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Washington State Car Insurance Guide and Regulations

Colburn Law

The moments after a car accident can be confusing and disorienting. In this situation, you may be unsure what you should do next — and when the medical bills and repair invoices start to come in, you can face significant financial hardship due to expenses you were not prepared for. However, you can claim compensation for your damages through an insurance claim — and to do so, you have to understand how the Washington insurance system operates.

Minimum Insurance Requirements in Washington State

Washington is a fault car insurance state, which means that the driver responsible for the accident is also responsible for paying for the damages suffered by other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. To receive compensation for your injuries in an accident, you can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, file a lawsuit in civil court, or file a claim with your own insurance company.

To operate a vehicle lawfully in Washington state, you must carry a certain amount of liability insurance to cover your expenses in case you are at-fault for an accident.

  • $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person per accident you caused
  • $50,000 in total bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 in property damage coverage per accident

What Is Full Coverage Insurance?

In Washington state, the law only requires you to purchase liability coverage in the event that you cause an accident. However, full coverage insurance means that you have purchased beyond the minimum liability coverage, expanding into different coverage options as well.

A typical full coverage auto insurance plan usually includes the following components.

  • Liability insurance: A full coverage plan will include at least the minimum liability coverage requirements that Washington imposes. You can choose to purchase higher amounts of this coverage if you wish.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This coverage will usually pay for most physical damage that occurs to your vehicle outside of an accident. You can claim compensation for damage caused by the weather, fire, theft, hitting an animal on the road, and many other events under this policy.
  • Collision coverage: You will usually have to purchase collision coverage in tandem with comprehensive coverage, and full coverage insurance usually includes both. With this insurance, you will receive coverage for any damage that occurs in any accident, regardless of fault. Collision coverage typically pays for damage that your vehicle sustains when it hits another car, when you crash into a tree, pot hole, or ditch, and many other accidents.
  • Personal injury protection: Injuries can occur in many types of accidents, regardless of fault and regardless of medical insurance status. Since medical bills can be very expensive, the personal injury protection option in full coverage insurance is especially useful. This coverage will help pay for your medical expenses up to a certain amount in accidents that you are involved in.

There is no truly full coverage auto insurance plan in Washington state — there will always be exceptions to what your insurance company will and will not pay for, and policy limits do put a cap on your compensation.

However, full coverage auto insurance comes the closest to complete, comprehensive coverage. You can also purchase extra insurance not included in the full coverage plan for additional protection, such as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

Claiming Compensation Through a Full Coverage Insurance Claim

While you may purchase full coverage insurance, receiving compensation from an insurance company after an accident can be difficult. It is not in the company’s best interest to reward you with maximum possible compensation, and it may take a long time for the company to issue you a check. Hiring an attorney to assist you with your insurance claim

Your personal injury lawyer can meet with insurance representatives and negotiate for a higher settlement on your behalf, and evaluate any offers the company may present to you. Contact your personal injury attorney as soon as you can following your accident to discuss how to file your insurance claim and the next steps you need to take.