Car Insurance Requirements in Washington (2024)

The mandatory minimums in Washington state are $25,000 for bodily injury (up to $50,000 per accident) and $10,000 for property damage.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren
  • 8 years in insurance and personal finance writing

  • Former data scientist for U.S. Geological Survey

Lindsay is a freelance personal finance writer currently pursuing her Series 65 license. She enjoys helping readers learn money management skills that improve their lives.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Updated April 17, 2024

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To make sure drivers can pay for damages from a car accident, most states set mandatory minimums for car insurance. These minimum requirements can help pay for medical bills, hospital charges, and property damage, as well as your legal fees if you face a lawsuit.

It’s important to understand and maintain these minimum requirements and know whether it’s a good idea to purchase higher liability coverage limits or additional types of car insurance.

Here’s what you need to know about minimum car insurance requirements in Washington.

Quick Facts
  • In Washington, 21.7% of drivers are uninsured.

  • Failure to show proof of car insurance in Washington can result in a fine of $550 or more.

  • Because Washington is an at-fault state, the driver responsible for the accident must cover the other party’s resulting damage and loss.

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Washington car insurance requirements

Washington’s minimum car insurance requirements are similar to mandates in other states. You’ll need to purchase bodily injury liability coverage with a minimum limit of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You’ll also need to purchase property damage liability coverage with a minimum limit of $10,000 per accident.[1]

Bodily injury liability

If you injure someone while driving, you have the financial responsibility to cover the other driver’s injury. That’s why Washington state law requires you to carry enough bodily injury liability coverage to reimburse someone up to $25,000 in damages, which can include lost wages as well as medical bills.

In 2022, the average bodily injury liability insurance claim was $24,211.[2] If the damages exceed that amount, you’ll need to cover the remaining amount out of pocket, so you may want to consider increasing your coverage limits.

Property damage liability

Similarly, if you damage someone’s personal property, such as their vehicle, during an accident, your property damage coverage will kick in to reimburse someone for up to $10,000 in damages.

In 2022, just over 2% of people filed a claim against a property damage liability policy, for an average amount of $5,313. As with bodily injury liability coverage, you may want to consider a higher limit if you have significant assets to protect, such as your home or your bank account balance.

Do you need more than state-minimum coverage in Washington?

A liability insurance policy helps cover only the damage and injury you cause others and their property in a car accident. The bare-minimum limit required by the state of Washington is typically the cheapest policy option available. On average, Washington drivers pay $87 per month for liability coverage.

It’s a good idea to consider whether you need additional coverage, especially if you have assets above the minimum coverage limits that you could lose in a lawsuit. For example, if you’re saving toward a down payment on a home and you seriously injure someone in a car accident, you could face out-of-pocket payments from your personal savings if their medical costs exceed $25,000.

Full-coverage car insurance typically includes collision and comprehensive coverages to protect your car from damage, regardless of fault. If you have an auto loan or finance your vehicle, your lender may require you to buy this coverage.[3]

Good to Know

If you own your car outright, full-coverage insurance is optional. You should still consider purchasing it if you don’t have the funds to pay for another car if you total your vehicle in an accident. Because it provides more protection, full-coverage insurance is typically more expensive than liability-only coverage. Washington drivers pay $192 per month for full coverage, on average.

The cost of liability-only car insurance in Washington

Washington state law requires drivers to carry minimum amounts of liability coverage. Washington drivers pay an average of $87 per month for this type of insurance policy. State Farm offers the cheapest average liability rate, at $55 per month.

Here’s how much top insurers charge on average for a minimum-limit liability policy in Washington state.

The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Wednesday, April 17 at 12:00 PM PDT
Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote
State Farm55
USAA56
GEICO68
Direct Auto69
Allstate73
Safeco75
National General79
Midvale Home & Auto80
American Family83
Nationwide86
The General91
Chubb93
Farmers97
Travelers113
Foremost119
Dairyland123
Bristol West135
Liberty Mutual151
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

The cost of full-coverage car insurance in Washington

The average cost of full-coverage insurance in Washington is $192 per month. Full coverage generally includes a collision insurance policy that pays for your vehicle damages following an accident and a comprehensive insurance policy that kicks in following vehicle damage from a non-collision incident, like severe weather or vandalism.

