Auto Insurance in Washington

Overview

Known for being home to one of the world’s richest men, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, the Evergreen State can also boast the toughest DUI laws in the nation. If you’re caught drinking and driving in the state of Washington, even for a first offense, you face a mandatory 90 day loss of driving privileges.

Driving under the influence

In the state of Washington, if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher You are considered to be Driving under the Influence (DUI). And it’s not limited to alcohol. According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, DUI includes driving while affected by alcohol and/or drugs. Washington law defines drugs for the purposes of DUI to include prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.

Washington State utilizes a tiered system for sentencing DUI cases. Offenders with a BAC at or above .15 percent face stiffer penalties than those with a BAC of .08 to .149. You may be penalized if you refuse to submit to a breath test,

Drivers arrested for a first DUI offense face serious penalties, including mandatory one day jail time, if convicted; two days for offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher.

In addition, first offense convictions:

  • Carry a mandatory license suspension of at least 90 days
  • Carry a minimum fine of $865.50 to a maximum of $5,000.00 for offenders with a BAC of below .15%

So you can clearly see how costly it will be if you are caught driving under the influence.

Washington’s auto insurance requirements

In Washington State, it is required by law to carry an automobile liability policy that meets mandatory minimums. This is called the Mandatory Auto Insurance Law. All motorists must be able to provide evidence of a current auto insurance liability policy, or make a deposit with the Virginia State Treasurer’s Office of $60,000 in cash or securities.

To meet the minimum requirements in Washington, you must have coverage of:

  • $25,000 – bodily injury, one person
  • $50,000 – bodily injuries, one accident
  • $10,000 – property damages

Proof of insurance

 

If a police officer stops you, you are required to present your insurance ID card and verify that you carry the minimum mandatory auto insurance.

In Washington, you will receive a $450 fine if you are stopped by an officer of the law and fail to provide evidence of being insured. The state considers this a traffic violation, which could go on your driving record. You may also be assessed administrative costs.

Who is liable

 

Washington is considered to be a No-Fault auto insurance state. This means that if you are in a car crash and you sustain injuries, your own insurance company covers injuries and medical bills.

This no-fault insurance coverage is often called Personal Insurance Protection (PIP). In Washington State, other PIP benefits include loss of wages up to a maximum of $200 per week for one year, if you are disabled for 14 days after the accident. There are other benefits provided by PIP. Discuss this with your auto insurance agent.

Under no fault laws, drivers can sue for injuries, pain and suffering, but the case must meet high threshold conditions.

Exceptions to Washington’s mandatory auto insurance law

There are exceptions to the Mandatory Auto Insurance Law. According to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner these include motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds and specially licensed antique and collector cars.

Average Annual Cost of Insurance

The 2011 average annual premium for Washington auto insurers is $2,146.00 which is significantly higher than the national average $1,561.00.

 

Resources

Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org
Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner
Tel 360-725-7100
Web www.insurance.wa.gov