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Seattle Car Insurance: A Guide to Finding the Cheapest Rates

Get Cheap Car Insurance in Seattle
Compare 2-3 companies for the best rate

In 2016, Washington state residents paid about $821 on average for state minimum liability auto insurance,Seattlites, however, pay double or more for their car insurance averaging at $1,700 per year. This article takes a closer look at Seattle car insurance companies and the quotes they offer for various classes of drivers.

Quick Look: Seattle Car Insurance

Seattle Car Insurance Overview

  • Number of vehicles:  1.39 per household (2016 data)
  • Minimum state insurance requirements:
    • Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) $25,000 (per person)
    • $50,000 (per accident)
    • Property Damage Liability (PDL) $10,000
  • Average rate with a clean driving record: $1,700 for state minimum insurance

What You Need to Know Before You Get Coverage

Insurance Minimums

Car insurance is mandatory in Washington. The minimum requirements are what’s known as state minimum car insurance coverage.

Of course, you have to be able to provide proof of insurance if and when asked by a police officer, but only after they have established that they have a legal reason for pulling you over. You also need proof of insurance when renewing your registration, which you can file electronically these days. Your insurance company will send the info to the DMV’s computer system when you renew.

Similar to many states, the minimum car insurance in Washington covers liability only:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – $25,000 (per person) and $50,000 (per accident)
  • Property Damage Liability – $10,000 (per accident)

If you are at fault, the minimum policy covers the expenses of the other party up to the insured amount. The amount might not be enough in case of a serious accident. This is why some people opt for higher limits. If you own assets that the other people can go after, this might make a lot of sense.

You can also add uninsured and underinsured motorist, which typically starts at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. That’s if somebody hit your car and they don’t have any or enough insurance to cover your damages.

You might also want to get Basic Personal Injury Protection (PIP), especially if your medical insurance doesn’t cover automotive accidents.

Washington Driving Laws

Teen driving. Teenagers aged 16 can get an intermediate driver’s license in Washington state. To qualify, they need to pass the driver’s license exam and education course. Prior to that, they need to have an instruction permit for 6 months with 50 hours of supervised driving.

Texting and driving. It’s illegal to text and drive, not even if you are stuck in traffic. The fine for first-time offenders is $136, which jumps to $234 for the second offense. Cell phone or electronics distractions are reported to insurance companies.

Distractions. Seattle police officers are allowed to issue a $99 ticket for eating, smoking, doing make-up, and just about anything to drivers who appear distracted while driving.

Pedestrians and bicyclists. Seattle’s culture promotes walking and biking throughout the city. While it may be common knowledge to yield to both pedestrians and bicyclists, it is good practice to be aware of the many crosswalks, bike lanes, and bike boxes that are used for bike traffic on city roads.

What You Can Expect to Pay for Car Insurance in Seattle

Rates Per Vehicle

Your car insurance rates are partially based on your vehicle. Car insurance providers take information on your vehicle’s type, make, model, and production year. From there, they’ll figure out what vehicles to charge less or more.

In any event, don’t hesitate to get a quote and see for yourself. You might think that Toyotas and Hondas are cheap but that’s not always true. Today’s car thieves target popular makes of cars far more so than exotic cars. Car thieves simply sell stolen cars to networks that can take them apart and resell the parts. And parts for popular car models are in much higher demand.

Japanese cars are the most popular in Seattle. There are 57,000 Toyotas, 43,000 Hondas, and 28,00 Subarus on the streets of Seattle. Further down, Ford and Volkswagen are tied at fourth and Mercedes and BMW made the top 10.

Regardless of the manufacturer, you can offset the purchase of an electric vehicle in Seattle. Tax breaks up to $2,500 are available to those who purchase a non-luxury electric car and even receive discounts on your monthly car insurance premium.

Rates by Credit Score

In most U.S. states, Washington included, insurance companies use your credit score to determine the insurance premium. Simply put, lower credit scores result in higher insurance premiums.

Each insurance provider may take a different approach here based on their data. In this age of data, your data can and will be used against you. Car insurance companies have figured out that those with poor credit are also more likely to file insurance claims.

That’s one more reason to pay attention to your credit score and learn how to improve your score. In the meantime, find out in the following table what you can expect to pay.

Credit ScoreCheapest ProviderRate for State Minimum Coverage
Poor 300-579GEICO$2,308
Fair 580-669PEMCO$1,891
Good 670-739PEMCO$1,699
Excellent 740+Allstate$1,604

Rates for Drivers with a Clean Record

One of the best ways to save money on car insurance is to maintain a clean driving record. This means your driving history shouldn’t show any at-fault accidents or major traffic violations.

