The rainy side of Washington state pays a lot more for car insurance, with average rates in Seattle and Tacoma as much as 60 percent higher than state car insurance rates on the arid eastern half.
The average car insurance rate in Washington is $1,191. But every company uses its own method for assessing risk. That’s why the cost for the same policy can vary significantly among insurance companies – and why you should compare rates. For example, in Seattle ZIP code 98144, the highest rate among six carriers ($1,823) is nearly $500 more than the lowest ($1,325).
You can see below how every ZIP code in Washington stacks up. The difference in rates among insurers for the same policy can vary by a lot because each company uses its own formula to set your cost. That means you can save a lot if you compare rates to see which company has the lowest price. You can save, on average, $504 in Washington by comparing rates, according to CarInsurance.com’s average car insurance savings rate by state analysis.
Enter your ZIP code, age and coverage level to see the average rate, as well as the highest and lowest fielded from six companies.
Washington state law requires the following minimum car insurance coverage:
Minimum bodily injury liability
Minimum property damage liability
The cheapest car insurance you can get in Washington is the state minimum required to drive. Washington requires just $10,000 in property damage liability coverage, which is rarely enough to pay for repairs if you are unlucky enough to hit a newer car. Bodily injury limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident are relatively low as well. Consider increasing these levels as your income and assets grow.
Additional coverage is typically affordable, and, naturally offers more protection. Increasing coverage from the state minimum to higher liability limits costs $37 a year or about $3 a month. Hiking your policy to full coverage with a $500 deductible costs, on average, $725 more, or $60 a month.
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
*The table shows the average annual rate of nearly every ZIP code in Washington from up to six major insurance companies. Rates are for a male driver, age 40, with a clean record and good credit for a 2016 Honda Accord. Data was provided for CarInsurance.com by Quadrant Information Services.
Recommended car insurance
When deciding how much car insurance to buy, you need to assess your particular situation. To drive legally, you must buy at least the minimum liability insurance required by your state. If you didn’t borrow money from a lender to buy your car and you don’t have a lot of money or assets to protect, that might be a wise choice. If, however, you don’t own your car outright, you will be required to get comprehensive and collision coverage. Additionally, if you have a home and savings to protect, it’s wise to buy more coverage.
The more money and assets you have, the more likely it is that you may be sued following a car accident. Unless you are determined to pay the lowest car insurance rate possible, we recommend you buy higher than minimum liability coverage. If your net worth is:
less than $50,000, choose at least 50/100/50
between $50,000 and $100,000, choose at least 100/300/100
more than $100,000, choose at least 250/500/100
If you're leasing or financing your car, you automatically need coverage of 100/300/100 or higher.
Collision and comprehensive
Collision coverage pays for damage to your car after an accident that you cause. Comprehensive insurance pays to replace stolen cars and for damages from vandalism, flooding, hail, fire and animal strikes. If your car is:
less than 10 years old, you should strongly consider buying collision and comprehensive.
more than 10 years old, only buy collision and comprehensive if your car is worth $3,000 or more, if you couldn’t afford to replace your car if it’s wrecked, or if you just want more protection on your policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages if you’re hit by a driver with no insurance or a driver with coverage that’s insufficient to pay for your repairs and medical expenses. These should match the liability limits you choose. In Rhode Island, insurers are required under state law to offer these, but you can opt out if you want to carry only state minimum liability limits.
Medical coverage (MedPay)
Medical payments coverage can help pay for the medical or funeral expenses of covered drivers and passengers after an accident, regardless of fault, up to $25,000. In most states, including Rhode Island, it's an optional addition to your car insurance policy. MedPay does the following:
Covers you and your passengers’ medical expenses
Pays for expenses after health insurance limits are exceeded
Offers additional protection to insured drivers who are hit by a car while walking or biking
If you and your passengers:
Don’t have health insurance, or have a plan that doesn’t cover car accidents or has low limits, we recommend that you add medical coverage of at least $5,000 to your car insurance policy.
Do have health insurance, it’s still a good idea to have medical coverage if you want the best protection in your policy, as it can pay out after your health benefits are maxed out.
If you got a loan to pay for your car and have an accident, gap insurance pays the difference between the cash value of your car and the current outstanding balance on your loan or lease.
If you’re financing your car, your car is less than one year old and you’ve put less than 20 percent down on it, you should buy gap insurance. If not, you don’t need gap insurance.
If you’re leasing your car, it’s a good idea to buy gap insurance if you don't already have the coverage in your lease agreement.
If you own your car outright, you don’t need gap insurance.
Washington car insurance rates by company
Below you'll see average annual rates for Washington, ranked cheapest to most expensive, for three coverage levels:
State minimum liability requirements
Liability limits of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident and $50,000 property damage
Liability of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident and $100,000 property damage, with comprehensive and collision at $500 deductible
State minimum average annual rate
50/100/500 average annual rate
100/300/100 average annual rate
Best car insurance companies in Washington
Insure.com surveyed 3,700 drivers to find out what they thought of their car insurance companies. Scores are out of 100.
Best customer service:
1. USAA -- 100
2. Auto Club of Southern California/AAA -- 93.9
3. State Farm – 92.8
4. Geico – 92.6
5. The General – 90.8
5. Mercury – 90.8
5. Progressive – 90.8
Best claims service:
1. USAA -- 100
1. American – 100
2. Auto Club of Southern California/AAA – 96.6
3. State Farm -- 96
4. Progressive – 93.1
5. Geico -- 93
Best value for the price:
1. American Family -- 98
2. USAA – 97.7
3. The Hartford – 94.1
4. Auto Club of Southern California/AAA – 90.9
5. Titan – 90.1
Washington Car Insurance Laws
Stricter rules for young drivers: Washington drivers under 18 may not have any passengers under the age of 20 for the first six months of driving, and no more three passengers under 20 afterward (family excepted). They can't use cellphones at all, and they can't drive between 1 and 5 a.m.
Those "Traffic Safety Project" signs: Washington's Corridor Safety Program identifies the most trouble-prone sections of highways and helps arrange low-cost ways to make them safer. That could include new signs, flashing lights, improved crosswalk markings and increased patrols.
A DUI for pot: Washington made marijuana use legal in 2012, but driving while under the influence is still a crime (and a serious one at that). The state is still establishing standards for measuring intoxication.
Uninsured motorist penalties for Washington: You may be fined up to $250 and have your license suspended. There is no grace period after buying a new car in Washington; any car on the road needs to be currently insured.
Electronic proof of insurance: Washington law allows drivers to show proof of insurance during a traffic stop on a smartphone. It is one of 31 states that does so.
Largest car insurance companies in Washington by market share
Direct premiums written
Market share %
Overall customer satisfaction score
American Family I
Source: A.M. Best market share rankings are based on direct premiums written in 2015.
Customer review rankings based on Insure.com's 2016 "Best Insurance Companies" survey of 3,700 customers. Scores are out of 100.