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Washington has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation — which makes having quality car insurance coverage very important. The good news is that the typical annual car insurance premium in Washington is $330 below the national average. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for further savings. Shop around, and you’ll find that quotes vary among different providers — with the most affordable option saving you hundreds a year.
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Insurance premiums vary significantly from one person to the next, so there’s no way to recommend one company to everyone. Many insurers offer car insurance in Washington state. Under state law, insurers may consider your age, driving record, where you live, credit history and other factors to decide whether they will offer you coverage. Not every insurer will offer you coverage or charge you the same premium for the same coverage.
Every insurer has its own formula for determining how much to charge you. It measures things like your driving history and address to determine your risk. Those formulas are all slightly different, so you have to get several quotes to find out what is the best car insurance for you. Try starting with at least five quotes. Getting more is even better.
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Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Washington
These are the four cheapest car insurance options in Washington:
These companies all earned high grades from A.M. Best, a top financial strength rating agency. It assesses a company’s long-term strength, which is important when looking at insurers. These companies also received above-average customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power’s most recent in-depth survey of car insurers. These factors matter because you want to be sure the company you choose isn’t going to create more problems for you when you file a claim.
State Farm was the cheapest at $804 a year. The Hartford wasn’t too far off at $1,070. Farmers ended up being the most expensive quote at a whopping $4,586.
Washington’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2020
Washington residents must have at least $25,000 of liability insurance to cover the injury or death of one person and $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident. State law also requires $10,000 of property damage liability coverage. This is known as a 25/50/10 policy.
Washington’s average monthly premiums are roughly $27 below the national average cost of car insurance. That adds up to more than $320 in savings over the course of the year. Washingtonians save big, in part because they see few fatal crashes every year and because they have one of the highest seat-belt use rates in the country. Those things mean less risk for insurers, and that lowered risk translates to less money coming out of your wallet.
However, even with the overall low state premiums, urban dwellers can expect to pay more than the average rate. This is true of any city, simply because the close quarters lead to a greater chance of accidents. Residents in the Seattle/Bellevue/Tacoma area, however, may see their rates diverge from the state average because of its reputation as one of the country’s top 10 hot spots for car theft.
Buying upgraded coverage is one of the most important things you could ever do. Consider the following:
By industry estimates, you will file a claim for an accident every 17.9 years.
The average cost of a disabling, nonfatal accident is $93,800.
Those don’t sound like great odds. For example, if you stick to your crazy cheap car insurance policy from State Farm for $804 a year, and you get into an $80,000 accident, you’re going to be left with a $55,000 bill to pay out of pocket. Do you have that kind of cash lying around?
The smarter option is to purchase more coverage upfront. Liability coverage that’s twice the state minimum would cost you only $466 more a year through State Farm. And then, in that horrific accident scenario, you’re left with $30,000 to pay out of pocket. It’s not ideal, but it’s a lot better than the first option.
Washington doesn’t require you to have uninsured motorist coverage, but given that over 16 percent of Washington drivers don’t have insurance, it’s a wise investment. Without it, you could get stuck paying for any medical bills out of pocket. Underinsured motorist coverage goes hand in hand with this. It covers the remainder of the damages if the other driver’s insurance limits aren’t high enough to pay the full amount.
If you have a lease or loan on your vehicle, you may be required to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage as well. Lenders often require this to ensure they get their money if you get into an accident before the lease is up or the car is paid off. Collision coverage primarily covers accidents with other vehicles, while comprehensive coverage deals with non-collision-related damages — things like vandalism, theft and natural disasters.
Washington is pretty lenient about driving without insurance compared with most other states. However, according to the Washington State Department of Licensing, you may have to pay a fine of $450 or more if you are driving without insurance. In addition, if you cause a car accident while being uninsured and you cannot afford to pay the bills of those injured in the accident, you likely will face a court judgment and a suspended license.
Some states determine who is at fault in every accident, and other states allow a phenomenon known as “no-fault” accidents. A no-fault accident is one in which no one is blamed for the incident that happened, meaning that it is not clear who has to pay for the damages. This is where no-fault insurance comes in.
No-fault insurance covers policy owners and their passengers for bodily injuries incurred because of a no-fault accident. This could include hospital or medical expenses, funeral expenses and even income losses caused by the inability to work due to the accident injury.
Only 18 states run under the no-fault system. However, Washington is not a no-fault insurance state. That means that when there is an accident, one or both drivers are assigned to be at fault. Because of this designation, you do not really need at-fault insurance.
The state passed the Washington Financial Responsibility Law, which says that all drivers must have some sort of liability insurance to be on the roads in Washington. The majority of drivers in Washington purchase a liability insurance policy from a licensed company, but the Washington Department of Licensing outlines three other possible methods of meeting this requirement.
You can choose to make a deposit of $60,000 to the Washington Department of Licensing in the form of cash or government bonds. This amount is held by the department, with a certificate of authenticity issued to you as proof, and you will have any claim amounts from accidents withdrawn from this deposit.
Another option is that you can self-insure if you have 26 or more vehicles registered under your name with the Washington Department of Licensing. These vehicles can be owned or leased, and you will receive a certificate to prove that you will pay for any injuries and damages caused by any of these vehicles.
Finally, you can have a surety company that is licensed in Washington issue you a liability bond that is worth at least $60,000. Once you have this bond, you have to carry proof of its existence with you when you drive as documentation of your financial responsibility.
Although laws can change frequently, there are currently rules in Washington having to do with using cellphones while driving. For example, there is a ban on texting, calling or talking on handheld phones while driving. In addition, Washington has banned the use of all cellphones, whether they are handheld or hands-free, for drivers who are within the first years of their licenses. These rules are meant to help drivers focus on driving and not be distracted while operating the vehicle.
If you have had some legal troubles due to your driving, such as reckless driving, getting a DUI or being a habitual traffic offender, you could have trouble securing proper car insurance. If this is the case, you may need SR-22 insurance.
Technically, SR-22 is not a form of insurance but rather a policy that must be purchased and filed with the Washington government. You can purchase this policy from your regular car insurance carrier. However, because it is an item that is necessary for drivers with points or issues on their driving records, SR-22 insurance is not cheap.
Too long, didn’t read?
The only way to know which company offers the best car insurance for you is to get quotes, play around with coverage options, and compare the numbers. It’s recommended that you get more than just the minimum coverage if you can. It may seem like a burden now, but in the event of an accident, it’ll be the smartest decision you ever made.