Washington State only requires drivers to buy and maintain liability coverage to pay the medical bills and property damage of other people if the policyholder is at fault for a car accident.
So, to follow the law on minimum auto insurance, no, you do not have to carry uninsured motorist coverage in Washington State. There are plenty of reasons, however, to buy this optional type of motor vehicle insurance.
Situations in Which You Will Wish You Had Uninsured Motorist Coverage
You will wish you had uninsured motorist coverage if you are in a car accident and:
- The at-fault driver is uninsured, in other words, does not have motor vehicle insurance. Some people do not buy the required auto insurance, or their policies lapse because of non-payment. Your liability insurance only pays the damages of other people if you cause a wreck, not your damages if somebody causes a wreck with you. So, if you only carry liability coverage, your insurance company will not pay your medical bills and other damages. If you have UM coverage, it will pay your damages if an uninsured driver caused the wreck.
- Your vehicle is in a wreck with a hit and run driver. Since the car did not stay at the scene, you have no way to find out which insurance company should pay your damages. If the other driver caused the crash but took off, your liability coverage does not cover your damages. Your uninsured motorist coverage would cover your damages.
- An uninsured or hit-and-run driver struck you when you were a pedestrian or bicyclist. Your uninsured motorist coverage may cover you if you were a bicyclist or pedestrian at the time of the wreck.
Related Coverage: Underinsured Motorist Coverage
The minimum required coverage in Washington State is:
- $10,000 for property damage
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $50,000 total for all injuries or deaths in an accident
The medical bills in a significant crash can exceed the minimum coverage of $25,000. If the at-fault driver carries only the minimum coverage or has higher limits, but they are not enough to pay all your damages, you will be stuck with the excess medical bills to pay on your own.
To avoid getting caught in this situation, you can buy optional under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage as part of your auto insurance. The way UIM coverage works is that the at-fault motorist’s insurance pays first. After you reach the policy limits from that company, your UIM insurance should cover your damages that exceed the other driver’s coverage.
Another Option to Protect Yourself: PIP
Personal injury protection (PIP) is a first-party coverage that can pay some of your damages from a car accident, whether you or the other driver was at fault.
Washington State does not require drivers to buy PIP coverage, but your insurance company has to offer it. PIP can pay medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses. PIP usually has relatively low policy limits, but the coverage can make the difference in having enough money to pay your damages.
Learn more about other types of optional car insurance coverage that may help after an accident with an uninsured or hit and run driver.
Get Help After a Car Accident With an Uninsured or Hit and Run Driver
If you suffered an injury in a car crash caused by an uninsured or hit and run driver, and you have questions about whose insurance coverage should pay your losses, call the Kirkland car accident attorneys at Max Meyers Law today for a free consultation.
We will be happy to evaluate your claim, analyze the insurance policies, and help you pursue a claim for damages. Call us today at 425-399-7000.