Key Things to Know About Liability Car Insurance in Washington
It covers others’ expenses. Liability insurance pays for others’ medical expenses and property damage after an accident you were responsible for.
There are penalties for driving without the required coverage. If Washington drivers do not satisfy Washington’s minimum liability requirements, they can face penalties for driving without insurance.
Drivers should consider purchasing higher limits. Drivers should consider buying more than the minimum amount of liability coverage required by Washington law if they can afford it. If you cause an accident that results in damage beyond your policy limits, you will be personally responsible for paying the difference.
Liability insurance will not cover all events. Washington drivers can also consider purchasing other types of car insurance in order to better protect themselves, given that liability insurance does not provide any coverage for the policyholder’s own injuries or property. For instance, both collision insurance and comprehensive insurance cover damage to the policyholder’s car. You will likely need these types of insurance if your vehicle is financed.
Liability-only insurance is car insurance that covers a third party's property damage or injuries in the event of an accident. The term “liability-only car insurance” is used to distinguish policies with basic coverage from those with collision insurance and comprehensive coverage.
Repairs to/replacement of items in the car during an accident
Repairs to/replacement of other property, like a mailbox, fence, or house
Liability-only insurance is the least expensive car insurance since it provides such minimal coverage. However, driving with only liability insurance can lead to expensive bills for your own property or injuries, which are not covered by liability-only insurance.
You need enough liability insurance to cover your net worth. Having coverage equal to the value of the assets you own and all the money you have, minus your debt, protects you financially in case of a serious car accident.
When to Carry Only the Minimum Liability Coverage
Although almost every state requires drivers to carry liability insurance, the minimum coverage is not always enough to cover the cost of an accident. It’s always best to carry as much liability coverage as you can afford, especially if you have a high net worth. You can generally get away with a lower property damage liability limit if you want to save, however, since property damage liability claims are usually less expensive than bodily injury liability claims.… read full answer
If you don’t have many assets or think the risk is worth it, you might be comfortable with carrying only the minimum coverage. But no matter what, make sure you’re carrying enough insurance to comply with state law and avoid paying fines for driving uninsured.
Liability Limits on Auto Insurance
Liability limits on auto insurance are the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay for injuries and property damage in accidents that you cause. Liability limits are typically written as three numbers divided by slashes.
For example, Arizona’s liability coverage requirements are 50/30/10. That means drivers need to carry $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident, and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage overall.
Why You Need More Liability Insurance Than the State Minimum
Your insurance company will never pay for anything beyond the limits of your policy. Using the Arizona example, if you cause an accident that leads to $70,000 in medical bills for the other driver, you will have to pay for $40,000 if you are only carrying the minimum insurance required. And if you can’t afford to pay the full amount, the other driver can sue, and you can have your assets seized or wages garnished to cover the remainder.
No, personal injury protection (PIP) is not required in Washington – it’s optional. By default, all Washington car insurance policies include at least $10,000 in PIP coverage. But if you don’t want the coverage, you don’t have to carry it (or get any replacement coverage for medical expenses). You just need to notify your insurance company in writing that you would like to decline PIP coverage.… read full answer
Washington drivers who want to cancel their PIP coverage should first check to see if their insurance company has any specific requirements for cancellation (for example, a timeline to follow). Otherwise, all you need to do is send a letter indicating that you were offered the PIP coverage but want to decline it. Include your name, your policy number, and the dates of your policy. Then sign the letter and mail it to your insurance company (ask customer service for the proper mailing address).
Even though PIP insurance isn’t required, it’s still a wise decision to buy some if you can afford it. In Washington, an average of 17.4% of drivers on the road don’t have car insurance. That means you have a 1 in 6 chance that the other driver won’t have insurance if you get into an accident. Car accidents can be extremely expensive, with fatal accidents in Washington alone costing $654 million each year. That makes PIP coverage a good investment.
No, PIP is not required - it's included on all insurance policies, but you can cancel it
Minimum PIP coverage (if not rejected)
State accident laws
Annual cost of insurance
National cost ranking (1=cheap)
Washington drivers pay an average of $1,328 per year. Car insurance in Washington costs a little less than average, despite cities like Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma that rank in the top 10 for vehicle theft nationwide.
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