Montana Warranty Reimbursement State Law


Cliff Notes:

Timeframes for Approval and Reimbursement of Warranty Claims MONT. CODE. ANN. § 61-4-204(5)(a),(b):
• All claims made by the dealer pursuant to this section for compensation for delivery, preparation, warranty, and recall service, including labor, parts, and other expenses, and claims made for incentives must be paid by the manufacturer within 30 days of receipt of the claim from the dealer, except that a manufacturer of a motor home shall pay any claim within 60 days of receipt from the dealer. If a claim is disapproved, the dealer must be notified in writing of the grounds for disapproval. A claim that has not been disapproved in writing within 30 days of having been received must be considered approved, and payment is due to the claimant immediately.

Reimbursement Rate for Parts MONT. CODE ANN. § 61-4-204(4):
• The manufacturer’s product or warranty defect or for delivery and preparation obligations at the same rate and time the dealer charges to its retail customers for non-warranty work of a like-kind, based upon a published, nationally recognized, retail flat-rate labor time guide manual if the dealer uses the manual as the basis for computing charges for both warranty and retail work.

Reimbursement Rate for Labor MONT. CODE ANN. § 61-4-204(4):
• Manufacturer’s product or warranty defect or for delivery and preparation obligations at the same rate and time the dealer charges to its retail customers for non-warranty work of a like-kind, based upon a published, nationally recognized, retail flat-rate labor time guide manual if the dealer uses the manual as the basis for computing charges for both warranty and retail work.

61-4-204. Filing agreement — product liability.

(1) A franchisee shall, at the time of application for a new motor vehicle dealer license under the provisions of 61-4-101, file with the department a certified copy of the franchisee’s written agreement with a manufacturer and a certificate of appointment as dealer or distributor. The certificate of appointment must be signed by an authorized agent of the manufacturer of domestic motor vehicles whenever there is a direct manufacturer dealer agreement or by an authorized agent of the distributor whenever the manufacturer is wholesaling through an appointed distributorship. The certificate must be signed by an authorized agent of the importer of foreign-made vehicles whenever there is a direct importer- dealer agreement or by an authorized agent of the distributor whenever there is an indirect distributor-dealer agreement. The distributor’s certificate of appointment must be signed by an authorized agent of the manufacturer of domestically manufactured motor vehicles or by an authorized agent of the manufacturer or importer of foreign-made motor vehicles.

(2) A franchisee need not file a written agreement or certificate of appointment if the manufacturer on direct dealerships or distributor on indirect dealerships or importer on direct dealerships uses the identical basic agreement for all its franchised dealers or distributors in this state and certifies in the certificate of appointment that the blanket agreement is on file and the written agreement with the particular dealer or distributor, respectively, is identical with the filed blanket agreement and that the franchisee has filed with the department one agreement together with a list of franchised dealers or distributors.

(3) A franchisor shall notify the department within 30 days of any revision of or addition to the basic agreement on file or of any franchise supplement to the agreement. The annual renewal of a certificate filed as provided in this section is not required.

(4) A manufacturer shall file with the department a copy of the delivery and preparation obligations required to be performed by a dealer prior to the delivery of a new motor vehicle to a buyer. These delivery and preparation obligations constitute the dealer’s only responsibility for product liability as between the dealer and the manufacturer. Any mechanical, body, or parts defects arising from an express or implied warranty of the manufacturer constitute the manufacturer’s product or warranty liability only. However, this section may not affect the obligations of new motor vehicle dealers to perform warranty repair and maintenance that may be required by law or contract. Except with regard to household appliances, including but not limited to ranges, refrigerators, and water heaters, in a recreational vehicle and except with regard to a truck rated at more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, the manufacturer shall compensate an authorized dealer for labor, parts, and other expenses incurred by a dealer who performs work to rectify the manufacturer’s product or warranty defect or for delivery and preparation obligations at the same rate and time the dealer charges to its retail customers for non-warranty work of a like-kind, based upon a published, nationally recognized, retail flat-rate labor time guide manual if the dealer uses the manual as the basis for computing charges for both warranty and retail work.

