The Best and the Cheapest Car Insurance in the Washington State

If you are looking to purchase car insurance in Washington state, there’s some good news and bad news. 

The bad news is that the cost of car insurance in Washington is higher than the national average. However, the good part is that several WA auto insurers offer coverage at affordable rates — and we’ll help you find them. 

We studied as many as 24 auto insurance companies to help you locate the cheapest car insurance in WA. First, we gathered quotes from all these insurers. Next, we evaluated their performance on several important factors like affordability, customer experience, and financial stability. 

Furthermore, we have provided a separate list of most affordable auto insurers in the seven biggest cities in Washington. Lastly, we studied Washington insurance laws and identified tactics that can help you lower your premium by as much as 60%.

The Best Car Insurance in Washington State

  • PEMCO — The Overall Winner
  • Amica — The Runners Up
  • GEICO — The Best for Financial Strength
  • Progressive — The Cheapest Option
  • State Farm — The Best for Discounts
  • USAA – The Best for Military

The Overall Winner: PEMCO

Let’s begin with the best options and our overall winner. 

PEMCO should be at the top of your list if you are looking for cheap car insurance in Washington. Why? Glad you asked. 

A high-ranking regional provider, PEMCO offers excellent car insurance at an affordable rate. And the best part is that it grabbed first place in J.D. Power’s 2018 customer satisfaction study for the Washington region. To put this into perspective, it was the only insurer, regional or national, to earn the full five stars. 

Furthermore, as various PEMCO insurance reviews confirm, including ours, its NAIC complaint ratio is way below the industry’s average at 0.14. This means that customers file 86% fewer complaints compared to the average company of PEMCO’s size.

Another impressive thing about PEMCO is the variety of discounts it offers, including some unique in the market. You get a rebate for grouping home and auto insurance, completing a defensive driving course, being a student, driving a new vehicle, and many other things. 

PEMCO auto insurance reviews also reveal that filing claims with the company is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is dial its special claims hotline number or fill an online form to set things in motion. The company even offers a highly rated mobile app, which you can use to make payments or download proof of insurance should the police pull you over.

However, there’s one more blemish on PEMCO’s report card — its financial strength score. With A.M. Best rating of B+ (good), it considerably lags behind some other top-ranking insurers in this department. That said, a score of B+ still indicates that the insurer is capable of covering claims expenses of regular customers.

In spite of this minor flaw, PEMCO remains the best auto insurance company in Washington State

The Rating of PEMCO Auto insurance in Washington State

Choose PEMCO for affordable prices and top-of-the-line customer service.

Look Elsewhere if you want an insurer that offers a mobile app.

The Runners Up – Amica Car InsuranceAmica Mutual Car Insurance Logo

Amica is one of many mutual insurance companies in the US. This means that it is not owned by any individual, group of investors, or another enterprise, but rather by its policyholders. This entails that, when Amica makes a profit, it is either invested in the company or shared between the policyholders.

If you like the idea of your WA car insurance paying something back to you, Amica might be the right choice for you. However, remember to opt for a dividend policy if that’s your cup of tea.

That’s because Amica offers two kinds of policies — dividend and non-dividend. You get dividend payments only when you buy a dividend policy. However, compared to non-dividend auto insurance coverage, a dividend policy requires a bigger upfront payment. That said, in the long run, the latter can prove to be a quite cost-effective option.

So how big are divided payments generally? 

According to Amica website, dividend payments are generally 5% to 20% of your yearly premium. 

Apart from this feature, Amica outperforms most Washington state car insurance companies in several other departments. 

For one, it earned the full five stars in the national J.D. Power claim satisfaction study, and impressive four stars in the national J.D. Power insurance shopping study. The insurer, however, didn’t feature in J.D. Power regional study for Washington region. 

Two, Amica has a stellar NAIC ratio of 0.46, meaning it receives less than half the complaints that the average businesses of its size receive. Three, the insurer is on a strong footing financially. It earned the second-highest rating of A+ (Superior) in the A.M. Best index. 

