The state of Washington sits in the northwestern-most corner of the contiguous United States, and it gets its “Evergreen State” nickname from the abundance of evergreen trees that make up its beautiful forests. With 62 percent of its population living in the Seattle area, the state’s wilderness areas draw tourists to their wide open spaces. The North Cascades hold professional-grade ski resorts, the Olympic Mountains hold exotic rain forests and the foothills of the Blue Mountains boast an abundance of agriculture. With so many different climates in one state, there is no shortage of sights and sounds in this Pacific Northwest State. Drivers of all kinds come for the scenery, and giving them time to get out and experience it is the reason CheapCarInsurance.net has organized this list of the important car insurance facts and laws for the state.
Car Insurance Quotes for Washington
King County Car Insurance
Home to an estimated 2 million residents, King County is the most populous county in Washington, encompassing the state capital of Seattle, numerous other cities and two islands in Puget Sound. About two thirds of the population lives in suburbs. "SeaTac" is an incorporated, 10-square-mile city that surrounds the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Seattle's port is a major hub for trade with Asia and the fourth largest in North America. The birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and grunge rock, the city of Seattle draws tourists to its famous Space Needle, Museum of Flight and Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operated public farmer's markets in the U.S.
Pierce County Car Insurance
Home of Mount Rainier, the tallest peak in Cascade Range, Pierce County has about 800,000 residents. The port city of Tacoma is its county seat, located about 30 miles from Seattle. It was named for President Franklin Pierce, the county has been largely agricultural, producing 50 percent of the U.S. supply of rhubarb.
Visitors to Pierce County are drawn to the Glass Museum and Bridge, a 500-foot pedestrian corridor that links the museum and downtown Tacoma. Point Defiance Park is a 700-plus acre public green space that includes a zoo and aquarium, rose garden, boat houses, boardwalk and beaches. The LeMay Museum is an old boys' boarding school-turned-car-museum, with more than 2,000 vehicles on exhibit.
Snohomish County Car Insurance
Just north of Seattle, Snohomish County is the third most populous in Washington, with about 773,000 residents. Its county seat is Everett, the city with the largest public marina on the West Coast. Snohomish County is named for a Native American tribe that inhabited the area.
The city of Mukilteo, a name that translates into "good camping ground" is the site of the Washington State Ferries, and is considered one of the most affluent suburbs of Seattle. It is also home to the only public tour of a commercial jet facility in North America, a Boeing plant assembling 747, 777 and 787 aircraft.
Spokane County Car Insurance
Named for the Spokane tribe, Washington's fourth most populous county lies at its eastern border, bisected by Interstate 90. It has a population of about 480,000, and its county seat, the city of Spokane, is the state's second largest after Seattle.
The Spokane River flows through the county seat, and residents visit Riverfront Park and Centennial Trail for scenic recreation. The river flows over Spokane Falls in downtown Spokane. At 5,888 feet, Mount Spokane is the highest point in the county, and one of the tallest peaks in the Inland Northwest.
Clark County Car Insurance
Between Portland across the Columbia River and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is Clark County, named for William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Vancouver, the county seat and largest city, is considered the largest suburb of Portland and is frequent contender among "Best Places to Live" rankings.
Clark County is surrounded on two sides by the Columbia River, and by part of the Lewis River on its northern border. Vancouver has hosted a large Fourth of July fireworks show every year since the mid-1960s, with the exception of 2009 due to the death of the celebration's main organizer, Jim "Mister Fireworks" Larson. Vancouver's Wine and Jazz Festival in August is considered one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest.
Thurston County Car Insurance
Encompassing the state capital of Olympia, Thurston County lies at the southern end of Puget Sound, home to more than 260,000 residents. About an hour from Seattle, Olympia is also the county seat.
Completed in 1928, the state capital building is open for public tours. Thurston County is also a popular location for ecotourism, with the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Priest Point Park and Percival Landing among attractions. The Olympia Farmer's Market is the second largest open air market in the state.
