Washington drivers usually pay less for car insurance than the national average at $463 per year for minimum coverage and $1,176 per year for full coverage. However, Washington state presents challenges that drivers in other states may not have to consider, such as fog or heavy snow. For the state’s 5.7 million drivers, safety is a serious consideration. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Washingtonians drove more than 62.5 million miles in 2019. The state tallied 494fatal motor vehicle crashes, resulting in 519 deaths.
Even with more affordable car insurance rates, choosing appropriate coverage could be a daunting task. Most people consider premiums, policy options and discounts when comparing coverage, but there a multitude of factors that may impact your final decision. To aid in this process, Bankrate researched multiple Washington auto insurance companies to narrow down 2021’s best options.
Best car insurance companies in Washington
We have found the five best car insurance companies in Washington based on 2020 J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study ranks in the Northwest region, where Washington state is located, and average quoted premiums within the state. Each company was further assessed for its coverage options and available savings for drivers.
|Company||2020 J.D. Power score (Northwest region)||Average annual full coverage premium|
|Geico||834 / 1,000||$912|
|PEMCO||827 / 1,000||$952|
|Progressive||821 / 1,000||$974|
|State Farm||814 / 1,000||$951|
|USAA||*883 / 1,000||$818|
*USAA is considered rank-ineligible by J.D. Power due to membership restrictions
Geico is known for affordable coverage, and in Washington, that reputation stands. With full coverage policies averaging $919 per year, Geico quotes the second-cheapest rates of this year’s picks. The company also ranked as the number one provider in the Northwest, earning an above-average customer satisfaction rating of 834 of 1,000 points. Aside from its standard coverage options, Geico has options for emergency roadside assistance coverage, rental reimbursement and mechanical breakdown insurance. There are more than 15 discounts available, ranging from simple checks such as wearing a seat belt to being accident-free for five years.
For Washingtonians looking for local coverage, PEMCO may be your first place to start the search. Based in Seattle, Washington, the company earned the second-highest customer satisfaction ranking in the Northwest region. PEMCO has options exclusively available to drivers in the state such as key replacement and recoding, custom parts and camper, canopy and tonneau cover coverage. If you have a pet, you can add additional protection up to $1,000 in a covered loss. Other coverages include rideshare and rental cars.
PEMCO also offers multiple discounts, including one for being a University of Washington graduate.
Progressive often ranks highly in J.D. Power surveys, including in the 2020 Auto Insurance Study where it ranked third in the Northwest region. Progressive offers gap insurance and coverage for custom parts and equipment. If you are looking for policies that allow you to save in addition to discounts, Progressive has disappearing deductibles, where drivers can save $50 off their full coverage premium every six-month policy period.
With local State Farm car insurance agents in every Washington city, it could be a great option for drivers who prefer face-to-face interaction when discussing their policy. There are options to insure rental vehicles as well as sports and classic cars. Whether you are a teen driver, have a vehicle equipped with safety features or plan to have multiple policies with the company, there are savings opportunities with many discounts ranging from at least 10-25%. While not offered in all states, State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save discount program is available to Washington drivers and has the potential to save you up to 30% or more on premiums for safe driving.
With several military bases in Washington, USAA may be your first check for auto insurance in the state. Though it only writes policies for military members, veterans and their families, USAA has some of the most affordable coverage for those who qualify for membership. The company consistently earns high J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores, though it is rank-ineligible due to membership restrictions. Its coverage and discounts have military members in mind, like its 15% discount for garaging a vehicle on base. USAA also launched a new safe-driving program this year called SafePilot, which allows policyholders to receive a 10% discount for signing up and up to 30% off your policy after renewal with safe driving habits.
Average car insurance cost in Washington
The average Washington auto insurance policy costs $463 per year for minimum coverage and $1,176 per year for full coverage. Compared to the national annual averages of $565 and $1,674 for minimum and full coverage, respectively, Washington drivers pay as much as $498 less per year.
|Average annual premium for minimum coverage in Washington||Average annual premium for full coverage in Washington|
State minimum insurance requirements in Washington
- $25,000 of bodily injury or death of one individual in an accident
- $50,000 of bodily injury or death of two individuals in an accident
- $10,000 of property damage coverage in an accident
Comprehensive insurance coverage is not mandatory, but is encouraged by most insurance experts, as it may protect you from costly repair and medical bills. Failure to show proof of coverage at an accident could result in a fine.