On the price front, Amica’s performance is a mixed bag. Washington state auto insurance rate comparison shows that in some cities, Amica’s premiums are among the cheapest while in some other cities, it is among the priciest options. 

If you live in a city where Amica premiums are low, you should strongly consider it. That said, even if it’s a tad on the expensive side in your area, you should still check it, particularly if you value top-notch customer service.

The Rating of Amica Auto Insurance in Washington State

Choose Amica for dividends, great customer service, and affordable prices in some areas. 

Look Elsewhere if you live in a WA city where Amica auto insurance is expensive.

The Cheapest Option: Progressive Car InsuranceProgressive Insurance Logo

Progressive runs some of the funniest commercials — but how does its car insurance stack up against others? 

Stats show that no other insurer matches Progressive on price, which is the most important factor for buying insurance for many people. In fact, Progressive rates are so good that in some cities in WA, like Tacoma and Kent, its coverage is 30% to 40% cheaper than the next best option. 

In short, if you are looking for the cheapest auto insurance in Washington, you can’t go wrong with Progressive. 

Progressive has several other aces up its sleeve as well. For instance, it piles up discounts from the moment you start signing up for an auto policy. 

Don’t have the time to investigate discounts, crunch numbers, or tinker with coverages? 

Well, then use its innovative Name Your Price Tool. Simply enter the amount you would prefer to pay, answer some questions, and the tool will calculate the best Washington insurance coverage options for you. Cool, eh?

And unlike our champion PEMCO, Progressive is also in good financial shape. It received the second-highest rating of A+ (Superior) from A.M. Best. 

However, Progressive has one glaring shortcoming — customer service. It could manage only three stars in the J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction study for the Washington region. That said, if you can be patient with its customer service, Progressive auto insurance might prove to be a terrific choice.

The rating of Progressive Auto Insurance in Washington State

Choose Progressive for its bargain prices. 

Look Elsewhere if you want better customer service.

Best for Financial Stability: GEICO InsuranceGeico Auto Insurance Logo

You might have heard GEICO’s slogan that 15 minutes of your time could help you save up to 15% on car insurance — but does the insurer really stand by its claim? 

The short answer is, “Yes.”  In most WA cities where we did a quote comparison, GEICO came out as the second-most affordable option. So if you are looking for cheap auto insurance in WA, GEICO is the one to put near the top of your list.

So how does Geico achieve low prices?

Many companies work through agents, but GEICO follows the direct-to-consumer model. This means that you can simply call GEICO or use its website to enroll in an insurance policy. This way, Geico saves on the commissions substantially. And if you still need GEICO’s agent, the company employs enough staff to help you when you need it.

However, what makes GEICO stand out among other Washington state auto insurance companies is its financial strength. It grabbed the A++ rating — the highest possible — in the A.M. Best index.

Its online tools are also among the best in the business. The website impresses you right off the bat with its looks and ease of use, while its mobile app goes above and beyond the expectations. You can do all the regular stuff with it, like viewing your insurance IDs and filing claims, plus a whole lot more. 

Whether you want to get roadside assistance, find answers to your questions quickly, or locate the cheapest gas station near you, you can turn to the GEICO app for help.

However, unlike some other car insurance providers in WA, GEICO doesn’t have a great customer service record. It could muster only three stars in the J.D. Power regional study for the Washington area. But if you can live with that, you might find that GEICO has a lot to offer.

The Rating of GEICO Car Insurance in Washington State

Choose GEICO for its outstanding financial strength and affordable premiums.

Look elsewhere if you want top-class customer service.

Best for Discounts: State Farm

State Farm Auto Insurance LogoState Farm website claims it is the largest auto insurance provider in the US. Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but is it the right insurer for you? 

First things first, if you are looking for cheap car insurance in Washington state, State Farm might not be a top choice because its premiums are a little pricey. That said, State Farm offers a ton of discounts for Washington residents (11 in total), and there’s a good chance you might be able to tack at least a few of them on your policy and bring down your premium considerably. 