When you think about it, the benefits of being a safe driver are multifold. You save money on insurance and fines. And the benefits may apply to different insurance options. On the other hand, you might be able to salvage something if you have a few marks on your record. For a start, completing a defensive driving class might offset some of the higher rates imposed on suspect drivers.

The Washington state minimum covers liability only. If you add collision, comprehensive, and such, the annual cost can quickly add up.

Insurance AgencyState Minimum InsuranceStandard CoverageFull Coverage
PEMCO$1,198$1,271$1,616
State Farm $1,334$1,589$1,740
GEICO$1,410$1,745$2,065
USAA$950$1,300$1,632
Allstate$1,250$1,536$1,988

Rates with Driving Infractions

As you might agree, some infractions might be inevitable. You may forget to put your seatbelt on or inadvertently park outside of the permitted time frame. These won’t automatically jack up your insurance rate – you’ll have to get caught and plead guilty or be convicted first, Even then, minor infractions might not affect your driving record too much.

In contrast, excessive speeding, DUI, and reckless driving are considered major offenses in Washington. If convicted, it might burn a hole in your pocket. Whatever the applicable fine and supercharges you only have to pay once, but insurance providers can charge you more for at least 3 years after the conviction.

But there’s a silver lining. Thanks to the competition, some insurance companies may offer decent quotes even for drivers with less than stellar records. Check out the table below.

Insurance Agency At Fault Accident Speed Violation DUI
State Farm $2,336$2,000$2,590
Allstate$2,405$1,978$2,680
USAA$1,683$1,500$1,997
Pemco$1,851$1,457$2,409
GEICO$1,934$1,599$2,468

The Best Auto Insurance Providers in Seattle

When most people shop for car insurance, they’re looking for the most affordable coverage, but only if they are fairly confident that the providers are pretty much the same. Namely, you’ll be able to get a hold of someone on the phone at any time, the provider makes it easy to file a claim and follow through with it, and so on and so forth.

To make it easier, the following sections break it all down for you. Of courses, low prices wouldn’t hurt, especially if you want more than just the state minimum coverage.

Best Overall: GEICO

Founded in 1937, GEICO is among the oldest insurance providers in the U.S. And certainly, the most aggressively marketed. A good majority of Americans can’t go through a single day without seeing a GEICO commercial.

In any event, rest assured that there are plenty of things that make GEICO the top car insurance provider in Seattle. Just take a look at the rates for minimum state insurance. At $1,410, it is only slightly above the national average.

Furthermore, GEICO has one of the highest customer satisfaction rates at 97%, according to Alan Newman Research. You get round-the-clock customer support with short wait times (if any at all) and friendly and helpful representatives. You can file a claim online or by phone and everything will be arranged for you.

The company offers the whole shebang of coverage options. If you can name it, they probably have it. For example, they offer an umbrella policy which adds more coverage to the state minimum liability insurance.

Read Benzinga’s full GEICO Auto Insurance Review

Cheapest Car Insurance in Seattle, WA: PEMCO

PEMCO’s $1,198 average for state minimum insurance is hard to beat. If you take a look at their offers for drivers with infractions and non-perfect credit scores, it’s easy to conclude it’s the cheapest provider in Seattle.

Besides you and your family members, PEMCO’s auto insurance can cover your pets as well. The company offers discounts for alumni of the University of Washington and certain accident and minor ticket forgiveness if you’ve been a safe driver with the company for 5 or more years.

Ranked #1 by JD Power in the northwest for car insurance provider, choosing PEMCO will not only save you money but is a great option for service.

Best Full Coverage Car Insurance: State Farm

State Farm is the best and cheapest full coverage option in Seattle. Ranked highly by customers and consumer reports, State Farm will cover your car, home, life, and more. Multiple discounts can be applied when bundling your policies with State Farm.

State Farm’s mobile app is also a huge perk. A policyholder can quickly access insurance cards, communicate with their agent and even uploads photos of damage if need be.

Find Additional Providers for Seattle, WA
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Parting Words for Drivers in Seattle

Drivers in Seattle know how challenging the roads can be. Sudden lane changes and merging are common and can be scary. The good news is that you don’t need to break the bank to get car insurance. There are bargains to be had for all drivers, safe or otherwise.

Want to learn more about car insurance? Check out Benzinga’s guides to the best cheap car insurance companies, the best temporary car insurance and the best high-risk car insurance companies.