Best car insurance in Washington for 2021

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If you are looking for the best auto insurance in Washington, look no further than Bankrate’s top five picks for your money in the state. USAA and Geico topped our list for the best car insurance in Washington, based on diverse factors such as financial strength, great pricing and customer satisfaction.

The average cost of car insurance in Washington is $1,176 per year for a full coverage policy. By comparison, the rest of the country pays nearly $500 more, on average. However, Washington state presents challenges that drivers in other states may not have to consider, such as fog or heavy snow. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Washington tallied 494 fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2019, resulting in 519 deaths. Safety considerations may be one reason you seek to find the best car insurance in Washington, but with endless options, it may help to have a starting place. To aid your search, Bankrate researched multiple Washington auto insurance providers to narrow down 2021’s best options for car insurance.

Best car insurance companies in Washington

Bankrate’s editorial team determined the top five car insurance companies in Washington to be Geico, PEMCO, Progressive, State Farm and USAA. These companies were chosen through careful analysis of the 2021 J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study, comparison of quoted annual premiums and individualized factors such as discounts offered, coverage options, digital app experience and overall customer service.

Company 2021 J.D. Power score (Northwest region) Average annual full coverage premium
Geico 821/1,000 $912
PEMCO 835/1,000 $952
Progressive 817/1,000 $974
State Farm 844/1,000 $951
USAA *884/1,000 $818

*USAA is considered rank-ineligible by J.D. Power due to membership restrictions

Geico

Geico is known for affordable coverage, and in Washington, that reputation stands. With full coverage policies averaging $912 per year, Geico quotes the second-cheapest rates of this year’s picks. Aside from its standard coverage options, Geico has options for emergency roadside assistance coverage, rental reimbursement and mechanical breakdown insurance. The company offers more than 15 discounts, ranging from simple checks such as wearing a seat belt to being accident-free for five years.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

PEMCO

For Washingtonians looking for local coverage, PEMCO may be your first place to start the search. Based in Seattle, Washington, the company earned the third-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

Progressive often ranks highly in the 2021 J.D. Power survey. 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.

Learn more: Progressive Insurance review

State Farm

State Farm received the second-highest customer satisfaction score in the 2021 J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study. 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. 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.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

USAA

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.

Learn more: USAA Insurance review

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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, based on quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services. 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. Lower car insurance premiums in Washington may be attributed to relatively low population density. Washington also has the third most electric vehicles by market share and car insurance companies often offer lower rates to customers with electronic vehicles.

Average annual premium for minimum coverage in Washington Average annual premium for full coverage in Washington
$463 $1,176

State minimum insurance requirements in Washington

Like most states, a minimum amount of car insurance is required in Washington to drive legally. A Washington driver must carry for a registered vehicle a minimum coverage of 25/50/10, which includes:

  • $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. If the damages incurred in a crash exceed the amount your policy covers, you may have to pay the remaining balance out of pocket. That means purchasing a full-coverage policy could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run. Failure to show proof of coverage at an accident could result in a fine.

If you lease or finance your vehicle, your leaseholder or lienholder may require you to purchase full coverage insurance to ensure that in the event of an accident, the car can be repaired or replaced.

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. To start, Washington drivers will likely want to consider their individual needs alongside state factors that may sway their decision.

  • Evaluate your needs: Drivers must understand their circumstances and discuss them with their local agent when shopping for the best auto insurance in Washington for their needs. For instance, 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 to see if you can save on premiums with reduced usage. If you have an accident history, you consider the telematics programs offered by some companies, which track your driving in real-time and reward you for safety behind the wheel. If you are planning to insure teen drivers, discounts for good students might help with insurance costs.
  • Consider state factors: For the state’s 5.7 million drivers, safety is a serious consideration. Washington ranks seventh in states with the most extreme weather, according to the Buffalo News. Add-on coverage options such as roadside assistance, engine protection and rental car reimbursement would be applicable in these situations. According to the III, 21.7% of Washingtonian motorists are uninsured, ranking Washington as the fifth-highest state with uninsured motorists. Adding on uninsured motorist coverage can help protect drivers financially 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:

  • Having multiple policies with the same company: If you hold home or life insurance policies with the same company, policy bundling discounts are a great way to save money.
  • Agreeing to install a monitoring device: If you have a hefty accident history, you may still qualify for safe driving discounts. Certain companies will install telematics devices that track your driving in real-time, and reward you for safe practices.
  • Club or group membership discount: Several top car insurance providers offer discounts to professional groups. Geico offers discounts to a portfolio of over 500 professional and alumni groups.
  • Safe driving history: If you have a clean driving history, many car insurance companies in Washington will offer you discounted rates.

Many Washington insurance companies also offer discounts to members of the military, teachers, loyal customers, drivers who take defensive driving courses and those who sign on to group insurance policies. The best discounts will vary from driver to driver, based on what deals apply to you.

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 can help you review multiple providers quickly.

What is the cheapest car insurance in Washington?

The cheapest car insurance in Washington will be different for every driver. To find the best rates for your situation, one option is to get online quotes from the top car insurance companies in the area and see how they compare. Discounts can significantly lower your premium. While State Farm, Geico, and Progressive offer competitive discounts for a variety of circumstances, it will be necessary to contact each auto company to see how your rates could be affected by applicable discounts.

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 want to opt for more coverage than a standard policy includes, like mechanical breakdown coverage. Upon renewal, rates may increase or decrease based on any changes to those variables, namely your driving history.

Is there a way to avoid having to buy car insurance in Washington?

An individual can opt to self-insure in Washington if they have 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 require auto insurance, but motorcycles do.

Methodology

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.

Written by
Lizzie Nealon
Insurance Writer
Lizzie Nealon is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Her favorite part of the job is making home, auto and life insurance digestible for readers so they can prepare for the future.
Edited by
Insurance Editor