Washington Car Insurance: How to Get the Cheapest Rates
Washington sits just below the middle of the 50 states when it comes to car insurance premiums. It has an average annual premium of $1,191 for full coverage (defined below).
While it’s certainly a good deal for Washington drivers, you should still be looking to get the most coverage for the lowest possible premium.
In this guide, we’re going to help you do just that.
Average Car Insurance Rates in Washington
Statewide average premiums in Washington for three popular car insurance coverage levels (all premium information we’ll be providing comes from our sister site, CarInsurance.com) are as follows:
- “Full coverage” – 100/300/100, with comprehensive and collision coverage, including a deductible of $500: $1,191 per year
- Liability only, with 50/100/50: $503 per year
- Liability only, using the state minimum coverage levels: $466 per year
Coverage level matters
For coverage levels, insueres use numbers such as "100/300/100" refers to liability coverage levels in thousands of dollars.
- The first number represents bodily injury or death to one person in a single at-fault accident.
- The second number represents bodily injury or death to two or more people in a single at-fault car accident.
- The third number refers to property damage caused to other vehicles in an at-fault accident.
Full coverage also includes collision and comprehensive coverage, which pays for repairs to your vehicle no matter who is at fault.
Just because there’s an average premium for the entire state doesn’t mean it will apply to you.
You may pay more or less, depending on the various factors that are used to calculate premium rates.
Factors That Will Affect Your Washington Car Insurance Premium
Below are the seven factors that will impact the premium you’ll pay.
In many states, men will pay more for car insurance than women.
But, in Washington there isn’t much difference.
For example, while a 30-year-old man living in Seattle will pay $162 per month for full coverage, a 30-year-old woman will pay $166 per month for the same policy.
Age is a factor in most states, and that includes Washington. You can expect premiums to be higher for drivers 25 and under, and for those over 65.
This will be most acute for younger drivers.
For example, an 18-year-old male driver in Seattle will pay $582 a month ($6,984 per year) for full coverage. A 30-year-old male driver, also living in Seattle, will pay $162 a month ($1,944 per year) for the same coverage.
As is the case in most states, insurance rates will go up once you pass the age of 65.
A 75-year-old man living in Seattle will pay $175 per month ($2,100 per year), while a 30-year-old male with the same policy will pay $162 per month ($1,944 per year). This shows how rates start to rise as you move past 65.
This is the single most significant factor in your car insurance premium – and it’s largely in your control.
Speeding 11 to 29 miles over the posted speed limit produces a 19% premium increase. Fortunately, the increase remains the same, even if you exceed the speed limit by 30 or more miles per hour.
You’ll certainly want to avoid any drunk driving convictions.
The average increase in Washington is 59% for a DUI/DWI, and that’s for a first offense. Subsequent offenses will be much higher and carry serious penalties.
At-fault accidents are another major factor.
A typical premium in Washington will increase by 35% after an accident claim that’s determined to be your fault.
However, the increase will vary based on the dollar amount of any property damage claim, or whether or not the accident resulted in bodily injury.
What does your credit history have to do with your car insurance? A lot – at least according to car insurance companies.
A driver with bad credit will pay a full 62% more for car insurance in Washington than someone with good or excellent credit.
This factor varies based on the car insurance company, so you may want to shop if you have bad credit.
Otherwise, keep your credit clean for at least two or three years to improve the situation.
As disclosed earlier, a policy with liability limits of 100/300/100 is $1,191 per year in Washington, while liability coverage limits of 50/100/50 is $503.
State coverage for minimum liability averages $466 per year. This makes the amount of liability coverage you have is another important factor in determining your premium.
But you must be careful in using your liability limits the lower your premium.
Loosely speaking, those coverage limits should match your net worth.
For example, if you have little or no net worth, state mandated minimum coverage will be sufficient. But if you have between $50,000 and $100,000 in net worth, you should favor a policy with liability limits of 50/100/50.
And if your net worth is $200,000 or more, look for 100/300/100 coverage.
The vehicle covered
The type of vehicle you’re insuring has a major impact on your car insurance premium.
Certain vehicles will simply cost more to insure than others.
For example, higher-end vehicles, like luxury cars, SUVs and pickup trucks, will cost more, if only because collision and comprehensive will be more expensive.
Other vehicles, like sports cars, will cost more because of the potential for them to be driven at high and dangerous speeds.
Finally, older vehicles may be the least expensive to insure. That’s because they typically don’t require collision and comprehensive coverage, especially if they’re worth less than $3, 000.
