Before getting auto insurance in Washington
Laws around car insurance are different from state to state. And unless you’ve moved to more than one state you may not realize that that car insurance in Washington is vastly different from what you need in New Hampshire.
Read on to learn more about car insurance in Washington, from average rates and state requirements to how you can save on your coverage.
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Average car insurance costs in Washington
Washington drivers paid an average of $1,200 annually for car insurance in 2017, which is a little less than the $1,300 national average. If you’re older than 25 and have a clean driving record, you could expect to pay a lower premium if you live in Washington state.
However, rates are known to vary from one area of a state to the next. Drivers in downtown Seattle, for example, are likely to pay more than drivers out in Walla Walla. This is because city living comes with additional risk for car accidents, theft and vandalism — things that make it more likely for an urban driver to file insurance claims. And the more likely you are to file a claim, the more you’ll be charged for coverage.
How can I save money on car insurance?
No matter what state you’re in, you can use our general tips to lower your premiums and get a better value out of your coverage.
Compare Washington car insurance providers
State minimum requirements in Washington
To legally drive in Washington, you’ll need insurance that includes at least:
- $25,000 for injuries or death to one person
- $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people
- $10,000 for damage to another person’s property
What additional coverage can I get?
Washington drivers can typically find the same offerings you would find in any other state, including:
- Collision. Helps pay for car repairs if you’re in an accident.
- Comprehensive. Pays for repairs if your car is damaged by something other than an accident, like vandalism.
- Medical and funeral. This kind of coverage helps cover medical bills or funeral costs after an accident.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This protects you if you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
What can I do if I don’t want to buy car insurance coverage in Washington?
If you want to drive in Washington but don’t want to pay for traditional car insurance, it’s going to cost you $60,000 in cash or bond. Once you make this deposit to the state treasury and you’ll get a certificate of financial responsibility. This certificate performs the same job as an insurance ID card if you’re ever pulled over by police and need to show you’re covered.
Uninsured drivers in Washington
This state has a fairly high number of uninsured drivers at 17.4% in 2017, according to the Insurance Research Council. That means that about one in six drivers were on the road without proper coverage. The national average was 13%.
Car insurance for high-risk drivers in Washington
Wit hWAAIP, you’ll be assigned an insurance provider, and any additional risk you pose to the insurance provider is mitigated by spreading it across the WAAIP network of insurance companies.
Can I buy temporary car insurance in Washington?
Yes, you can get temporary car insurance. You might need this coverage if you drive occasionally or for visits to Washington that are longer than a month. Not all providers offer it in all locations, so it can be tricky to find coverage.
What happens if I’m driving in Washington and I don’t have insurance?
If you’re caught driving without proper coverage, you’ll likely have your license temporarily suspended and pay a fine starting at $450 for the first offense. If you’re caught again without coverage, the penalties increase.
If you’re involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured, or the crash results in property damages over $700, you’ll face a larger fine along with a license suspension. And you’re likely to have to show up in court.
What laws do I need to follow when I’m driving in Washington?
Most states in the US share a pretty common set of traffic laws, but each state has a few unique rules of its own. Some of the laws you’ll find in Washington include:
- Cell phones are to be mounted or in a cradle and not to be held by the driver. They are only to be used for navigation or music.
- Helmets are required for people of all ages riding a motorcycle.
- Headlights are required from 30 minutes before sunset until 30 after minutes sunrise.
- It’s a misdemeanor to leave any child younger than 16 in a vehicle with the motor running.
What are the penalties for being charged with a DUI in Washington?
Washington has the same blood alcohol content (BAC) limits as every other state in the country: 0.08% BAC for all regular drivers and 0.04% for commercial drivers. Additionally, drivers under 21 are held to the stricter standard of 0.02%.
Here are the fees and penalties you could expect if you’re charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Washington.
|1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense|
|Jail||24 hours to 1 year||30 days to 1 year||90 days to 1 year|
|Fines and penalties||$865–$5,000||$1,120–$5,000||$1,970–$5,000|
|License suspension||90 days to 1 year||2 years to 900|
days (2.5 years)
Implied consent law
In Washington drivers are subject to implied consent laws that mean if you’re driving on public roads, you’re consenting to a portable breath test (PBT) or breathalyzer if a police officer suspects you’re driving under the influence. And if you refuse, you face penalties like suspension of your license suspension for several months.
Can I get SR-22 insurance in Washington?
Yes, you can file an SR-22 insurance in Washington. An SR-22 is a document proving to the state that you meet all of the car insurance minimum requirements. You might need an SR-22 filing if you’ve gotten a DUI or if you’ve been caught driving without car insurance.
What happens after an accident in Washington?
No matter how big or small, a car accident can leave you feeling shaken up. Protect everyone involved in the crash, yourself and your insurance claim by following a few guidelines:
- Put safety first. Check to see that everyone involved is safe. If anyone is injured or there are unsafe conditions — like a burning car — don’t hesitate to call 911 for help.
- Touch base with your insurance company. After you’ve confirmed that everyone is safe, call your insurance agent to report the accident. They’ll walk you through the information they need for your claim.
- Document the accident. Protect your claim by taking down the name of any police officers at the scene. Take pictures of each car involved from different angles, and talk to witnesses you can contact later for more information.
- Exchange information. Get the full name, contact info and insurance policy details from other drivers. Note the driver’s car type, color, model and license plate number, and the exact location of the accident. Avoid saying the accident was your fault for the best chance of your car insurance company accepting to pay your claim.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
Washington is a comparative fault state, meaning a crash doesn’t necessarily need to be completely one driver’s fault. Basically, drivers split the costs of damage based on their share of the fault. And in a lawsuit, any person’s damage recovery is reduced in proportion to their share of the responsibility in an accident.
When should I report an accident in Washington?
You’ll only need to report an accident if anyone was injured or killed, or if property damages exceed $700. To file your accident report, get the document you’ll need from a local police department or county sheriff’s department.
If law enforcement investigates your accident before you leave the scene, you are not required to file an accident report. Otherwise, you’ll have to file a report within four days of the accident.
When should I contact a lawyer?
Not every accident requires legal advice, but for more serious ones consulting with a lawyer might become necessary. Consider calling your attorney if:
- You’re being charged with a crime — such as negligence — after an accident
- You plan to appeal a charge or a court decision that went against you following a crash
- You plan to file a civil suit against another driver involved in the accident
- Another driver involved in the crash plans to file a civil suit against you
- You’re being asked to pay costs significantly beyond what your insurance will cover
- Your insurance provider is refusing to pay for something that you think should fall within your coverage limits
Car insurance can help to protect you, your vehicle and everyone else on the road if something ever goes wrong. And in the state of Washington, it’s a legal requirement to carry insurance for these reasons.
To learn more about these topics, from laws and regulations in your state to how you can get the best value on your auto coverage, visit our comprehensive guide to car insurance.
Frequently asked questions about car insurance in Washington
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