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Cheapest Car Insurance in Washington (WA)

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 rainforests 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.

Average Car Insurance Premiums and Average Car Insurance Premiums as a Percentage of Income

Washington’s average premiums as a percentage of income bumped up from a record low in 2007 to end 2008 at 1.48 percent. Census.gov revealed that the nation’s average in 2008 was nearly .1 percent above the state’s. The nation’s 2008 average premiums number was reported at 789, dipping just below the state’s average of 840.

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.

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. After increasing since 2011, the state shows an upward trend.

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

Washington state has a Mandatory Insurance Law that requires drivers to purchase Liability Insurance and a Liability Bond. Each driver must also pay a deposit to the Washington State Treasurer.

  • 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:
    • $60,000

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
    • Mirrors
    • Windshield wipers
    • Headlights
    • Defrosters
  • 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)

DUI/DWI Laws

  • 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)
  • Refusals.
    • 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.

Unique Laws

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!

State Department of Insurance

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner
302 Sid Snyder Ave. SW
Suite 200
Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 725-7171
www.insurance.wa.gov
Get Directions

Department of Transportation

Washington State Department of Transportation
310 Maple Park Avenue SE
Olympia, WA 98504-7300
(360) 705-7438
www.wsdot.wa.gov
Get Directions

Department of Motor Vehicles

Washington State Department of Licensing
1125 Washington St SE
Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 902-3600
www.dol.wa.gov
Get Directions


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