You can now find Direct Auto Insurance in Washington, the Evergreen State! If you recently moved to Washington or just got your WA driver's license, there are a few things to note about car insurance laws in Washington State.
Follow along to learn about financial responsibility requirements, minimum coverage requirements for insurance, and the rules of the road in Washington.
Financial Responsibility Requirements
To drive a vehicle that's registered in Washington, you must have one of the following:
- Auto insurance
- Certificate of deposit
- Liability bond
All of these are designed to show that you're financially responsible for injuries or damage you cause in a car accident, whether it happens on the road in Redmond, Renton, or Richland. The state requires some form of proof of financial responsibility in case you get into an accident, like rear-ending a truck while trying to steer around Bigfoot.
Washington Auto Insurance
For auto insurance in Washington, your policy must include coverage of at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in one accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two people in one accident
- $10,000 for harm done to others' property in one accident
Note that all three of the above are necessary to meet Washington State's financial responsibility requirements using car insurance.
Certificate of Deposit
Another way you can take care of the financial responsibility of owning a car in Washington is through a certificate of deposit, or CD, totaling at least $60,000. The deposit can be made either with the Washington State Department of Licensing or with a bank in the state of Washington. You must have proof of your CD when you're operating your car to show it to a law enforcement officer if you ever get pulled over.
You also can demonstrate financial responsibility by obtaining a liability bond for at least $60,000. A liability bond is an agreement between you, the bond company, and the government. Virtually, it guarantees that, if you're unable to cover the costs of the accident yourself, the bond company will pay them for you. In turn, you'll make payments with interest to the bond company until the balance of your accident costs is paid off.
Bonds aren't always easy to get, especially if you have poor credit. If you decide to go the liability bond route, check that you're filing with a surety bond company that's authorized to do business in Washington. As with a CD, you must carry proof of your liability bond when you're driving your vehicle.
Self-insurance—meaning you pay for all vehicle-related losses out of your pocket—is available only if you have a fleet with at least 26 vehicles.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Washington
If you drive your car without the required coverage— insurance, CD, or liability bond—you could be fined at least $550. If you're caught driving in Washington without coverage or proof of financial responsibility, you could face steep fines, license suspensions, and more. The consequences of being at-fault and uninsured during a car accident in Washington are more severe, including up to a three-year license suspension and being taken to court by the injured parties.
Keep in mind that, as of writing, the following vehicles are exempt from WA's financial responsibility law:
- Motor scooters
- Antique or collector cars
- Horse-drawn carriages
- Police cars or government-owned vehicles
But just because a specific vehicle is exempt, it doesn't mean it's a good idea to not get insurance for it. Also, note that, as of July 2019, motorcyclists in Washington are no longer exempt from financial responsibility laws. So, stay on the right side of the law by purchasing Washington motorcycle insurance or carrying proof of financial responsibility.
Washington Rules of the Road
If you're driving in Washington state, here are a few rules of the road to remember:
- Handheld use of electronic devices, including cell phones, is not allowed behind the wheel, even if you're stopped at an intersection or in traffic. A ticket for the first offense costs at least $136; a second ticket within five years can set you back at least $234.
- Other types of distracted driving also are banned. These include grooming, smoking, eating, or reading while driving, but only if you've been pulled over for another traffic offense. A ticket for this behavior costs $99.
- Racing a car on a public road is illegal.
- Failing to register a vehicle before getting on Washington roads could result in a fine of $1,134, plus taxes and fees.
- State law mandates that you turn on your signal (blinker) at least 100 feet before switching lanes or merging.
*Direct Auto Insurance branded policies underwritten by carriers in the National General Insurance Group, Winston-Salem, NC.