In order to protect car accident victims, Washington State requires all drivers carry liability coverage to cover medical bills and property damage in accidents they cause. In addition to the minimum coverage required by law, there are also optional auto insurance coverage options available to protect you in an accident.
The following details both the mandatory insurance minimums as well as the optional coverages you may want to consider.
Every driver in Washington State must meet basic liability insurance requirements. You must obtain liability car insurance that has the following minimums:
- Property damage: $10,000
- Injury or Death (Per Person): $25,000
- Injury or Death (Per Accident): $50,000
Note: These coverages cover other drivers, not you, in the event of an accident.
Optional Car Insurance Coverage
In addition to the minimums described above, Washington State also offers several optional coverage options to further protect you financially in the event of an auto accident. For example, in the event you are injured, your uninsured motorist coverage could be the difference between receiving no compensation for your injuries and being fully covered if you get into an accident with another driver who does not have insurance.
Though additional coverage options may cost a little more initially, purchasing optional coverage can save you thousands of dollars later on in the event of an auto accident.
1) UM/UIM Coverage
While the law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, not everyone follows the law. If you get into an accident with one of these unlawful drivers, you may be out of luck, unless you opted to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). This coverage also applies if you are involved in an accident with a driver who flees the scene.
UM/UIM coverage also benefits you if you are involved in an accident with a driver who has insufficient insurance. For example, if a driver with minimum liability coverage hits you and causes $40,000 in medical bills, your UIM coverage will pay the remaining balance, up to your policy limit.
2) PIP Coverage
Personal injury protection (PIP), commonly referred to as no-fault insurance, will protect you in the event of a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. PIP coverage will help pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and even funeral expenses. While the law does not require a driver to purchase PIP coverage, insurance companies must give you the option of obtaining it. If you prefer to reject PIP coverage, you must do so in writing.
3) Collision Coverage
Collision insurance is another type of optional coverage that helps to cover the costs of accident-related damages. If your vehicle sustains damage in an accident (whether that be with another car or a stationary object, such as a pole), your collision insurance will pay the repair costs (such as body work and paint damage).
Depending on the policy, your policy may pay to replace your vehicle if the damage is bad enough.
4) Comprehensive Coverage
Comprehensive insurance covers damages from non-collision events, often referred to as “acts of God.” In other words, whatever collision does not cover, comprehensive usually will. For example, your comprehensive policy will cover the following:
- Someone breaks into your car or vandalizes it
- Hail shatters your windshield
- A fire damages your vehicle
- A pole falls on your car
- You hit a deer
It is important to note that comprehensive does not cover everything; be sure to check the policy to see what exactly it covers.
5) Gap Coverage
Gap coverage does exactly what it sounds like — it fills the gap. This type of optional coverage pays what is left over after you subtract the amount you still owe the lender and the current market value of your vehicle. Each insurance company is different, but usually this type of coverage is only available for new cars.
Note: If you are leasing a car, it is likely that the dealer or bank will require you to have comprehensive, collision, and gap coverage.
6) Rental Reimbursement
Another optional coverage that can be extremely helpful after an accident is rental reimbursement coverage. This coverage will pay for a rental car if you are unable to drive your car due to damage. (Note: This coverage only applies if your car is in the repair shop for a covered loss.)