Just like the rest of the United States, Washington car insurance quotes should always offer policies with at least the minimum amount of coverage required. You can learn more about these requirements below. Just make sure you never buy a policy from a company that is willing to offer less than the minimum amount of required coverage.
You can also find out more about various aspects of how insurance works in Washington state. Laws, rates, companies and quotes are all good things to know about before you decide on your final policy.
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements In Washington
Washington state has fairly standard requirements when it comes to auto insurance. If you own and/or drive a car registered in Washington state or that is supposed to be registered under Chapter 46.16 RCW Vehicle licenses, you’ll need to buy insurance coverage or provide some other means of proving financial responsibility.
The minimum insurance requirements for Washington state are as follows (25/50/10):
- $25,000 of bodily injury or death liability coverage of one person in any one accident.
- $50,000 of bodily injury or death liability coverage of any two or more persons in any one accident.
- $10,000 liability coverage for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.
Now most people choose to purchase insurance coverage, but you can meet your legal requirements for financial responsibility in one of three other ways.
- Providing a certificate of deposit for at least $60,000 with the State Treasurer’s office or in a bank account set up for the state of Washington.
- Providing A liability bond for at least $60,000 from a surety bond company authorized to do business in this state.
- Self-insurance for companies that have 26 or more vehicles.
Now keep in mind all the minimums listed above are just that; minimums. It is a very good idea to purchase much more liability coverage than just the bare minimum as court, accident and medical costs have been rising steeply in recent years. Get in an accident where the costs are above your insurance limits and you’re on the hook for the rest.
Moreover, the Washington State Consumer’s Guide to: Auto Insurance lists many other types of coverage you should strongly consider. This includes but is not limited to:
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury and property damage coverage (required in some states but not Washington);
- Personal injury protection (PIP) (also required in some states but not Washington);
- Collision coverage (for damage to your car in an accident);
- Comprehensive coverage (for damage to your car outside an accident);
- GAP coverage (pays out if your car is declared a total loss);
Washington State Auto Insurance Laws
There are several important things to know about Washington’s auto insurance laws. To start with you should know that auto insurance is mandatory for most vehicles in the state. The current legislation is known as Chapter 46.30 RCW Mandatory liability insurance. Most information you need is included in the legislation in 6 separate sections.
Mandatory auto insurance is not required for the following vehicles but other insurance may be required. It is your responsibility to find out what your insurance requirements are:
- Motorcycles (RCW 46.04.330)
- Motor-driven bicycles or motor scooters (RCW 46.04.332)
- Mopeds (RCW 46.04.304)
- Specially licensed “antique vehicles” over 40 years old and/or “Collector vehicles” more than 30 years old (RCW 46.16.305(1))
- State or publicly-owned vehicles (RCW 46.16.020)
Assuming your car is not in one of the categories above, you are required by state law to carry proof of insurance. If you are stopped by police or other law enforcement officers you must show your insurance card (issued by your insurance company).
Failure to show your insurance card will most likely result in a traffic infraction. This carries a $450 fine that may show up on your driving record. In addition the courts can add fees on top of this to your fine. If you lie about having insurance, including having an expired or canceled policy, you will be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
You should also be aware that insurance companies can cancel your policy under certain situations. However, they must give you 20 days advance notice in writing unless you haven’t paid your premiums in which case only 10 days notice is required. Moreover, when canceling a policy they have to give you the exact reason(s) why.
If an insurer cancels your policy and you have a difficult time finding another one, there is still hope for you. The state of Washington has a hard-to-insure driver insurance program. The program is known as the Washington Automobile Insurance Plan or AIPSO. If you do opt for this kind of coverage you may be required to fill-in and file an SR-22 form.
Finally, it should be noted that like the majority of states, Washington, has fault based insurance. This means those found to have caused an accident have to pay; either through their insurance policy or out-of-pocket if they have insufficient insurance coverage. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being in an accident, you’ll need to know how to file a claim from your insurer.
Washington Car Insurance Companies
There are a whole host of car insurance companies operating in Washington state. You can get a complete list from the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner Company Look-up. At last check there were nearly 2,000 listings on their website (not all active). Yet, there are only a handful of companies that are willing to offer insurance to all Washington drivers (including hard to insure ones) and they are:
Financial Indemnity (part of the Unitrin group)
Average Washington Auto Insurance Rates
Figuring out average Washington car insurance rates depends on the sources you use. The Insurance Information Institute claims that the state was the 16th most expensive in 2008. Average premiums for that year were $840 versus $789 nationwide.
On the other hand, CarInsurance.com claims that average premiums for 2011 are $1,476 per year compared to $1,440 in the US as a whole. Thus, while the numbers are different one trend does emerge. The price you pay in Washington state for car insurance is only slightly higher than the national average.
The truth is that these numbers don’t really matter that much. What you need to think about is what you’re paying. To a large extent this will depend on which type of insurance risk you are seen as being. There are three segments of the insurance market in Washington. They are:
- Preferred market – Only the best drivers get placed in this market. They get the lowest rates, but you need an exceptional and long driving record to get in.
- Standard market – The average or typical driver. Expect average rates. Most drivers in Washington fall in this category.
- Non-standard market – Basically these are considered high risk drivers such as young driver with little to no history, those with DUIs and those with other reckless road violations. Expect high rates and difficulty finding insurance. You may have to use AIPSO to get coverage.
If you’re curious about how insurance companies make their determinations I strongly recommend you have a look at Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s page on how companies set rates. You are also strongly recommended to read how to avoid insurance scams. As unusually cheap rates are a good indication a company may be a scam.
Washington Car Accident Statistics
Washington state is much safer than the US on average to drive in. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there were 492 traffic fatalities in 2009 (the last year for which data is available). This mean 0.87 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the state; compared to 1.14 for the US.
So although your risk of being killed in an accident is lower than it is elsewhere, it is not zero. Part of the problem is that the state has a relatively high number of drinking and driving related deaths; 42% of total road deaths in Washington vs 32% of road deaths nationwide.
For 2009, the state recorded 102,859 collisions involving 190,015 vehicles, which resulted in 45,276 minor injuries, 2,649 major injuries and 492 fatalities. The 5 worst counties were: King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Spokane County and Yakima County.
Thus pay special attention if you live and/or drive in those areas. Doing so will not only keep you alive and accident free, but will also help keep your premiums low.
Why You Should Get Washington Car Insurance Quotes
When looking for a Washington car insurance quote, try to look for all the possible discounts that you are entitled too. Make sure that you ask each and every company that you are interested in about their discounts.
Some companies will offer discounts that are not offered by others. And most of the time these discounts count; because in the competitive world of insurance where all offers seem to be the same, small benefits like these things can make a huge difference.
Your auto insurance quote will also be affected by your driving record, your credit history, and even the type of vehicle you have as well as your daily commute. You will be able to save a lot of money on premiums by making a few changes to your driving and lifestyle patterns.
Drive less to lower the risk of car accidents; drive a safer car; keep your credit record clean; and of course, driving safely are all good ways to maintain low premiums. Washington car insurance quotes largely depend on the potential damage that the car or driver may inflict, so be wary.
Looking for something as complicated as car insurance may be intimidating for some people, but many people have mastered the art of looking for affordable policies. This is why it is important to educate yourself. This will allow you to save hundreds of dollars on insurance premiums in the future.
Research is of the essence, and it is now easy to do this since there is information on Washington auto insurance online. But do not be hasty when getting instant Washington car insurance, since you can easily find a better deal if you just take the time to look around. Start with some free quotes below to get an idea of what insurers are willing to offer you today.
Auto Insurance Guides For Cities in Washington State