Washington Car Insurance Requirements

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Minimum car insurance in Washington

Compared to many other states, Washington doesn't require much auto insurance. Car owners must buy only low levels of liability insurance. But it's smart to consider buying additional insurance. If you have only the state-required amount of car insurance and cause an accident, you can be sued for accident bills your insurance doesn't cover. Also, liability insurance doesn't cover damage to your own car, or auto theft. Let's look at the auto insurance available in Washington so you can make the right picks.

Minimum liability insurance in Washington:

Liability insurance is for damage and injuries you cause in a car accident. It pays others and does not cover your own car damage or medical bills. You must buy at least:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $10,000 property damage per accident

This is often written as 25/50/10.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage:

Despite the state requirement to have auto insurance, a lot of Washington drivers are uninsured. Washington ranks No. 7 in the country for the percentage of uninsured drivers: 17.4% of drivers have no insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council.

UM/UIM coverage pays out if you're hit by someone who has no liability insurance or not enough to cover your accident bills.

  • In Washington, auto insurance companies must offer you UM/UIM but you can reject it in writing. If you don't specifically reject it, it will be automatically added to your policy.
  • If you buy UM/UIM in Washington you must have coverage limits of at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident for injuries.
  • In Washington you can also buy a form of UM called uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD). This covers your property damage, such as a dented car door, from an uninsured driver or hit-and-run. If you buy UMPD you must have coverage of at least $10,000.
  • If you make a claim on UMPD coverage in Washington, expect a deductible of $100. That's the amount taken out of the insurance claims check. If you make a claim for a hit-and-run or "phantom driver," the deductible is $300.

Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP is not required in Washington but it is available. PIP covers your medical bills, lost wages, cost of services you can't perform, or funeral expenses after a car accident. It doesn't matter who caused the accident.

If you buy PIP, here's the minimum coverage in Washington:

  • Up to $10,000 for reasonable and necessary medical expenses for each person injured in the auto accident.
  • Up to $2,000 for funeral expenses.
  • Up to $200 per week ($10,000 total) for lost wages if you can't work because of the accident.
  • Up to $200 per week ($5,000 total) for services you can't do because of the accident, such as child care.

Comprehensive and collision coverage: These are not required by the state, but you may be required to buy them if you have a car loan or lease. They cover damage to your own vehicle from problems such as a car accident, hitting a tree, hail, fire and floods. Comprehensive insurance also covers car theft.

Rental reimbursement: Rental reimbursement is not required but can come in handy if you want your insurance to pay for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired after an accident. There is typically a maximum reimbursement per day and maximum total.

    Find ways to save money on your auto insurance: Cheap car insurance in Washington

You must show an insurance ID card (or other proof of financial responsibility) in Washington when:

  • Law enforcement requests it.

Penalty for not having auto insurance in Washington

  • Fine of not more than $250 or community restitution. 

Source: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

Complaint comparison for auto insurance companies

A national "complaint ratio" number is meant to show the level of complaints against a company relative to its size of business. Here are complaint ratios for the biggest auto insurance companies in Washington.

Washington auto insurance complaints

Updated Aug. 15, 2018

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