Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance

Washington Insurance LawsWashington state laws require all drivers to carry motor vehicle liability insurance coverage of not less than $25,000.00. Typically, you should buy enough liability insurance to protect your personal assets from being recovered as compensation for a person injured in an accident for which you are liable. The higher your net worth, the more liability insurance you should carry.

For your protection, we recommend purchasing an umbrella insurance policy to provide extra liability coverage above and beyond your regular policies. As its name implies, umbrella insurance floats above the maximums of your primary liability insurance—above the $100,000, $300,000 or $500,000 single limits—to protect your assets and future income against losses.

UM/UIM Coverage

The law requires all Washington state auto insurers to offer UM/UIM (uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist) coverage to Washington state policy holders. While this coverage must be offered, individuals can chose to refuse or waive the coverage entirely or to purchase an amount less than the liability coverage. If opting out, however, Washington law requires the insurance company obtain a written waiver of coverage signed by the insured attesting to that decision. We do not recommend waiving this option.

Uninsured motorist insurance provides compensation to the insured when he or she is injured by another driver who is without any automobile liability insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage provides compensation when the insured is injured by another driver whose liability insurance coverage is insufficient to fully compensate the injured person. UM and UIM are typically contained in the same section of an automobile insurance policy and the premium paid is for both coverages.

It is not uncommon for those injured in auto accidents to find themselves injured by a driver who has no liability insurance or just the Washington state mandatory minimum limits of $25,000. If you waive your UM/UIM coverage or insure yourself at a low level, there is a risk you will be without adequate resources to protect yourself and your family if a traumatic injury in a motor vehicle accident happens. It is worthwhile to spend the few extra dollars required to carry UM/UIM coverage and to have limits of more than the minimum.

UM/UIM claims are complex with many legal loopholes for insurance companies to use to deny and limit coverage. If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision, seeking the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney who works with automobile and insurance law is always a good idea. We offer consultations at no cost or obligation to the injured person.

PIP Benefits

In Washington, all auto liability insurance policies must carry at least $10,000 in PIP benefits (personal injury protection) to cover health care costs, a specific amount of wage loss and essential or household services. Many insurance companies offer higher limits and you should be able to get $35,000 PIP limits for very low additional costs. You have this coverage unless you reject it in writing.

We recommend you carry as much PIP insurance as possible. With the high cost of medical care these days, your medical bills can quickly add up to $10,000 for a relatively minor injury car accident. Even a simple MRI can cost between $800 and $2,000. If you’re in a car accident and seriously injured requiring hospitalization or surgery, $10,000 can be gone in a couple days or in one surgical procedure. It makes good sense to purchase as much PIP insurance as you can afford.

Will a Claim Raise My Rates?

Clients frequently ask us if their insurance rates will go up if they initiate a claim. No, you are protected. Washington state law mandates that a policy holder’s insurance rates cannot be affected when using PIP insurance or opening an UM/UIM claim.