Washington requires vehicle owners to demonstrate "financial responsibility" in case they cause a car accident on the state's roads and highways. The majority of vehicle owners choose to establish their financial responsibility by purchasing an auto insurance policy. However, you can also comply with the law by:
Whether you choose to carry car insurance, or follow one of the other methods described above, remember to carry proof of your financial responsibility with you. You will need it if you are ever pulled over by law enforcement.
If you choose to purchase liability insurance, you will need to carry the following minimum amounts in Washington:
Although you can drive legally in Washington by purchasing the minimum coverage amounts listed above, it is usually wise to carry additional coverage. Car accidents -- especially serious ones -- can cause thousands of dollars in damage. If you do not have enough coverage, you will be personally on the financial hook for the difference.
Please note: Your loan or lease agreement may require you to have collision or comprehensive insurance as part of your policy. Consult your contract to make sure you are maintaining the required coverage, and learn more about different types of car insurance coverage.
In Washington, the penalty for driving without proof of financial responsibility can be a fine of up to $450 per occurrence. After multiple violations of the state's proof of financial responsibility laws, you may have your license or registration suspended.
The Washington Department of Licensing has more information on Washington auto insurance and financial responsibility requirements. You can also get more details in our article Washington Auto Insurance Laws and Regulations.