While there are other auto insurers that marginally offer a higher number of discounts than State Farm, we have ranked it ahead of others because of its strong financial standing and top-of-the-line online tools. 

Compared to some WA state insurance, State Farm is on a more solid footing financially, which is evident from its A++ rating, the highest possible, on the A.M. Best index. 

If you are a tech-savvy person, you will like State Farm mobile app, which notched up impressive scores on both Google Play Store (4.2) and App Store (4.8). You can use it to file a claim, get roadside assistance, manage your insurance account, and much more. 

State Farm also offers banking and investment services in addition to auto insurance. If you are someone who likes to bundle services with one provider, State Farm might be a good fit. Purchasing multiple services from one company can reduce your overall expenditure, besides streamlining payments.  

Unfortunately, the issue that plagues some other big auto insurance providers in Washington state, notably GEICO and Progressive, also troubles State Farm — mediocre customer service. But if that’s not a dealbreaker, State Farm is an option you might want to consider, particularly if you prefer to bundle different services with a single provider. 

The Rating of State Farm Auto Insurance in Washington State

Choose StateFarm for its discounts and additional products. 

Look elsewhere if you want the best bang for your buck or top-class customer service. 

Best for Military: USAAUSAA Auto Insurance Logo

Some auto insurers offer low premiums, others excellent customer service — but few give both. USAA, however, is an exception. 

It excels in both departments, and on top of it,  its financial standing is as good as it gets. The insurer earned the highest possible rating of A++ in the A.M. Best study.

Considering all this, you might be wondering why haven’t we ranked it as the best car insurance in Washington state

We would have if it wasn’t for one thing — USAA only caters to individuals in the military and their close families. If that sounds like you, go for USAA because it offers some perks that most auto insurance companies simply can’t match. 

Another thing that works in favor of USAA is that it offers a range of services besides auto insurance, such as banking, real estate, and investment services. If you take multiple products from USAA, your savings will be even greater. 

As far as filing a claim with USAA is concerned, that’s quite simple and straightforward. You can either call the company or use its mobile app.

The Rating of USAA auto insurance in the state of Washington

Choose USAA for its superb overall performance.

Look elsewhere if you don’t qualify. 

Affordable Car Insurance in Washington State (By City)

We requested a quote for a 40-year old male driving a 2018 Honda Accord with a clean driving record from all important WA auto insurers to find which of the seven biggest cities in the state has the cheapest auto insurance. Our quote included full coverage limits.

Seattle

With a population of over 750,000, Seattle is the largest city in Washington state. It is also a highly popular tourist destination, attracting nearly 40 million visitors every year. Additionally, it boasts of large tech industry, with Amazon, Nintendo USA, and Microsoft headquartered in the Seattle metropolitan area. 

The comparison of auto insurance prices in Seattle, WA

Given that Seattle is a large and bustling city, the fact that car insurance in Seattle is costlier than most other cities in Washington comes as no surprise. Nonetheless, our research shows that Progressive Insurance offers great value for money to Seattle residents. 

If you are a budget buyer, you should definitely check out Progressive. Its premiums are more than 50% cheaper than the next best option — Amica. That said, the latter is also a decent option for those looking for cheap car insurance in Seattle since you can recover part of your premium in the form of an annual dividend.

On the other hand, if strong financial standing is the most important determining factor for you, GEICO might suit you best. With A++ rating in the A.M. Best index, it outshines many others in this department. 

However, GEICO, much like Progressive, doesn’t provide great customer service. If you want your Seattle car insurance company to deliver nothing short of the best customer service, consider PEMCO, which is miles ahead of the competition in this regard.

Spokane

Known for being the gateway to the northwest Rockies and Glacier National Park, Spokane is the birthplace of Father’s Day and home of Bing Cosby. This beautiful city is just within a one-hour drive of 76 lakes, including the stunning Lake Coeur d’Alene. 

