

Given the complexity of insuring a vehicle registered in one state but primarily used in another, it can be beneficial to work with an insurance agent licensed in multiple states. These agents have a broad understanding of insurance laws across different states and can help you find an insurance provider and policy that meets your specific needs.

An agent licensed in multiple states can also guide you through the nuances of your policy, ensure that you have the right coverage for your situation, and help you navigate any claims or issues that arise. This can provide peace of mind and ensure that you're covered, no matter where you're driving your vehicle.

Be Transparent

It's crucial to be transparent with your insurance company right from the start. Disclose that your vehicle is registered under a Montana LLC but will be used predominantly in another state. While this may result in a slightly higher premium, it ensures that you are abiding by the rules and maintaining the integrity of your coverage.

Misrepresenting the facts can lead to denial of coverage when you need it the most. For instance, if you have an accident and your insurance company discovers that your vehicle is mostly used outside of Montana, they may refuse to cover the damages.

Understand Your Policy

Once you've found the right agent and have been transparent about your situation, it's time to dive into your policy. Here's what you should look out for:

  • Keep Your Policy Up to Date: Pay your premiums on time: If you don't, your insurance could be canceled. 
  • Policy Type: Ensure your policy covers the use of a vehicle registered under an LLC. This is different from a regular individual policy and may sometimes be closer to a commercial policy in terms of structure.
  • Coverage: High-value cars usually require more extensive coverage. Check that your policy covers the full value of the car and includes comprehensive and collision coverage. Make sure your coverage still meets your needs. If it doesn't, contact your insurance company to adjust it.
  • Location: Even though your car is registered in Montana, if you're using it predominantly in another state, the insurance policy should reflect that. Make sure your policy covers out-of-state usage.
  • Changes: Report any changes to your insurance company: If you get a new vehicle, sell a vehicle, or make other changes, let your insurance company know.

With the right agent, transparency, and an understanding of your policy, you can navigate this process successfully.

Consider Alternative Options

While registering a vehicle under a Montana LLC can offer significant sales tax savings, it might not be the best solution for everyone. If the insurance obstacles seem too complex or costly, consider exploring other options.

For instance, some states offer tax incentives for businesses, including reduced sales tax on vehicles used for business purposes. You could also consider leasing a vehicle, which often includes insurance in the monthly cost and spreads the financial burden over time.

Other Considerations for Montana LLC Vehicles

While the general rule is to insure the vehicle in the state of use, there are special considerations when the vehicle is registered under a Montana LLC.

  • Commercial Insurance: In some cases, you might need to consider getting a commercial insurance policy. This is because the vehicle is technically owned by the LLC (a business entity) and not an individual. This type of policy often includes coverage for multiple states, which could be beneficial if you use the vehicle in several states.
  • Specialty Insurance Carriers: Some insurance carriers specialize in out-of-state and Montana LLC insurance policies. These carriers are well-versed in the complexities of insuring a vehicle registered to a Montana LLC and can guide you through the process, ensuring your vehicle is properly covered no matter where you use it.

Montana Insurance Verification System

Montana has its own insurance verification system to ensure that all registered vehicles have at least the minimum required insurance coverage. The Montana Insurance Verification System (MTIVS) allows law enforcement officers and county treasurers to verify the insurance status of any vehicle registered in Montana.

If you have a vehicle registered under a Montana LLC, you will need to make sure that you maintain the required insurance coverage to stay compliant with Montana's laws. If your insurance coverage lapses, you could face fines or suspension of your vehicle registration.

Bottom Line

Registering a vehicle under a Montana LLC can save you a considerable sum on sales tax, but it's important to remember that this could lead to complications with your insurance coverage. Prior to making your decision, weigh the potential risks against the benefits. Ensure you have appropriate insurance coverage to protect you, regardless of where you drive your vehicle.

It's essential to insure your vehicle in the state where it's used and stored the most, not just where it's registered. If your vehicle is registered to a Montana LLC, it's important to work with an insurance carrier familiar with this situation to ensure you get the appropriate coverage. Always remember to be transparent about your situation with your insurance agent to avoid any complications down the line.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, personal insurance only covers vehicles owned by individuals. Your LLC needs its own policy.

No, your LLC's vehicle can be insured in Montana even if you live in another state. Just make sure to tell the insurance company that the vehicle is registered in Montana.

Montana law requires all vehicles to have insurance. If you're caught without it, you could be fined, or your vehicle could be impounded.

Insurance policies are typically linked to the state where the vehicle is primarily used and stored rather than the state where the vehicle is registered. This means that even though your vehicle is registered under a Montana LLC if you are primarily using and storing the vehicle in another state, you would need to insure the vehicle in that state.