How to get the best car insurance
Every driver will have their own personal criteria when looking for car insurance providers, whether they are brand new to coverage or looking to make a carrier switch. Washington drivers will likely want to consider factors in the state as a first step, including minimum requirements and average rates, and then begin submitting for quotes.
Although obtaining the minimum coverage is usually gets you the cheapest car insurance, it is usually a better idea to buy more than the minimum coverage in auto insurance. It may cost more in premiums, however, it could save more money in the long run. Adding more than the requirement to car insurance could help drivers pay for damage done to their vehicle or injuries to passengers in the event of an unanticipated accident. Check with local insurance agents to discover which add-ons or coverage options are available.
Evaluate your individual needs
Drivers can evaluate their car insurance needs based on their circumstances. Various factors go into the total cost of your annual car insurance premium such as gender, age, marital status, credit score, driving record and history, vehicle make and model, and more. Drivers must understand their circumstances and discuss them with their local agent when shopping for the right car insurance premium.
For example, many Washington residents own two vehicles per household and have an average commute time of 26.5 minutes. Considering these factors, you may want to target companies that offer multi-vehicle discounts or even consider other ways to commute, like by public transport, to see if you can save on premiums with reduced usage. These factors and more could impact which policy is the best for you.
Consider state factors
Most insurance companies offer additional add-on coverage options. Considering Washington’s various geographical and environmental factors across the state, drivers might consider add-ons depending on location. For example, Seattle gets on average 37 inches of rain across half the year. Those living in Seattle may want to consider add-ons like engine protection cover and emergency roadside assistance.
According to the III, 21.7% of Washingtonian motorists are uninsured, ranking Washington as the fifth-highest state with uninsured motorists. Because of this, Washington drivers may want to consider adding on uninsured motorist coverage to protect them against any charges from an accident with an uninsured driver.
Car insurance discounts in Washington
Most car insurance companies offer discounts to help drivers lower their insurance premiums. Some of the general discounts include good student, good driver and multi-policy. However, depending on the Washington insurance company you choose, providers may offer additional discounts for:
- Military service
- Enrollment in an accredited college or university
- Working as a first responder (police, EMT, fire fighter)
- Working as a teacher
- Having multiple policies with the same company
- Policy longevity
- Taking safe driving courses
- Agreeing to install a monitoring device
- Signing on to a group insurance policy
- Club or group membership discount
- Safe driving history
Frequently asked questions
What are the best car insurance companies in Washington?
Washington is home to many of the best car insurance companies. Depending on your needs, you may opt for a provider offering more local coverage and state-exclusive discounts, or you may choose one that is nationally trusted and well-reviewed. Consulting third-party sources ratings such as J.D. Power could also be a good starting point to review multiple provider quickly.
What is needed to get car insurance in Washington?
You can prepare your personal information like your security number and driver’s license details ahead of time to begin submitting for car insurance quotes. In general, providers also request information about your location, the cars you will be insuring and your driving history. You may choose to speak to an agent in person or over the phone, but most policies can be purchased online.
What are the factors that influence car insurance premiums?
Several factors like your ZIP code, age of drivers on your policy and credit score could impact your insurance premiums. Depending on your car insurance needs, you may also opt for more coverage than a standard policy includes like mechanical breakdown coverage.
Once you have a policy, your insurer may increase your premiums after an accident or even decrease your rates if you sign up for certain savings, like safe-driving programs.
Is there a way to avoid having to buy car insurance in Washington?
An individual can opt to self-insure if he or she has 26 vehicles or more. Proof of this self-insurance must always be carried by drivers of the vehicles. A driver can also opt to have a liability bond of at least $60,000 from a surety bond company authorized by Washington or a certificate of deposit to pay your liability insurance in lieu of auto insurance. Motor scooters and mopeds do not need auto insurance, but motorcycles do.
Since car insurance is otherwise mandatory in the state, the average Washington driver will likely want to purchase car insurance to remain financially protected in case of an accident.
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.