Washington Car Insurance Laws: How Much Coverage Do I Need?

Washington only requires drivers to carry liability insurance coverage. Your policy must meet a 25/50/10 coverage limit to comply with Washington insurance law.
Written by Sarah Gray
Edited by Jessica Barrett
Washington car insurance
laws require all registered vehicles to have liability
car insurance
that meets the state-mandated limits of 25/50/10—$25,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, and $10,000 in property damage liability per accident.

Minimum requirements for car insurance in Washington

To comply with car insurance laws in the Evergreen State, you’ll need the following minimum amounts of
liability insurance
in your car insurance policy:
  • $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $10,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident
Liability insurance protects from lawsuits in two ways if you cause an accident:
  • Bodily injury liability (BI)
    helps cover the cost of injuries and lost wages for the other party, up to your policy limits, if you are at fault in an accident.
  • Property damage liability (PD)
    helps cover the cost of personal property damage for any other parties involved in an accident you cause. Again, this is only up to your policy limits.
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When you use the
Jerry
app to shop for coverage, Washington's state-minimum requirements will be included automatically in all quotes.
You'll have the option to increase your limits, but you'll never have to worry that you've brought your limits too low to meet Washington's insurance laws.

Other options to prove financial responsibility in Washington

Buying car insurance is the easiest and most affordable way for drivers to meet
Washington’s financial responsibility requirements
, but it’s not the only way. You can also:
  • Make a $60,000 cash deposit with the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL)
  • Provide the DPS with proof of a valid certificate of deposit (CD) issued by a Washington financial institution or securities firm
  • Acquire a $60,000 liability bond with a surety bond company licensed to do business in the state of Washington
  • Qualify for self-insurance if you have 26 or more vehicles registered in your name
Even if you have $60,000 to drop at a moment’s notice, car insurance is still going to be an easier and cheaper way to avoid penalties for driving uninsured in Washington.

Is minimum liability coverage the most cost-effective option?

No. Washington’s minimum car insurance coverage requirements are on par with other states, but this doesn’t mean they are enough to fully protect you from a lawsuit if you cause an accident.
Here’s why:
  • Low liability limits. A state minimum policy in Washington covers no more than $25,000 in medical bills and $10,000 in property damage—not enough to cover the cost of an average hospital stay for more than one person1 and not nearly enough to cover a totaled vehicle payout if the car is less than a few years old.2
  • Liability coverage does not pay for your own vehicle repairs or medical expenses. According to the III, the average collision coverage claim in 2021 was $5,0103. This will be an out-of-pocket expense if you don’t have a full-coverage policy.
  • No uninsured motorist coverage. Filing insurance claims with a stranger’s provider is awkward enough, but considering 22% of Washington’s drivers are uninsured4, you may not even have that option for covering costs if you’re hit by an uninsured driver.
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Expert Insurance Professional Insight

avatar
Vice President Insurance Operations
A general rule that I recommend is to carry enough coverage to protect your current and future assets – at least $100,000/$300,000 of liability coverage is recommended, but you may need more coverage depending on your financial situation.
The average cost for minimum coverage liability insurance in Washington is around $118 per month or $1,416 per year, while a
full coverage auto insurance policy
averages around $202 per month or $2,424 per year. 
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Despite slightly higher car insurance rates, the financial and legal security offered by higher coverage limits and physical damage protections makes full coverage the more cost-effective option.
If you’re shopping with
Jerry
, you can adjust your coverage limits and see how it impacts your annual premium.
Remember: Each Washington car insurance provider uses different rating factors when calculating auto insurance premiums, so you can expect variation in car insurance quotes between drivers and companies. To make sure you get the best and most affordable coverage, be sure to
compare quotes
from at least three to five different carriers.
If you lease or finance a vehicle, your lender or bank may also require you to purchase physical damage coverage—comprehensive and collision insurance—in addition to liability coverage with higher limits. For example, for leases, lenders typically also require 100/300/100 liability limits. 

Optional auto insurance coverage in Washington

On top of purchasing higher limits for your liability coverage in the state of Washington, it’s a good idea to look into additional forms of car insurance coverage. Here are some of the most popular coverage options available through most providers:
  • Collision insurance
    helps cover the cost of repairs for your vehicle after a collision with another vehicle or stationary object.
  • Comprehensive insurance
    pays for the repair of physical damages to your vehicle resulting from non-collision events (such as theft, vandalism, or fire) or hitting an animal.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
    pays for your medical expenses up to your policy limits if you’re involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP)
    provides coverage up to policy limits and regardless of fault for you and your passengers if you’re injured in a car accident.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Washington

Failing to show
proof of insurance
during a traffic stop is a traffic infraction in Washington state, but
driving without insurance
is a misdemeanor.5 
  • Driving without insurance results in at least $550 in fines.
  • Causing a collision while driving without insurance can result in both the above fines and
    license suspension
    for up to three years.
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FAQs

What does Washington state require for car insurance?

Washington state auto insurance laws mandate that drivers have liability insurance with minimum limits of 25/50/10—$25,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, and $10,000 in property damage liability per accident.

Is Washington a no-fault state for car insurance?

No. Washington is an
“at-fault”
or tort state. This means the at-fault driver in a vehicle accident is responsible for paying for the not-at-fault parties’ injuries and property damage.

What is the average cost of car insurance in Washington state?

The average cost for minimum coverage liability insurance in Washington is around $118 per month or $1,416 per year, while a full coverage auto insurance policy averages around $202 per month or $2,424 per year.

Does insurance follow the car or the driver in Washington?

As in most states, Washington car insurance follows the car. As long as the driver gives permission, anyone driving the motor vehicle will be covered under the owner’s policy.

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