Kitsap County Car Insurance
Directly across Puget Sound from Seattle is Kitsap County, named for Chief Kitsap of the Suquamish Tribe. The county's largest employer is the U.S. Navy, with three installations. Its seat is the small city of Port Orchard, and largest city is Bremerton, home to about 40,500.
Occupying most of what is called the Kitsap Peninsula, the county is connected to the eastern shore counties via the Washington State Ferries. It includes Bainbridge Island, an incorporated city that occupies the entire island, and Blake Island, which has been preserved as a state park and only accessible by tour boat or private boat.
Yakima County Car Insurance
Indian Reservation that takes up more than a third of its area, Yakima County is home to 244,000 residents. Traversed by Interstate 82, the area is one of the premier apple-growing regions in the world and the largest producer of hops in the country. The City of Yakima, about an hour southeast of Mount Rainier, is the county seat.
The Yakima Valley is popular as a wine region, and winery tours are popular with visitors. It is home to the Central Washington State Fair, held in State Fair Park each fall, and the Yakima Folklife and Hope Ale festivals.
Whatcom County Car Insurance
Located in north Washington at the Canada-U.S. border, Whatcom County is the largest producer of raspberries in the U.S., harvesting more than 70 percent of U.S.-grown berries. Its seat and largest city is Bellingham, about 80 miles north of Seattle and home to roughly 68,000.
Whatcom County has more drive-up espresso stands per capita than any other Washington county, with names such as "Shot in the Dark" and "Brewed Awakening." Bellingham is home to the American Museum of Radio and Electricity, which boasts one of the largest collection of antique radios open to the public. The Lynden Pioneer Museum has the largest public collection of horse-drawn buggies, and Ferndale is home to the Pacific Northwest's Biggest Barn.
Benton County Car Insurance
In south central Washington, Benton County is home to an estimated 176,000. Its county seat is Prossner, a small town on the Yakima River with 40 wineries and two microbreweries. The Benton County cities of Kennewick and Richland, along with the City of Pasco in neighboring Franklin County form what is called the Tri-Cities area, which has more than 200 wineries within a one-hour drive and 10 public golf courses.
The county is also home to the tallest "treeless" mountain in the western hemisphere, Rattlesnake Mountain. Boasting the first lighthouse built in the U.S. Since 1962, Clover Island is an entertainment destination on the Columbia River near downtown Kennewick, with restaurants, a hotel and yacht club.
Car insurance quotes are for one car and one driver who has state minimum coverage with $500 comprehensive and collision deductibles. The hypothetical driver is 40 years old, female, married, employed, a college graduate, and has good credit. She has no moving violations, claims, or lapse in coverage. The vehicles are assumed to be garaged on premises, used primarily for commuting, and driven 16,000 miles per year. Car insurance quotes include commonly available discounts and are estimates and not guaranteed.
Average Car Insurance Premiums
Washington’s average premiums as a percentage of income bumped up from a record low in 2007 to end 2008 at 1.48 percent. NAIC.org revealed that the nation’s average in 2008 was nearly .1 percent above the state’s. After a spike in 2009 the average has mostly dropped and remains below the national average.
Drunk Driving Fatalities
After a large increase in 2011, Washington’s drunk driving fatalities decreased slightly to 33 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded the nation’s 2012 average just below the state’s at 31 percent. Since then fatalities have dropped and the state is below the national average as of 2014.
Vehicular Theft in Washington
In the FBI’s 2012 report, Washington’s vehicle theft rate was recorded at 382, approximately 150 points above the national average. The rates have continually risen in the last few years and are now well above the national average.
LAWS & REGULATIONS
Insurance laws and regulations are not only confusing, they are constantly switching and changing. After diligently hunting down all the facts and figures for Washington’s driving laws, this list was developed into an easily-readable format containing everything necessary to safely drive in Washington.