It may surprise you to learn that the premium for identical coverage between two carriers can be radically different.
Since that can amount to hundreds of dollars per year, you owe it to yourself to shop for the best deal you can get.
Below are the average statewide premiums for full coverage (100/300/100) by six major carriers operating in Washington:
- Nationwide: $1,028 per year
- Geico: $1,075 per year
- Progressive: $1,092 per year
- State Farm: $1,160 per year
- Farmers: $1,335 per year
- Allstate: $1,455 per year
As you can see, Allstate’s premium is more than $400 per year higher than Nationwide’s.
Average Washington Car Insurance Rate Based on City
Even within the same state, there can be major variations in premium levels from one city or town to another.
With the statewide average premium at $1,191 in Washington for 100/300/100 coverage, average premiums in the larger cities are as follows:
- Spokane: $1,360
- Vancouver: $1,452
- Bellevue: $1,521
- Seattle: $1,532
- Tacoma: $1,767
Notice that each city premium is a good bit higher than the statewide average.
That’s because premiums for drivers in urban areas are routinely higher than they are for those in rural areas.
It owes to the fact that urban areas have a larger concentration of drivers and vehicles. That leads to greater traffic, and increased likelihood of accidents.
Auto Insurance Laws in Washington
Washington car insurance laws require that drivers carry minimum liability coverage limits of 25/50/10 on their vehicles. The minimum car insurance requirements in in the state are listed below:
- Minimum bodily injury liability, one person – $25,000
- Minimum bodily injury liability, two or more people – $50,000
- Minimum property damage liability – $10,000
Failure to maintain the required minimum level of coverage is subject to a fine of $550 or more.
But if you’re an at-fault party in an accident and you don’t have insurance, your license may be suspended if you can’t pay the damages and/or injuries that resulted from the accident.
Basic Information on Optional Coverages in Washington
Not all policy provisions are legal requirements, but some recommended options include:
Even though state law prohibits driving without car insurance, many drivers do it anyway. And many more have only minimum coverage. You may need this coverage option to cover you if you’re involved in an accident that’s the fault of either type of driver.
Collision and comprehensive
These may be the most famous car insurance tag-team, since they’re typically offered as a package. Collision will cover damage to your vehicle caused when your car is in motion. It will pay no matter who is at fault.
Comprehensive will cover damage to your vehicle while it’s parked. That can include damage caused by falling trees or bad weather. But it will also cover theft and vandalism damage.
You’ll be offered a deductible on your collision/comprehensive coverage. This is most commonly $500, but it can be higher or lower. The lower your deductible is, the higher your premium will be. Conversely, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be.
Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
This provision is often required if your vehicle has a lease on it. But a lender may also require it if you have a loan that exceeds 80% of the value of the vehicle.
Car insurance policies will pay only the current value of the vehicle, which is not always sufficient to pay off the loan or lease. That’s where GAP coverage enters the picture. It will pay the difference between the loan or lease, and the value of the vehicle.
Tips to Get the Best Rates on Washington Car Insurance Policies
Below are the most popular strategies to get the best rates on car insurance in Washington:
Take advantage of every discount available
Insurance companies offer discounts, though some offer more than others.
Get a list of any and all discounts offered by your carrier and take advantage of any that apply to you.
There are discounts for payment methods, bundling auto insurance with other policies, vehicle safety equipment, and even certain affiliations.
No other factor has more impact on your premium than your driving record. That includes moving violations and at-fault accidents.
Keep a clean record for at least the past three years, and you should be able to take advantage of the lowest premiums available.
Complete a safe driver course
If you already have an at-fault accident or moving violation, your premium may be reduced by completing a safe driver course.
Make sure the course is approved by your insurance carrier before signing up. Then weigh the cost of the course against the projected premium savings it will produce.
Keep your credit clean
As we’ve already shown, a bad credit history can increase your premium by 62% in Washington.
You can lower or eliminate that increase by maintaining clean credit for at least two or three years.
Increase your deductible
By increasing the deductible on your collision and comprehensive from, say, $500 to $1,000, you can save several hundred dollars on your premium each year.
Just be sure you have the funds available in savings to cover the higher deductible if it becomes necessary.
Shop, shop, shop!
You can save hundreds of dollars per year on your premium just by choosing one company over another.
And once you choose a company, don’t get too comfortable.
You should check out the competition every two or three years to see who may be offering a better deal.
Washington has a fairly low auto insurance premium structure, at least when compared to other states.
But that shouldn’t stop you from actively seeking the lowest-cost policy with the best coverage available.