Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Written by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years Laura Walker

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Apr 25, 2022

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If you live in Washington State and drive a car, you will need to purchase some form of car insurance. It is important to know what the requirements are in order to be able to drive a car, as these requirements will vary from state to state.

Because many of the regulations for insurance are determined at the state level, it is a good idea to be familiar with the different aspects of car insurance in Washington.

Search for Washington car insurance rates by placing your local ZIP code here in the FREE quote tool!

The rates for car insurance in Washington will also differ from those in other states. If you have just moved to the state, you may notice that your rates are either higher or lower than in your previous state, even for the same coverage.

If they are higher, you should ask your agent if there is anything you can do to lower your policy premium.

Car Insurance Requirements

Every state sets out conditions that must be met before an individual is able to drive. In the majority of the fifty states, car insurance is one of the requirements. Washington State is one of the states that requires some type of proof of financial responsibility in the event of an accident.

The Washington State Department of Licensing insurance.html requires every driver to carry either a car insurance policy or some other type of coverage.

For auto insurance, you need to carry the minimum coverage for liability, with a $25,000 individual limit for bodily injury, $50,000 limit for bodily injury of the entire party, and $10,000 for property damage.

A rare type of insurance that can be substituted for auto insurance is self insurance. This is only an option for individuals with 26 vehicles or more.

In Washington, you have two other options if you don’t want to purchase an auto insurance policy. One is to purchase a CD, or certificate of deposit. This certificate must be in the amount of $60,000 or more and must list the State Treasurer as the recipient.

The last option is a liability bond. The amount of the bond must also be for a minimum of $60,000. It should be filed by a company that deals with surety bonds and is allowed to conduct business in the state of Washington.

Penalty for not Carrying Proper Car Insurance in Washington State

The penalties for not having the right coverage for your vehicle are stiff. A minimum fine of $450 will be required. This is true even if you have the proper insurance or financial coverage but you are unable to show proof of it to the proper authorities.

Without insurance, your driver’s license may be suspended until you can show proof of coverage. You will also usually lose your vehicle’s registration.

Getting registration and your license back will cost you even more money, along with the pain of having to deal with no personal vehicle to get from place to place.

Don’t even think of producing false proof of your financial accountability. Doing so is considered to be a misdemeanor in the state, which comes with its own consequences.

Understanding Car Insurance Coverage

When you get an auto insurance policy in the state of Washington you will be able to choose which types of coverage you would like to have. The more types you have, the more you will pay for your policy, but you will also have to pay less out of pocket in the event of a loss.

The basic types of coverage are explained by the Insurance Information Institute. Liability insurance is the only type that is required by Washington State, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t add more types to your policy.

Having just liability coverage on your policy is frowned upon by most government agencies and insurance organizations. This is especially true if you are only carrying the minimum limits, as these are usually not sufficient to cover damages that occur.

Once the limits have been met, you will be personally liable to cover the difference.

Along with the six so-called basic types of coverage, there are other optional types that you may choose to add to your policy. Adding emergency road service is a good idea if you don’t have another type of roadside coverage, such as AAA.

If you want the ability to rent a car for no charge while your vehicle is being repaired for a covered claim, you may want to carry car rental expense coverage on your regular auto policy.

Your own policy may list limitations, such as a maximum amount or daily allowance, so make sure to check out the details.

Another optional type of coverage in Washington is for dismemberment, death, and loss of sight. This pays if a person named on your auto policy is killed or suffers particular injuries from a car accident.

Gap coverage is available in Washington. This coverage comes into effect if your car has been deemed a total loss.

In most cases, insurance companies will pay you just the market value of the car, which can be found at Kelley Blue Book. This amount is usually not enough if you still owe the bank money for the car. Gap coverage will pay the difference between what you owe and the market value of the vehicle.

You can also purchase coverage for custom equipment or furnishings. This may include coverage for snowmobiles, camper/trailer body, limited Mexico coverage, coverage for auto lease or loan, or joint ownership coverage.

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Average Cost of Car Insurance in Washington State

Car insurance rates vary greatly from state to state. Some states, such as New Jersey and New York, have high average premiums in the mid- to high-$2,000′s. Other states have lower rates, such as $680 in Iowa and $900 in Vermont.

The rates in Washington fall in between these two extremes. The average annual rate is around $1,350. Keep in mind that this rate will vary quite a bit depending on who the driver is, what types of coverage are on the policy, and other risks involved.

How to Find Car Insurance in Washington State

Because of the high number of car insurance providers in the state, it may seem like a daunting task to find a policy. There are a number of ways that you can search for car insurance, and your choice may come down to price or another factor.

One of the best ways to find an insurance company is to ask your family members and friends. They may be able to recommend an agent or company that they have worked with, trust, and are happy with. They may also be able to steer you away from a certain company if they have not had a good experience with it.

You can also use advertisements as a source for finding a car insurance provider. Some may also offer a discount because of it. The phone book can also guide you to an office in your local neighborhood.

The Internet is probably the fastest way to find a policy, especially if you don’t have a referral from someone else.

You can research individual companies by going to their websites or you can do a general search and get multiple quotes. If a low price is your main priority, then you may do the best by going to a website that allows you to compare several quotes at once.

Finding Non Standard Coverage in Washington

Not all drivers will be eligible for regular car insurance policies. If you are a young and inexperienced driver, have a bad driving record, drive a high-performance vehicle, or have a history of numerous claims, you may be placed in the non standard insurance category.

Fortunately for high-risk drivers, there are other options to obtain car insurance. There are a number of companies that sell high-risk car insurance. The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner lists the names of the companies in the state that are able to write policies for drivers in the non standard category.

Some drivers may be unable to obtain car insurance even from non standard companies. In this case, you will need to go through the state department. Legislature in Washington State has made insurance available for high-risk drivers through the Automobile Insurance Plan.

In order to be eligible for this plan, you need to meet certain requirements. You need to either be a resident of the state or a member of the military. You also must have a valid driver’s license issued by Washington State and not owe any money for previous car insurance coverage.

If you meet all of these, the Automobile Insurance Plan is required to insure you.

Whether you get coverage from a non standard provider or from Automobile Insurance, expect to pay high premiums. Higher risk drivers pay high rates anyway, but those in the non standard categories pay even higher rates.

If you go through the state-sponsored plan you may also have restrictions as far as the types of coverage you can get. Some only allow you to get the basic coverage that the state requires.

Search for Washington car insurance rates by placing your local ZIP code here in the FREE quote tool!

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  1. Washington State DUI Laws