Washington’s Minimum Requirements for Car Insurance
- Liability minimums:
- $25,000 per individual.
- $50,000 per injury traffic accident
- $10,000 per traffic accident in which property was damaged.
- Liability Bond minimum:
Failure to provide proof of insurance results in a citation.
New Driver Licensing Requirements
- The Washington State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires every new driver to practice driving prior to obtaining a regular driver license. Depending on the applicant’s age, different requirements are needed.
- Instruction Permit. Applicants who are enrolled in an approved driver education course may obtain their permit at age 15. Applicants not yet enrolled in a course may obtain their permit at age 15 years, 6 months. Completion of the knowledge test and the vision test is required for the application.
- As long as the permit is valid, the applicant may drive with a licensed driver who has held his/her license for 5 years or more.
- While holding this permit, the applicant must log 40 hours of driving plus 10 hours of night driving.
- While the permit is valid for one year, applicants under 18 must hold the permit for a minimum of 6 months prior to applying for their license. Applicants 18 or older do not have a time requirement to hold the permit.
- Once the requirements for the Instruction Permit are fulfilled, the applicant may take the road skills test and apply for the full driver license. If the applicant receives his/her license and is under 18, the following restrictions apply:
- First 6 months: Only immediate family members and one passenger under 20 is allowed in the vehicle.
- Next 6 months: Only immediate family members and up to three passengers under the age of 20 are permitted in the vehicle.
- First 12 months: May not drive unsupervised between 1am and 5am.
- No cell phone use is permitted.
- Vision Screening. A visual acuity of 20/40 or better along with a field of vision of 110 degrees or better are the requirements for the vision test. The test may be taken with or without corrective lenses, and the lenses, if used, must be worn at all times while driving.
- Knowledge Test. To pass this test, 20 out of the 25 multiple choice questions must be answered correctly. The Washington State Driver’s Manual provides all the information needed to pass the test. Upon failing the test the first time, the applicant may re-take it after 4 hours. Upon failing a second time, the applicant must wait 1 day for the re-test.
- Road Test. The test administrator will inspect the applicant-provided vehicle for the following equipment:
- Brakes and brake lights
- Turn signals
- Seat belts
- Passenger door functioning properly
- Driver door window must roll down
- Windshield wipers
- A score of 80 is needed to pass, and re-test times are determined by the testing facility. The DMV website provides much more information regarding the specifics of the driving test.
- Fees. These fees are required from every applicant:
- Learner Permit: $25
- Regular License: $89 ($35 plus a $54 issuance fee)
- BAC limit: .08 The definitions for DUI offenses and convictions are held in Washington’s State Law R.C.W. § 46.61.502. The following is a brief overview of the major penalties for DUI convictions in the state.
- First Offense:
- License suspension: 90 days to 1 year
- Fine: $850 to $5,000
- Imprisonment: 24 hour to 1 year
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on the driver’s vehicle(s)
- Second Offense within 7 years:
- License suspension: 2 to 3 years
- Fine: $1,100 to $5,000
- Imprisonment: 30 days to 1 year
- IID installed on the driver’s vehicle(s)
- Third Offense within 7 years:
- License suspension: 3 to 4 years
- Fine: $1,200 to $5,000
- Imprisonment: 90 days to 1 year
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on the driver’s vehicle(s)
- First Offense: Mandatory license suspension of 1 year
- Second Offense: Mandatory license suspension of 2 years
- Third Offense: Mandatory license suspension of 3 years
Texting & Driving Laws
Novice drivers may not use a cellphone while driving, and no driver may text or use a handheld cell phone device while driving. Distraction.gov.
Many of Washington’s laws are unique enough to require no explanation. One such law prohibits residents from riding an ugly horse, and another makes it illegal to give “noxious substances” to a bird as long as it is in a city park. No one may fish with a rock, and fake wrestling is illegal!