Why Is Car Insurance So Expensive in Washington?

The average cost of car insurance in Washington is moderately-priced at $1,264 annually. While this is lower than the national average, car insurance costs may be higher in Washington due to traffic density, urban population, increased vehicle theft rates, uninsured motorists, natural disasters and personal factors.

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Last Updated: 5/31/2022
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Compared to the national average cost of insurance at $1,424 per year, drivers in Washington may find the average insurance costs in the state affordable. However, due to personal factors like age, credit score and car make, and state-level factors like highway density, urban population, theft rates and uninsured motorist rates, car insurance costs in Washington for some drivers may be expensive.

To arrive at the average rates mentioned in this research, MoneyGeek uses a 40-year-old driver with a clean driving record and a full coverage policy.

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Key Takeaways

washington

Many factors contribute to expensive car insurance rates in Washington. State-level factors such as highway density, a large percentage of the population living in urban areas, and an increasing number of vehicle thefts all cause insurance rates to increase.

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Personal factors, including the driver’s history and profile, also contribute to expensive rates. Younger drivers, reckless drivers and those with poor credit history may have higher rates than drivers with better records.

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There are various ways to save on premiums. Taking advantage of discounts, dropping unnecessary coverage, and shopping around are just a few ways to score lower premiums.

Why Washington’s Car Insurance Rates Are so High

In Washington, a full coverage policy costs $1,264 per year. Compared to the national average of $1,424, rates in Washington are considerably affordable, on average.

However, insurance rates are affected by state-level factors and can vary. Washington has high traffic density, a concentrated urban population, many uninsured drivers, an elevated vehicle theft rate and many natural disasters.

Higher-than-Average Highway Density

Washington has higher-than-average traffic density, measured by how close vehicles are driving in proximity to each other: while this state has 8.3 million miles driven per highway mile, slightly higher than the national average of 7.7. The higher the highway density, the higher chances of crashes and accidents in a given area. Car insurance rates go up because of this added risk.

High Urban Population Density

Around 84% of Washington residents live in cities. As with highway density, the more densely populated an area is, the higher the chances of theft and vandalism. Because Washington has an increasing population living in urban areas, car insurance rates are likely to increase.

High Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers

Around 22% of drivers in Washington are uninsured, recording one of the highest numbers of uninsured motorists across the states. That’s nearly as high as the national average of 35%.

Car insurance rates increase due to the risk of getting into accidents with uninsured drivers.

To ensure protection, you may want to seek additional uninsured motorist coverage even though Washington's minimum car insurance law does not require you to carry it.

High Vehicle Theft Rate

If you live in an area that sees a high record of theft rate, you can expect your car insurance rates to be high due to added risk. MoneyGeek found that Washington experienced 320.5 vehicle theft cases per 100,000 inhabitants, on average.

Natural Disasters

Washington has experienced 177 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster declarations since 1953, more than the national average of 84 per state. Insurance providers take this into account to calculate how much they would pay if vehicles are damaged due to natural disasters.

Why Car Insurance in Washington Might Be Expensive for You

Car insurance rates vary because of external factors and also personal ones. The above examples affect the entire state’s premium rates. Below are some individual factors that can affect car insurance rates.

Where You Live

Some cities in Washington are more expensive than other cities. Out of the seven cities that MoneyGeek surveyed, Tacoma has the highest car insurance rates at an average of $1,358 per year. Alternatively, drivers in Spokane may have the cheapest car insurance rates at $1,050 per year.

Average Car Insurance Rates in Washington: States & Cities

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  • Location
    Annual Premium
  • Washington’s State Average
    $1,264
  • Bellevue
    $1,179
  • Everett
    $1,214
  • Kent
    $1,302
  • Seattle
    $1,312
  • Spokane
    $1,050
  • Tacoma
    $1,358
  • Vancouver
    $1,142

Insurance Company

Car insurance rates in Washington can be expensive for you based on your chosen insurance provider. Drivers who want the best car insurance in Washington may need to pay more to get the best value for their money. As for drivers who want to prioritize their budget, the cheapest car insurance in Washington may be the best option.