Comparison of auto insurance prices in Spokane, WA

Even though Spokane is the second largest city in the state of Washington, it has the lowest average car insurance monthly premium ($148/month). Not surprisingly, Progressive tops the list of cheapest auto insurance providers in Spokane, followed by GEICO, American Family, and PEMCO. 

Compared to Progressive, GEICO has a better financial strength rating, while American Family and PEMCO boast of superior customer service. Apart from these four names, you might also want to consider State Farm and Travelers.

Tacoma

Nestled in the banks of Puget Sound, Tacoma boasts of stunning vistas and an abundance of flora and fauna. The city is a great place to live in, especially for those who love the outdoors. Compared to Seattle, Tacoma is less expensive and congested.  But what about car insurance? Is it cheaper than Seattle? 

Comparison of Car Insurance Prices in Tacoma, WA

Surprisingly, our research shows that this is not the case. Auto insurance in Tacoma is $17 costlier than Seattle on average, making it the most expensive WA city for car insurance. 

That said, at least two Tacoma car insurance companies —  Progressive and GEICO — offer affordable coverage. We’d also like to recommend Amica and PEMCO because both give top-class customer service. You might want to consider State Farm as well since it offers many discounts.

Vancouver

Located on the north bank of the Columbia River in Washington, Vancouver is best known for Fort Vancouver. The city is home to many large manufacturers, like HP, Alcoa, SEH America, and Sharp. 

The comparison of auto insurance prices in Vancouver, WA

As far as car insurance is concerned, Vancouver rates are in the middle of the price spectrum for WA. Progressive, GEICO, and American Family are all great options for people looking for affordable car insurance in Vancouver, WA. On the other hand, if customer service is the single determining factor for buying insurance for you, give PEMCO a try.

Bellevue

Bellevue has a population of over 140,000 people and is the fifth largest city in Washington. While its downtown area is a hub of business activity, the rest of the city has a small-town feel, with miles and miles of nature trails, public parks, woodsy neighborhoods, and swim beaches. The Comparison of Auto Insurance Prices in Bellevue, WA

With an average monthly premium of $162, Bellevue is the second least expensive city in WA for car insurance. Amica is the most affordable auto insurance provider in Bellevue WA, followed by Progressive and GEICO. We would also put PEMCO near the top of our list as it excels in the customer service department.

Kent

Located halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, Kent was established in 1890 with a population of less than 800. Today, more than 125,000 people live in Kent, which is ranked among the top 10 most culturally diverse cities in the US. It is also the fourth-largest manufacturing center in the country. 

Comparison of Car Insurance Prices in Kent, Washinton

Given this, it’s no wonder that car insurance in Kent is almost as pricey as in Tacoma and Seattle. However, the good news is that a couple of providers offer very affordable auto insurance in Kent, Washington, such as Progressive, GEICO, and American Family. PEMCO, while costlier than these three, is also worth a mention as its customer service is top-class. 

Everett

Situated on the shores of Port Gardner Bay, Everett offers panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain range and the blue Salish sea. This coastal city is located just 25 miles north of Seattle and has a population of over 110,000 residents. Everett’s downtown boasts of a vibrant art, music, and culture scene, delicious dining, and a number of exciting pubs. 

The comparison of auto insurance prices in Everett, WA

Compared to Tacoma, Seattle, and Kent, auto insurance in Everett is considerably cheaper, with the average monthly premium being $179. If you want great value for money, start your search with Progressive, GEICO, and PEMCO car insurance. While PEMCO is pricier than the other two, it outshines them in the customer service department. 

Another name you might want to consider is State Farm.

Washington State Auto Insurance Laws

Washington Automobile Insurance Plan (WAIP)

Every driver in Washington must have car insurance, but the question is – does everybody get coverage in the voluntary market? The answer is, sadly, “No.” 

Quite often, young and high-risk drivers find it tough to obtain coverage — and this is where WAIP comes into the picture. It has two important functions:

  • To ensure high-risk drivers get auto coverage
  •  To proportionally distribute the cost of high-risk drivers among Washington state car insurance companies. In other words, each company shares the financial burden of high-risk drivers in proportion to its market share in the state.

