An SR-22 in Washington is a certificate proving that a high-risk driver has the legal requirements for car insurance in Washington. So-called SR-22 insurance raises annual car insurance premiums by roughly $38 in Washington, compared to standard rates. In addition, there’s usually a fee of $15 to $25 for your insurance company to file your SR-22 documentation with the state.
Your SR-22 must be maintained with Washington’s licensing agency for 3 years, according to Washington law. If your insurance coverage lapses during that time, your insurance company is required to report you to the state. Your SR-22 period resets in that case, and you are required to pay any SR-22-related fees again.
What You Need to Know About SR-22 Insurance in Washington:
Who Needs SR-22 Insurance in Washington? Washington requires SR-22 documentation for drivers who are convicted of serious traffic violations. The list includes reckless driving, hit and run, and DUI, among other major offenses.
SR-22 insurance in Washington costs an average of $737 per year, an increase of 5% compared to standard car insurance rates. In addition to an increased premium, it costs between $15 and $25 to file an SR-22 form in Washington, depending on the insurance company.
An SR-22 is a state-issued form verifying that a driver is carrying the minimum amount of car insurance coverage required by the state after they are convicted of a serious violation like DUI or reckless driving. Because an SR-22 designates the policyholder as high-risk, their insurance premium goes up while it’s on file with the state. Drivers in Washington who need to file an SR-22 will also lose any discount related to good driving that they may have previously qualified for.… read full answer
The effect of an SR-22 on the cost of insurance is only temporary, though. In Washington, drivers only need to have their SR-22 on file for 3 years. After that, the driver’s premium will start to go back down, assuming they drive responsibly.
Note: Rates are an approximation based on a driver in Washington with minimum coverage. Actual rates will vary.
High-risk auto insurance in Washington will not be cheap, as premiums for high-risk policies in the state average $1,812 per year. That’s about 47% more than the average cost of car insurance in Washington overall. Nevertheless, high-risk drivers in Washington should still be able to find suitable car insurance options after comparison shopping.… read full answer
Drivers defined as high-risk typically have a history of serious driving violations and face higher rates because they are statistically more likely to cost insurers more than the average driver. For this reason, many insurance companies won’t even sell coverage to high-risk drivers. However, other insurers specialize in high-risk coverage, so drivers with a checkered record have options.
The best high-risk auto insurance companies in Washington are State Farm, The Hartford, Geico because they are financially strong and have few customer complaints. Deficiencies in either area could be a sign you’ll have a hard time getting payouts if you need to file a claim. Some of the most common complaints about car insurance companies concern denials, low settlements, and delays in processing claims. These companies also tend to be among the most affordable in Washington for high-risk drivers, but you should always shop around to compare rates.
Best High-Risk Auto Insurance Companies in Washington
Average Driver Annual Premium
Average High-Risk Annual Premium
Complaint Ratio (NAIC)
Strength Rating (AM Best)
Pro Tip: Look for an insurer with at least an “A” grade for financial stability and a complaint score close to or below the national median of 1.
Cost of high-risk auto insurance in Washington
How much more high-risk drivers pay for auto insurance in Washington depends on why they are classified as high-risk. Your combination of risk factors determines how much more you’ll pay for high-risk auto insurance in Washington. Car insurance companies decide if you are a high-risk driver based heavily on driving factors like accidents, speeding tickets, reckless driving, racing, and DUI/DWI.
For example, Washington drivers with two accidents in their claims history see their rates jump by an average of 92%. If you’re convicted of a DUI, you’ll see an increase of about 28%. And if you’re caught going more than 20 MPH over the speed limit, expect your rates to go up by about 26%, on average.
Non-driving factors like your age, location, insurance history, credit score, and vehicle can also affect how much more high-risk auto insurance costs in Washington. If you get caught driving without insurance, the coverage lapse alone could raise your premium by about 9%. If you have no credit, you can expect to pay about 50% more than drivers with excellent scores.
In other words, your individual combination of risk factors determines how much more you specifically will pay for high-risk auto insurance in Washington.
Tips for finding affordable high-risk car insurance in Washington:
Comparison shop. The best way to get affordable car insurance is to compare rates from at least three insurance companies. In Washington, the most expensive policies are around $1,498, and the least expensive cost about $994. That means drivers could save as much as $504 simply by comparing quotes. At a minimum, check rates three and five years after a traffic violation to get a lower rate when it falls off your record.
Avoid filing claims. Claims can dramatically increase your premium. In Washington, the average collision claim raised rates $542. Before filing a claim, calculate whether the cost of the damage exceeds your deductible plus future premium surcharges.
Have a practical car or go car-free. Some vehicles are more expensive to insure than others. Your car’s make, model, year, safety features, and price tag all impact how much you’ll pay. Consider a practical vehicle that’s more affordable to insure if you’re already high-risk. If the premium is still more than you can afford, you could switch to non-owner car insurance or go car-free for a while.
Drive safely. The easiest way to avoid traffic violations is to obey traffic laws and drive safely. You can’t undo the past, but you can make good choices now. Focus on keeping a clean driving record and consider a driver safety course to potentially lower your premiums right away.
Last-resort options for high-risk drivers in Washington
If you’ve been denied coverage from traditional insurers, look into Washington’s assigned risk program. With assigned risk insurance, drivers who cannot get accepted normally are assigned to insurance companies that collectively pool together to take the risk of insuring them. It’s a last resort, and you’ll have to prove that you’ve tried and failed to get insurance multiple times to qualify.
In the end, the need for high-risk car insurance is a temporary situation. Serious violations like DUIs are on your record for 15 years in Washington, but most violations fall off your record within three to five years. No matter how long it takes, your high-risk status will eventually change with time if you can prove you’re a safe and responsible driver again.
Washington is an at-fault state, which means that the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for everyone injured in the accident. There are no restrictions on the right to sue after an accident in at-fault states, even if the insured buys personal injury protection (PIP).
On average, state minimum coverage costs $1,552 per year in Washington, but there are many factors that can affect how much you pay for a policy. Any coverage above and beyond what is required by Washington law is optional, but it’s usually worth the money to get some additional protection. The biggest reason is that state minimum coverage doesn’t protect your personal vehicle. For insurance to pay for damage to your car, you’ll need full coverage.
In Washington, full coverage refers to a policy that includes collision and comprehensive, plus higher coverage limits than what is required by state law. Full coverage car insurance costs about $4,407 per year in Washington. There may be cases when you don’t need full coverage insurance, but Washington drivers should buy as much coverage as they can afford as a general rule.
Most policies offer coverage for six months to one year at a time and can be paid in a variety of ways, including monthly payments. The best car insurance companies in Washington balance affordability with quality coverage and strong customer service. You can easily get a quote from top companies like American Family, State Farm, Farmers, PEMCO and The Hartford online or over the phone, or use WalletHub’s comparison tools to find the best car insurance policy for your needs.
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