How to find the best car insurance in Washington
Finding the best car insurance for your situation can take a bit of research, but you can make the process easier by knowing how to evaluate your needs. Bankrate’s analysis may help you feel empowered to find the right company and coverage for your needs.
Consider minimum insurance requirements in Washington
Like most states, Washington’s car insurance laws require drivers to carry at least minimum levels of certain coverage types. If you live in the Evergreen State, you must purchase at least the minimum required levels of bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage to drive legally. Insurance companies must also offer you underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection (PIP), although these can be declined in writing.
Minimum coverage is often the cheapest option to purchase, but it could leave you with high out-of-pocket costs if you cause an accident and the damages exceed your insurance limits. Most insurance agents recommend that you purchase higher liability limits if you can afford to. Additionally, minimum coverage doesn’t give you any coverage for damage to your own vehicle. For that, you’d need to purchase comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. This is commonly called “full coverage.”
Consider lender requirements
If you finance your vehicle with a loan or lease, you’ll likely have to purchase full coverage as a requirement of your loan. This type of policy adds comprehensive coverage and collision coverage which provide you with financial protection against damage to your vehicle. You might also want to consider gap insurance, which is designed to pay for the difference between the cash value of your vehicle and the financed amount if your vehicle is totaled or stolen. Finally, if you lease your car, you should know that lessors often require certain minimum liability limits that are in excess of the state minimum.
Consider your individual needs
Drivers can also evaluate their car insurance needs based on their individual circumstances. Understanding what you need from your policy can help you choose a company and coverage options. For example, if you have a teen driver to insure, you might want to look for a company that offers several young driver discounts that could help lower your policy costs. If you’re a high-risk driver who has accidents, tickets or a DUI conviction on your record, you might need to research non-standard car insurance options. Getting a sense of what your specific situation calls for can help you narrow down your options when shopping for coverage.
Car insurance discounts in Washington
Most major car insurance companies offer discounts to help drivers lower their insurance premiums. Taking the time to find savings opportunities that you qualify for could save you money on your premium. Some common discounts in Washington include:
- Young driver discounts: Car insurance for young drivers can be expensive, so finding the cheapest option is important for many families. Teens who go to school full time and earn good grades might qualify for good student discounts. If your child is away at school without a vehicle, you might also qualify for a distant student discount.
- Safe driver discounts: If you don’t have any accidents or tickets on your record in the last three to five years, you might be eligible for a safe driver or claims-free discount. If you’re a safe driver, you could also consider participating in a telematics program. These programs track your driving via a mobile app or plug-in device and you could earn a discount based on your driving habits.
- Other discounts: Bundling your home insurance and auto insurance with the same company often results in a discount on both policies. If you can afford to pay your premium in full, you might earn a paid-in-full discount. Finally, if you are a federal employee, military member or member of another qualifying profession, some companies will offer you savigns.
Each car insurance company offers a unique set of discounts. Talking with an agent or researching discounts online is usually an effective way to determine what savings you qualify for.