Car Insurance in Washington
Washington has a mandatory liability car insurance law to ensure that if you are involved in an accident that is your fault you can help pay for personal injuries and property damage.
Washington State’s Mandatory Liability Insurance must include:
Minimum coverage of:
- $25,000 for injuries or death per person
- $50,000 total for injuries or death per accident
- $10,000 for property damage
Optional Car insurance
Liability car insurance is the law but there are additional coverage options that can help to protect you financially including:
Collision – Collision coverage is designed to help pay for repairs to damage done to your car in a car accident.
Comprehensive – Comprehensive coverage is designed to help pay non-collision related damages to your car, such as those resulting from theft, vandalism, accidents with animals, and weather related damage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist – Uninsured/underinsured coverage is designed to help pay for your own injuries or property damage if you are involved in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver or “under-insured” driver.
NOTE: Although it’s not required by Washington State law, your financing company may require you to carry comprehensive coverage on your leased or financed vehicle.
Personal injury protection (PIP)/no-fault insurance – PIP is designed to help pay for certain costs after a car accident, regardless of who caused the accident. These costs include medical care, loss of income, and funeral expenses. Car insurance companies are required by law to offer PIP to their customers and a rejection is required in writing.
Washington Proof of Insurance
Proof of car insurance is mostly evaluated during traffic stops. If you are pulled over by a police officer you can expect to be asked to show proof of liability car insurance through your current insurance card. Your car insurance card should include:
- The name of your car insurance company
- Your policy number
- Effective date of your policy
- Expiration date of your policy
- Year, make, model of your car
You should be issued an insurance card every time you buy a new policy or renew your policy. Most insurance companies will mail you an updated card every time your insurance is renewed. Make sure to carry your most current card with you.
Car Insurance Violations and Penalties
If you are pulled over and cannot produce proof of insurance you could be fined. If you did have valid car insurance at the time you were pulled over but could not find the insurance card, you are entitled to present the court with proof that you were insured at the time of the violation before your court date. Charges would then be withdrawn but you may still have to pay a court-processing fee of $25. If you actually did not have valid car insurance at the time you were pulled over, you will face a minimum fine of $450.
Washington Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Drivers with a history of traffic violations or car accidents may become labeled as “high-risk drivers” and have difficulty finding a car insurance company who will insure them to drive. Private car insurance companies have the right to deny coverage as they see fit. If you are unable to obtain private car insurance then you may apply for coverage through the Washington Automobile Insurance Plan. It is a public plan where Washington car insurance companies share the risk of covering high-risk drivers. Insurance rates through the plan are generally much higher than standard policy rates so it should only be used as a last resort.
Proof of Financial Responsibility
In Washington State, certain traffic violations may require you to file proof of financial responsibility known as an SR-22 certificate, also called SR22 insurance. Most people who are asked to carry SR-22 are required to carry this insurance for three years. Many car insurance providers will file for this coverage on behalf of their clients but you will want to make sure that your particular provider offers this service.
You may be required to file an SR-22 if you:
- Have had your driver’s license suspended
- Have been convicted of certain offenses
- Failed to pay judgment fines
- Have driven or owned a car involved in an accident
Determining Your Car Insurance Rate
Car insurance companies will factor in several things before quoting you a rate. Common factors include:
- Driving record
- Credit history
- Marital status
- Your car’s make, year and model
- History of insurance claims
Note that the amount of deductible that you choose to pay toward the damages can change your premium. The higher the deductible on your plan, the lower your car insurance premium.
Washington Car Insurance Discounts
In Washington State, many car insurance companies offer discounts for such things as being a good driver, good student, multi-car, homeowners, anti-theft device, and taking a defensive driver course (for drivers 55 and older).
If you have questions or concerns about your car insurance policy or provider, you can get help from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) by calling (800) 562-6900.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!