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Understanding Washington Auto Insurance: Do You Need More Coverage?

On behalf of Bradford Fulton at Carter & Fulton, P.S.

A full understanding of your auto insurance coverage is well worth the effort.

In Washington, as in all states, all licensed drivers are required to have auto insurance coverage (and proof of coverage while operating the vehicle). The minimum amount state law requires be covered in an auto insurance policy is $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person in one accident, $50,000 for any two people in one accident, and $10,000 in property damage to another person involved in the accident. These amounts do not always cover the amount of actual damage that occurs in a car crash, however, and many of Washington’s insured drivers choose more than the minimum coverage.

For example, if you are in an accident that causes the serious injury or death of a passenger or another driver, you will be liable for damages. If your insurance policy does not cover the total cost, your assets could be put at risk in a potential lawsuit. For example, if you own a home, it is a good idea to drastically increase the coverage. A person with a $150,000 home making $75,000 per year and other assets should consider insurance that covers $100,000 per individual and $200,000 per accident (four times the state minimum).

Other Types of Coverage

Comprehensive auto insurance covers damage from natural disasters and acts of God, as well as theft and vandalism. Comprehensive coverage covers the full cost of repairs (not always the case with other types of coverage). The important thing to note for comprehensive coverage is that the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. This may be a wise choice. If your car is totaled or stolen, you will be covered against a major loss, although you will have an out-of-pocket expense (a $1,000 deductible, for example).

Personal injury protection pays for medical and funeral costs for you or your family. However, this may already be covered under health insurance, life insurance, or disability insurance. Make sure you are not already covered for these costs before purchasing PIP.

Finally, there is underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. While it is illegal to drive without insurance, a significant percentage of motorists do, so many consider this coverage essential. Uninsured motorist coverage will pay costs associated with a hit-and-run as well.

While it is good to be prepared for an accident, not everyone has all necessary insurance coverage. If you have been injured in an accident, consult with a personal injury attorney with experience in car accident cases to discuss potential compensation for injuries.

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