Below, you can find the cheapest average full-coverage quotes from Washington car insurance companies.

The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Wednesday, April 17 at 12:00 PM PDT
Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote
Direct Auto78
National General104
Safeco112
State Farm116
USAA119
Midvale Home & Auto134
GEICO143
Allstate154
Liberty Mutual158
The General160
Nationwide163
American Family175
Chubb195
Farmers205
Travelers239
Dairyland270
Bristol West284
Foremost325
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Penalties for driving without proof of insurance in Washington

About 21.7% of Washington drivers are uninsured, which increases your risk on the road.[4] If a police officer pulls you over and you can’t provide proof of insurance in the form of a valid auto insurance ID card, you could face fines starting from $550.[5]

If you cause an accident and can’t reimburse your victims for the resulting damage, you’ll face a three-year license suspension. You may qualify to apply for conditional restrictions to drive to and from work or school, but you could face further severe penalties if law enforcement catches you driving outside of these restrictions.

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Optional car insurance coverages to consider

Many people opt to buy additional types of coverage that provide more protection in the event of an accident but add minimal cost to their total premium. In addition to collision and comprehensive coverages, you should consider the following common insurance add-ons:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/abffe6238f/financial-protection.svg

    Gap coverage

    Gap coverage pays the remaining balance on your car loan if an accident totals your motor vehicle before you complete paying it off. Due to depreciation, the insurance payout typically isn’t sufficient to repay the loan.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/e30eeeebc5/personal-injury-protection.svg

    Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage

    PIP coverage pays for ambulance costs and medical expenses for you and your passengers, as well as lost wages and funeral costs.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/100x100/9997698e9e/emergency-roadside-service.svg

    Roadside assistance coverage

    If you run into car trouble on the road, such as needing a jump-start, running out of gas, or getting a flat tire, roadside assistance coverage can pay for a tow truck or mobile mechanic to help you out.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/5285c4cd74/uninsured-or-underinsured-motorist-coverage.svg

    Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

    If one of Washington’s many uninsured drivers hits you, uninsured motorist coverage will kick in to cover your bodily injury and property damage. Underinsured motorist coverage acts similarly and applies when a driver’s limits are too low to fully cover your damages.

Washington car insurance requirements FAQs

You might have other questions about buying car insurance in Washington based on your personal circumstances. The following information should help you determine how much coverage you need in the state.

  • Does Washington require car insurance?

    Yes. You need to buy car insurance to drive legally in Washington. However, you can opt out of buying car insurance if you meet certain legal requirements, such as purchasing a certificate of deposit from the state of Washington that serves as your liability coverage or purchasing a $60,000 liability surety bond with an approved company.

  • What does Washington State require for car insurance?

    Washington drivers must purchase a policy with bodily injury liability with coverage limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident and property damage liability with coverage limits of at least $10,000 per accident.

  • Do you need car insurance to register a car in Washington?

    Yes. You need a current car insurance policy to register a car in Washington state. Your only other option is to purchase a certificate of deposit from the state or an approved bond company that serves as your car insurance policy.

  • How soon after buying a car do you need insurance in Washington state?

    You must have insurance in place for your motor vehicle before driving on Washington roads, even after you’ve just bought a car. If you don’t currently have an auto insurance policy in place, you’ll need to buy one before you drive it home. If you already have an insurance policy, most insurers offer a grace period of around 30 days where your current policy applies to your new car.

  • Does insurance follow the car or the driver in Washington?

    Insurance generally follows the car, including in Washington state. If someone else drives your car, your own insurance policy should cover them. However, your car insurance follows you around in some cases, too, such as when you rent a vehicle while on vacation.

Sources

  1. Office of the Insurance Commissioner Washington State. "Washington state's mandatory auto/motorcycle insurance law."
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance."
  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "NAIC Consumer Shopping Tool for Auto Insurance."
  4. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Uninsured motorists."
  5. Washington State Department of Licensing. "Mandatory insurance."
Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren

Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance personal finance writer living in Suquamish, WA. Her work has appeared with FICO, Credit Karma, The Balance, and more. She enjoys helping people learn how to manage their money better so they can live the life they want.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

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Compare Car Insurance Quotes Instantly

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