Washington Auto Insurance Requirements
Washington has strict auto insurance and/or financial responsibility laws for both private and commercial vehicle owners. Minimum auto insurance coverage requirements in Washington are mandated by state law and the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. The following minimum coverage is required on every registered vehicle, except as noted below:
Driving without the mandatory liability insurance in Washington can result in a $250 fine for the first offense, suspension of driving privileges, reinstatement fees, and court costs. Subsequent offenses are subject to higher fines, reinstatement fees, and potential jail time.
The Washington Automobile Insurance Plan is available to drivers who are unable to obtain required coverage through the voluntary market. More information is available on the AIPSO website.
Alternatively, drivers not wishing to carry basic liability insurance in Washington may deposit cash or securities in the amount of $60,000 with the state treasurer, or obtain a surety bond. The state treasurer will then issue a certificate of financial responsibility in lieu of an insurance card.
Factors Influencing Car Insurance Premiums in Washington
Getting a quote for cheap car insurance in Washington requires some research and rate comparisons between different insurance companies, even though Washington ranks below national averages for car insurance costs. Some factors that impact insurance rates in Washington include:
- Washington is not a “no-fault” state, and does not require PIP insurance
- Vehicle repair costs are generally less expensive in Washington than elsewhere
- Overall accident fatality rates are somewhat lower than national averages
- A much higher percentage of uninsured drivers compared to national averages
- Auto insurance fraud
- Vehicle theft rates well above national averages
The average auto insurance premium for residents in Washington is $1,584 in 2011; the national average is $1,790.
Tips for Obtaining Cheap Car Insurance in Washington
- If you’re over 55, take a state-approved defensive driving course for a policy discount
- Several insurance companies offer “pay as you drive” car insurance for low mileage drivers in Washington
- Maintain a good driving record
- Bind multiple policies (homeowners, life, auto) with the same provider
- Maintain a good credit score
- Create a personal “emergency fund” of up to $1500 and increase deductibles accordingly
- Discuss affinity discounts with your insurance provider
- Drop comprehensive and collision insurance on older vehicles
- Auto Theft: Washington has one of the highest vehicle theft rates in the nation, but it has actually been decreasing (as is the case in most states) consistently over the past few years. This can be attributed primarily to anti-theft devices being standard on recent model cars, as well as public awareness of the issue:
(Source: Auto Thiefs)
- Automobile Accidents: The total vehicle miles traveled in Washington has remained fairly steady in recent years, but vehicle accident fatality rates have declined, mirroring a national trend. Washington is below the national average in numbers of deaths in car crashes
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