Is car insurance expensive in Seattle? Drivers in Seattle do pay among the highest rates for Washington car insurance, but you can still save a lot of money by comparison shopping. Here we help you decide how much car insurance to buy for your particular situation, allow you to compare rates by ZIP code, coverage level and company, as well as explain why the best Seattle car insurance is not always the cheapest.
Seattle ZIP code 98144 has the highest average car insurance rate in the city, $1,579 a year for full coverage, according to a survey of rates from six major carriers. But the difference between the highest rate ($1,823) for that ZIP and the lowest ($1,325) is $500. You can still save a lot on car insurance even if you live in an area with high rates. You just need to compare car insurance quotes to find the best price.
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CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to provide a report of average auto insurance rates for a 2016 Honda Accord for nearly every ZIP code in the United States. We calculated rates using data for up to six large carriers (Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm).
Averages for the default result are based on insurance for a married 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day, with policy limits of 100/300/100 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $100,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The rate includes uninsured motorist coverage.
Averages for customized rates are based on drivers ages 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 for the following coverage levels: state minimum liability, liability of 50/100/50 and 100/300/100 with $500 deductible on comprehensive and collision. These hypothetical drivers have clean records and good credit. Average rates are for comparative purposes.
Your own rate will depend on your personal factors and vehicle.
State Minimum: Required liability coverage to drive legally in your state; some states mandate additional coverage, such as personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist.
Liability Only 50/100/50: $50,000 per person/$100,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $50,000 for property damage. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others.
Full Coverage 100/300/100: $100,000 per person/$300,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $100,000 for property damage; comprehensive and collision coverage with $500 deductible. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others. Comprehensive and collision pay for damage to your car.
Many factors go into setting car insurance rates, and your location is chief among them. Car insurance companies look at how many claims there are in your area and what the cost is when deciding what you pay. In addition, each insurer calculates rates in its own way, so that’s why the same policy can have many different price tags. If you don't shop around to compare prices, you can't save. To see how other Seattle car insurance rates compare, use our average rates tool above. Enter a ZIP code, select an age group and coverage level, and it will show the average rate, as well as the highest and lowest, for your location.
Here's how Seattle’s highest average rate ($1,579) compares to others:
$592 more than the least expensive average rate ($987) in Washington, Hay ZIP code 99136
$388 more than the state average ($1,191)
$224 more than the national average rate ($1,355)
You’ll see in the chart below how Seattle neighborhoods compare on car insurance costs. You'll see that you can save up to $600 or so by shopping around.
Average annual rate
*Methodology for rates by ZIP code: CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to run auto insurance rates for a 2016 Honda Accord for more than 30,000 ZIP codes in the United States using six large carriers -- Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm. (In cases where an insurer’s rate wasn’t available, another major carrier's rate was substituted.) Averages are based on insurance for a single 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day, with policy limits of 100/300/100 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $100,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. This hypothetical driver has a clean record and good credit. The rate includes uninsured motorist coverage. Average rates are for comparative purposes. Your own rate will depend on your personal factors and vehicle.
Seattle car insurance requirements
Washington state law requires the following minimum car insurance coverage:
Minimum bodily injury liability
Minimum property damage liability
Cheapest car insurance in Seattle
The lowest liability car insurance limits your insurer offers is the cheapest policy you can buy. This will be the state minimum required to drive legally. In Washington (written as 25/15/10), that means your liability car insurance would pay up to:
$25,000 for injuries you cause to others
$15,000 per accident
$10,000 for damage you cause to others' cars and property
Best car insurance in Seattle
The best car insurance coverage usually isn’t the cheapest. You may be sued if you’re in an accident and your insurance doesn’t cover all of the damages. That means your home or savings could be in jeopardy. To protect your assets, you should buy liability insurance in the following amounts:
$100,000 to pay for others’ medical bills
$300,000 to pay for injuries to others in an accident you cause
$100,000 to pay for damage to others’ property
You should also consider buying these optional coverages:
Comprehensive, which replaces stolen cars and covers damage to your car from floods, fire, hail, vandalism.
Collision, which pays for damage to your car from accidents.
Comprehensive insurance and collision coverage typically won’t add a lot to your car insurance bill. Comprehensive costs $101 and collision costs $244, on average per year, for drivers in Washington, according to the Insurance Information Institute. These two coverages, unlike liability insurance, come with a deductible. That’s the amount you pay before your insurance kicks in. Insurers usually offer deductibles of $1,000, $500 and $250. The higher the deductible is, the lower your rate will be.
The average annual cost for just the state minimum level of coverage for Seattle drivers is $592, according to our rate analysis. If you bumped your liability up to 50/100/50, it would cost just $50 more a year, or $4 a month. If you jump from state minimum levels to full coverage, your extra cost is $839, or about $70 monthly.
Seattle auto rates by coverage level
Average annual rate
Liability Only – state minimum
Liability Only - 50/100/50 BI/PD
Full Coverage - 100/300/100 BI/PD
with $500 Comp/Collision deductible
Who has the cheapest car insurance in Seattle?
Below you'll see how insurers compare on price for three different coverage levels.
Driving in Seattle
Traffic in Seattle: The city and nearby areas came in seventh for the worst traffic in the nation in a recent report by USA Today, which noted that drivers spend about 63 hours a year stuck in traffic.
Car crashes: Major accidents have resulted in an average of nearly 30 deaths a year in recent years (2012-2014).
Commuting: The average commute in Seattle is 27.6 minutes.
High Occupancy Vehicle rules: The HOV lane, also known as the carpool or diamond lane, is designed to reduce traffic congestion and promote ride-sharing on freeways. In the Seattle area, only vehicles with at least two people, mass transit vehicles like buses and motorcycles are allowed to use the lanes. Use may be restricted during specified hours.
Public transportation: The U.S. Census Bureau says that the majority of riders in Seattle who commute to work by public transportation are white (about 64 percent), Hispanic (about 7 percent) and black (about 6 percent). The bureau notes that commuting is the main reason people turn to mass transit.
Smog rules: In Seattle you must have a vehicle tested for emissions before registering and every two years after that. After moving to Washington, you have 30 days to have a vehicle tested. Vehicles models from 2009 and newer and those 20 years old or older are exempt.
Bad intersection: The intersection at Denny Way and Terry Avenue was recently named Seattle's worst intersection in a survey of both motorists and pedestrians.
The information was gathered from various sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, state transportation departments and city police departments.