If you are unable to find insurance in the voluntary market, you can apply to WAIP. It will randomly assign you an insurer if you meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a resident of Washington.
  • You need to have a valid Washington driver’s license.
  • You should have paid all car insurance premiums in the last two years.
  • You must have been turned down by at least two car insurance companies in Washington in the last 60 days.

While WAIP is the only option for some drivers, you shouldn’t be running to it the first time you get rejected. Coverage obtained through WAIP is significantly more expensive than standard insurance, and, as such, should always be a last resort.

In case you fail to the criteria for WAIP, you can reapply as soon as the issue is fixed. If your application was labeled “fraudulent” because you misrepresented facts, you wouldn’t be able to reapply for one year.

Minimum Washington Car Insurance Requirements

A Washington-licensed driver must have the following bare minimum coverage: 

  • Bodily Injury Liability – $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. This car insurance coverage pays for injuries you cause to other people. It might also include other related expenses as well, like lost wages and legal expenses. 
  • Property Damage Liability – $10,000 per accident. It covers the cost of repairs if you are involved in an at-fault car accident that damages another person’s vehicle or property, like a building front or fence.

SR22 Insurance in Washington

SR22 is actually not a coverage type but rather a form that your insurer needs to submit to the local DMV in case you violate the rules of the road. The form serves as a proof that you are adequately insured. You’ll need an SR22 certificate after a severe violation, like drunk driving, or a series of minor infringements. 

The state monitors your driving record for three years, after which you can qualify for regular car insurance. 

The SR22 form itself is not expensive, but insurers charge up to 50% more if you need the certificate along with the policy. That said, not all insurers penalize you equally, so don’t forget to shop around.

Washington State Insurance for New Residents

According to AAA’s guideline on Washington’s driving laws, any car registered in another state is exempt from the laws of Washington concerning registration if the owner has a valid vehicle registration from her home state and that state accords similar privileges to Washington residents. 

Foreign businesses that own, maintain, or operate places of businesses in Washington need to register motor vehicles used for commercial purposes.

Military personnel on active duty in Washington may retain home state registration.

Price Optimization in Washington

Car insurance premiums should be based solely on risk — but is that always the case? 

Unfortunately, no. And the reason is price optimization. In some states, insurance companies use non-risk related consumer data to set insurance prices. 

Thankfully, insurance companies in Washington state are prohibited from using price optimization. The state’s insurance commissioner published Technical Assistance Advisory 2015-01, which states:

“To the extent that an insurer’s use of price optimization results in premiums, rates, or rating factors unrelated to cost and risk, it will be considered unfairly discriminatory and in violation of Washington State law”. 

This means that if you reside in Washington, you can rest assured knowing that your insurer will not overcharge you if you remain a loyal customer. Nevertheless, we still recommend you to shop around a little before renewing the policy to make sure you get the cheapest car insurance in WA.

Washington No-Fault Laws

Washington is a comparative fault state. This means that in case of an accident, the fault is assigned to one or both parties, and you will receive compensation only for the percentage of fault assigned to the other driver, not for the amount of fault that you contributed. 

For example, if you are in an accident with another driver and the other party was found to be 80% responsible for the mishap, according to WA car insurance laws, you will get compensation for only 80% of your damages. 

The modified fault rule works on the same lines, but there’s a glaring difference between the two. In modified fault states, such as Georgia, there’s a threshold for fault, meaning the other party will recompense only if their fault exceeds a certain level, which is either 50% or 51%. 

In contrast, in comparative fault states like Washington, there’s no such threshold percentage. Even if you were 80% at fault, you could still file a claim for 20% of your damages. 

It is possible that the other driver might not have enough coverage to cover all your medical expenses. In such a case, you can sue the at-fault driver. Another option is to add no-fault PIP coverage to your insurance plan. It will cover injuries sustained by you in an accident, regardless of who was at fault.

