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Washington Auto Insurance Information

We Can Discuss Your Legal Options

Getting auto insurance is a difficult chore, whether you’ve been driving for years or have just gotten your license. Insurance companies have their own language, which can be confusing to those not in the industry. All the while, they pressure new customers to buy more insurance so the company can make a bigger profit—and try to minimize payouts to people who get into accidents.

Experienced motorists know the routine that's supposed to take place after a collision: assess your injuries and receive medical attention if necessary, file a police report, exchange insurance information with the other drivers, etc. We take for granted that everyone in Seattle has insurance coverage, but this is far from the truth. It's unfortunate, but many people on the road drive with inadequate insurance or none at all. This can cause major issues for accident victims who need coverage for damages.

When these issues present themselves in Washington, our attorneys at Pendergast Law, are able to explain them all and let drivers know what their options are. Give us a call if you have questions, (888) 228-3860.

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I hired Mr. Pendergast to represent me after I was in a bad car accident last year. He and his staff are wonderful. They took all of the stress of dealing with the insurance companies away and let me get on with recovering from my injuries...

- Brent H., Marysville, WA

What Are Washington State’s Auto Insurance Requirements?

Washington State insurance requirements give drivers three options:

  1. Carry liability insurance with minimum coverage of
    • $25,000 for injury or death of another person
    • $50,000 for injury or death of all other people
    • $10,000 for property damage
  2. Get a certificate of deposit for a minimum of $60,000 to pay for your liability insurance
  3. Have a liability bond of a minimum of $60,000
  • Self-insured: If a person owns 26 or more non-commercial vehicles, he may qualify for self-insurance. To find out if you qualify, contact:
    Driver Records
    Department of Licensing
    PO Box 9030
    Olympia, WA 98507-9030
  • Uber and Lyft drivers: Driving for Uber or Lyft can be profitable for people wanting to be their own boss or supplement their income. While both Lyft and Uber insure their drivers with $1 million in coverage, it’s important that drivers first check with their own car insurance companies because there are many gray areas where Uber or Lyft’s coverage does not apply.
  • Commercial truck drivers: Commercial truck drivers face a lot of insurance issues. For workers who drive for a company, the truck will likely be owned by the company, and the company will pay for insurance while the driver is on the job. If a truck driver is self-employed and owns his own truck, he will have to purchase his own commercial truck insurance.
  • Underinsured and uninsured drivers: While the law does set out minimum requirements for car insurance coverage, not all drivers purchase that insurance before heading out on the road. For this reason, drivers may choose to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in case they’re in accidents with these lawless drivers.

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When Does UM/UIM Coverage Apply in Washington?

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurer will provide payment (the amount of which is determined by your specific policy) for injuries caused to:

  • You, while being the operator or passenger of your own vehicle, while being the operator or passenger of a vehicle that is not your own, or while walking the streets as a pedestrian.
  • A relative who is injured, while being the operator or passenger of a vehicle included in your policy.
  • Any other person who was permitted to drive or ride in your insured vehicle.
  • Any passenger in a vehicle you are operating but are not the owner of.

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What Are the Limits of UM Coverage in Washington?

The amount of compensation you receive from your UM coverage may be affected by the following factors:

  • Some policies provide you with coverage for hit-and-run accidents If you call the police within 24 hours. Others may only provide you with coverage if you are able to identify the liable party.
  • If your injury took place while at work, your UM payments will be reduced by workers' compensation and other disability payments.
  • If your insurer provides you with payments under medical payments coverage, your UM payments will be reduced by the amount of medical payments you receive.

The clearest way to illustrate how underinsured motorist coverage works is through an example. Let's say your injury claim is worth a total of $50,000 and the liable motorist's policy has the minimum limits of $25,000. You receive the leftover $25,000 from your own insurer through UIM coverage, if that amount does not exceed your policy's limits. Also, your payment amount will be reduced by any medical payments coverage you receive.

Consult with your attorney before you speak with the insurance adjuster about your claim. You will need professional advice in order to ensure you get the maximum coverage you deserve.

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Insurance Fair Conduct Act

Recently, Washington took measures to protect drivers who are unfairly denied insurance benefits by their insurance company. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible in benefits, because paying more takes away from their profits. Under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, legal action can be taken against an insurance company that unfairly denies a claim or makes an unfair settlement in a claim.

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Speak with an Attorney Today

If you’ve been in an accident and feel as though you’ve been treated unfairly by your insurance company, or you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured driver, contact the Seattle car accident attorneys at Pendergast Law. Call (888) 228-3860 for a free consultation. You may feel as if you have no financial options when it comes to covering medical expenses and other damages. However, with our assistance, you may be exposed to new pathways to coverage you have not even considered and get what you need for recovery.

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