You can use MoneyGeek’s car insurance calculator to see how much is Washington car insurance for you.

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Age

Car insurance costs in Washington may be expensive if you are a young driver with limited experience on the road. There’s a rate difference of about $1,467 annually between a 40-year-old driver and a young driver. This rate difference demonstrates how age significantly affects car insurance costs in Washington and across the country.

Average Car Insurance Rates by Age in Washington

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  • State
    Average Driver (40-Year-Old)
    16-Year-Old
    25-Year-Old
  • Washington
    $1,264
    $2,731
    $1,135

Driving Record

Washington insurance rates may be expensive for drivers with accidents or violations on their records. If you calculate the difference between a driver with no violation paying the cheapest average cost of $1,264 per year and a driver with a speeding ticket paying $1,522 per year, there’s a cost difference of $259.

As the table below shows, Washington auto insurance rates increase as the violations worsen.

Average Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record in Washington

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  • State
    No Violation
    Speeding Ticket
    Accident
    DUI
  • Washington
    $1,264
    $1,522
    $2,186
    $2,172

Credit Score

Credit scores affect car insurance costs in Washington. A driver with an excellent credit score pays around $1,057 annually. A driver with a poor credit score pays $2,073. By practicing good credit habits, you could save $1,016 per year.

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  • State
    Excellent Credit Score
    Fair Credit Score
    Poor Credit Score
  • Washington
    $1,057
    $1,495
    $2,073

Car’s Make and Build

Some cars are more expensive to insure than others because of possible high repair or replacement costs. Drivers of a Nissan GT-R pay around $3,096 annually. Drivers of a less expensive car, like a Toyota Camry, pay about $1,682 less annually than the previous driver. Alternatively, older cars are cheaper to insure than newer models.

Auto Insurance Calculator

State

Washington

Age

30-65

Driving Record

Clean

Credit Score

Excellent

Vehicle Type

Compact

Vehicle Year

2020

Liability Coverage

State Min

Comprehensive and Collision Insurance

None

Gender

Female
Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates

Click the section of the wheel in your price range to see options.

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on average

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Click your preferred price range to see company options.

Click an insurer below to visit their review page or continue to your personalized quote.

Company

Average Annual Rates

1.

USAA

$339

2.

GEICO

$450

3.

PEMCO

$500

How to Save on Car Insurance in Washington

Since car insurance in Washington can be pricey, you may want to look for different ways to save on premiums. Here are some ideas for getting lower rates.

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    Shop around for quotes.

    When buying car insurance, you may want to compare four or five insurance companies to get an idea of the average cost and see if you can find a cheaper option.

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    Bundle your policies.

    You can often get bundling discounts if you buy home and auto insurance from the same company. You can save by taking advantage of this kind of offer.

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    Find discounts.

    Insurance companies offer discounts based on your driver profile and history, vehicle make and model, payment options and other factors. When shopping for a policy, it’s a good idea to ask if you qualify for car insurance discounts.

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    Increase your deductible.

    Choosing a higher car insurance deductible can lower your premiums. Keep in mind that a higher deductible means you’ll be on the hook to pay a higher amount out-of-pocket for claims.

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    Consider pay-per-mile insurance.

    One of the most popular ways to lower premiums is to find non-traditional insurance options. If you only drive occasionally, you could save money by purchasing a pay-per-mile car insurance policy instead of a full coverage plan.

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    Drop unnecessary coverage.

    Dropping comprehensive and collision coverage is a practical move if you own a car with a low value. Since comprehensive and collision coverage is optional, you may want to assess whether you need it.

Insurance Rates

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Ensure you are getting the best rate for your insurance. Compare quotes from the top insurance companies.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions drivers in Washington ask about car insurance.

About the Author


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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.