How To Get the Cheapest Car Insurance in WA?

Study Auto Insurance Reviews

Since auto insurance needs vary from one driver to another, you should check how different companies perform on parameters most relevant for you, in addition to looking at their overall scores. Obviously, this guide shows you exactly that, but you might want to check out even more auto insurers. If that’s the case, you might want to take a look at our car insurance rankings

Since we evaluated as many as 24 auto insurers, they can help you get the best car insurance in Washington State. We thoroughly researched every insurer on the list and ranked them based on their performance on seven most important metrics — affordability, customer service, optional coverages, discounts, financial strength, availability, and online tools. 

This means that no matter your requirements, you will find at least one (perhaps even a few) auto insurers that offer exactly what you want.

Compare Quotes From Multiple Washington Auto Insurance Companies

Even though price optimization is banned in Washington, we recommend you gather quotes from other insurers when renewal comes. This is because insurers often change their marketing strategy based on their revenue.

For instance, right now, Progressive and GEICO are among the most affordable options in Washington, while State Farm and Farmers are at the other end of the price spectrum. However, if tomorrow the market share of State Farm or Farmers shrinks, they wouldn’t shy away from reducing rates to attract more customers. 

That’s why shopping around at policy renewal makes a lot of sense even when the Department of Insurance, Washington debars insurers from optimizing prices.

Check Who Offers the Highest Discounts

The best way to lower your auto insurance cost is to take full advantage of various discounts offered by insurers. When you get a quote online, the system automatically prods you to select applicable discounts. If you are dealing with an agent, you should ask her to list all the discounts for which you are eligible. 

Some of the most common types of auto insurance discounts are: 

    • Good Driving Discount – If you have a good driving record in WA, you can qualify for this discount. Typically, auto insurers offer Good Driving Discount to drivers who have not had any violations or claims for five years or so. 
    • Good Student Discount – Students with an impressive GPA score — typically 3.0 (B) or higher — are eligible for this discount. 
    • Safety Features Discount – You can lower your collision/comprehensive coverage premium if you can show the insurer that your vehicle has a lot of factory-installed safety mechanisms, such as airbags and antilock brakes.
    • Bundle Discount – Insurers reward consumers who club their Washington homeowners insurance with auto insurance.
    • Tracking Driving Habits – Most, if not all, auto insurers offer this type of discount in which your annual premium is reduced based on your driving habits. The insurer typically asks you to download a mobile app or use a GPS device to allow them to monitor your driving. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who has the best auto insurance rates in Washington state? 

According to our research, Progressive tops the list of cheap auto insurance in Washington state. We obtained full coverage quotes for seven major cities in Washington, and Progressive came up as the most affordable option in all but one. GEICO came second while PEMCO emerged as the third most affordable auto insurer in Washington.

2. Is Washington a no-fault state? 

Washington is not a no-fault state. Instead, it is a comparative fault state. This means that in case of an accident, you will receive compensation only for the percentage of fault assigned to the other driver. For instance, if the accident was 80% the fault of the other driver and 20% yours, you will get compensation for 80% of your damages.

3. What state has the cheapest car insurance? 

According to our research, Maine has the lowest car insurance premiums. But you don’t have to go all the way to the northeasternmost US state to save on car insurance. You can get affordable auto insurance in Washington state if you choose wisely. One name you should strongly consider is Progressive, for its premiums are dirt-cheap. Another good option for price-conscious buyers is GEICO.

4. Why did car insurance increase in 2019? 

This is mainly due to a combination of four factors — negative underwriting profit in recent years, an increase in distracted-driving accidents, an uptick in the number of tech-loaded vehicles that typically cost a lot more to repair, and record-setting natural disasters.

5. Is car insurance more expensive in Washington?

Compared to the national average, car insurance is more expensive in Washington. That said, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can considerably lower the cost of car insurance in Washington state by doing a little research. In fact, if you follow the tips listed in this article, you might be able to bring down your insurance cost by as much as 60%.

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