Last updated on April 26th, 2018
Residents of the state of Washington have four different options to choose from when it comes to insuring a vehicle that is registered in their name. Every vehicle owner in the state must choose one of the following options in order to be eligible to drive their vehicle on a public road. The first option, and the one that most Washington vehicle owners select, is to purchase a liability car insurance policy that meets state requirements. For a liability policy to satisfy Washington car insurance requirements it must include at least $25,000 in bodily injury or death coverage for a single person, $50,000 in bodily injury or death coverage for a single accident and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. Bodily injury or death coverage will cover the costs of any injuries or death that is the result of a car accident that was caused by the policy holder. Property damage liability coverage on the other hand covers the damage to the property of other drivers that occurred in an accident caused by the policy holder. If a Washington vehicle owner opts to purchase a liability car insurance policy for their vehicle they will be required to carry proof of insurance at all times while driving.
The second option available to Washington residents is the purchase of a liability bond from a surety bond company that is authorized to sell the bonds in the state of Washington. For most motorists in the state the purchase of a liability bond isn’t an option due to the $60,000 price tag for a bond that will meet state requirements. Residents that do purchase a liability bond in order to satisfy Washington car insurance requirements are also require to carry proof of this purchase with them at all times while operating a vehicle. Proof of a surety bond must include the name of the company that issued the bond, the bond number and the name of the insured driver. The third option, which is the purchase of a certificate of deposit, also requires that the vehicle owner put forward $60,000 in cash or other assets. A certificate of deposit can be obtained by making a deposit with the State Treasurer or by deposing the money into a bank account set up for the state of Washington. If the money is deposited into a bank account the vehicle owner can freely used any interest generated by the money but cannot withdraw the principal without prior approval from the state. If a Washington resident purchases a certificate of deposit they need to carry proof of this deposit with them at all times while driving. This proof must include the certificate number issued by the state as well as the name of the insured driver. The fourth option available to residents in Washington, known as self-insurance, is really only available to a very small portion of the population due to certain qualifications that must be met. In order to qualify for the option to self-insure a Washington resident must own 26 or more vehicles and they must all be registered in their name with the DMV. For the most part, the only people that are in a position to take advantage of this option are those that own a business with 26 or more vehicles. Like the other three options, residents that choose to self insure must carry proof of self-insurance with them and in every vehicle that they own.
Like most laws, there are a few exceptions in Washington in which a vehicle owner would not be legally required to provide proof of insurance or one of the other alternatives. The most common exceptions to this law are certain types of vehicles, such as motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and even a horse and carriage. Government vehicles are also exempt from having to maintain some type of proof of insurance.
In certain situations a Washington resident may be required by law to prove that they can be financially responsible if they are involved in an accident that is their fault. In most cases the state will require such a drive to provide proof of financial responsibility by obtaining an SR-22 form from their insurance company. Typically, only those drivers that have been convicted of a serious traffic violation or have failed to provide proof of insurance in the past will be required to provide proof of insurance to the state. Operating a vehicle in the state of Washington without one of the four previously mentioned forms of insurance is against the law. Any driver that cannot provide proof of insurance or coverage when pulled over or involved in an accident will be punished with a fine of up to $450 and could also risk having their license and registration suspended in certain cases involving serious traffic violations.