(5) (a) All claims made by the dealer pursuant to this section for compensation for delivery, preparation, warranty, and recall service, including labor, parts, and other expenses and claims made for incentives must be paid by the manufacturer within 30 days of receipt of the claim from the dealer, except that a manufacturer of a motor home shall pay any claim within 60 days of receipt from the dealer.

(b) If a claim is disapproved, the dealer must be notified in writing of the grounds for disapproval. A claim that has not been disapproved in writing within 30 days of having been received must be considered approved, and payment is due to the claimant immediately. However, the manufacturer retains the right to audit a claim for a period of 12 months following the payment of the claim.

(c) A claim that has been approved and paid may not be charged back to the dealer unless the manufacturer proves that:
(i) the claim was false or fraudulent;
(ii) the repairs were not properly made, or
(iii) the repairs were not necessary to correct the defective condition.

(d) A manufacturer may not deny a claim or reduce the amount to be reimbursed to the dealer if the dealer has provided reasonably sufficient documentation demonstrating that the dealer performed the services in compliance with the written policies and procedures of the manufacturer. A manufacturer may not deny a claim based solely on a dealer’s incidental failure to comply with a specific claim processing requirement, such as a clerical error or other administrative technicality that does not put into question the legitimacy of the claim.

(6) Notwithstanding the terms of any agreement, the franchisor may not refuse to allocate, sell, or deliver motor vehicles, may not penalize a dealer, may not chargeback or withhold payments or other things of value for which the dealer is otherwise eligible under a sales promotion, program, or contest, and may not prevent the dealer from participating in any promotion, program, or contest based on the dealer’s selling of a motor vehicle to a customer who was present at the dealership and that the dealer did not know or could not have reasonably known that the motor vehicle would be shipped to a foreign country. There is a rebuttable presumption that the dealer did not know or could not have reasonably known that the vehicle would be shipped to a foreign country if the motor vehicle is titled in the United States.

(7) A franchisor may not recover or seek to recover any of its costs for compensating a dealer for warranty work, including labor and parts, or for the dealer’s participation in incentives by imposing on the dealer any charge or surcharge to the wholesale price paid by the dealer to the franchisor for any product, including motor vehicles and parts.

(8) A franchisor may reasonably and periodically audit a motor vehicle dealer to determine the validity of paid claims or charge-backs for customer or dealer incentives.

(9) A dealer has 60 days from the date of notification by a manufacturer of a denial or a charge-back to the dealer to resubmit a claim for payment or compensation if the claim was denied for a dealer’s incidental failure as set forth in subsection (5)(d), regardless of whether the denial or charge-back was a direct or an indirect transaction.

(10) A dealer has 90 days after the expiration of a franchisor incentive program, or a longer time if provided by the franchise agreement, to submit a claim for payment or compensation under the program.

(11) Notwithstanding the terms of a franchise agreement or other contract with a dealer and except as provided in subsection (5)(c), after the expiration of 1 year after the date of payment of a motor vehicle claim or 1 year from the end of a program that does not exceed 1 year in length, whichever is later, a franchisor may not:
(a) chargeback to a dealer, whether directly or indirectly, the amount of a claim that has been approved and paid by the franchisor under an incentive program;
(b) chargeback to a dealer, whether directly or indirectly, the cash value of a prize or other thing of value awarded to the dealer under an incentive program;or
(c) audit the records of a dealer to determine compliance with the terms of an incentive program.

(12) Subsection (11) does not prohibit a franchisor from making charge-backs to a dealer for fraud at any time as permitted by subsection(5)(c).

(13) The dealer shall furnish the purchaser of a new motor vehicle with a signed copy of the manufacturer’s delivery and preparation requirements indicating that each of those requirements has been performed.

History: En. 51-604 by Sec. 4, Ch. 380, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 51-604(1) thru (3), (5), (6); amd. Sec. 2, Ch.431, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 503, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 229, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 313, L. 1999;amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 384, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 172, Ch. 542, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 54, Ch. 329, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 308, L.2009.