For Consumers

What's covered under an auto policy?

An auto insurance policy usually has several types of protections or “coverages” — some required and some optional. Some coverages may automatically be part of your policy unless you opt out of them. Before you buy, you must decide what coverages best fit your needs, which may mean choosing more coverages than you need to meet requirements. Your agent should work with you and your needs to come up with personalized coverage. 

Don’t find yourself in a position where you assumed something was covered and it’s not. Read your policy thoroughly, and familiarize yourself with these types of coverages to know what’s covered under your auto policy.

Required auto coverage in Washington state

Washington state law requires all drivers to carry auto liability insurance and proof of auto insurance.

Bodily injury liability

This covers injuries that you, the designated driver or policyholder causes to someone else. It also covers you and the family members you list in your policy when driving someone else's car (with their permission). Carrying bodily injury liability coverage is mandatory in Washington state.

Property damage liability 

Drivers in Washington are required to carry at least $10,000 of property damage liability coverage. This part of your auto policy helps pay for damages you cause to another vehicle or to property, such as utility poles or fences, damaged or destroyed in an accident. Property damage liability typically won’t cover damage to your car, which is why some drivers choose to also add collision coverage to their auto policy. 

Auto coverages your insurer must offer you

When buying auto insurance in Washington state, your agent or broker must offer you the following two types of coverage. If you decline the coverage, you must reject it in writing.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

This reimburses you if you, a family member or your designated driver is hit by an uninsured driver, a hit-and-run driver or an unidentified vehicle that forces you to have an accident. Generally, you should report (based on your policy) any accidents involving a hit-and-run or unidentified vehicle to local law enforcement within 72 hours and get contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident. Be sure to talk with your agent and check your policy for specific requirements.

Personal injury protection (PIP)

Among other things, PIP pays for treating injuries to the driver and other people in the car after an accident.

Coverages your lender may require you to have

Collision

This pays for damage to your car if you collide with another car or object, or your car flips over. It can also pay for damage to your car due to driving over potholes.

Comprehensive

This will reimburse you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object. This could include fire, vandalism or contact with an animal, such as a deer.

Other types of coverage to consider

Most insurers offer other types of coverage, which will likely increase your premium so consider carefully what you will need and talk it over with your insurance agent or broker.

Driving to nearby foreign countries

Your auto insurance typically will cover you if you drive into Canada, but check with your insurance agent before you make the trip.  To drive into Mexico, you’ll need to buy Mexican auto insurance. Be sure to ask your agent about other requirements.

Gap insurance

Unless you buy gap insurance through your insurance agent or broker to pay off our auto loan in the event your vehicle’s totaled in an accident, the typical auto policy only covers the value of your car, not your auto loan.

Rental reimbursement coverage

Rental reimbursement helps ensure you have a vehicle to drive after an accident if yours is in the shop for repairs.

Roadside assistance coverage

In case your vehicle breaks down, if often covers the cost of the towing service and the per-mile fees up to a specified amount. If you pay the towing company at the time of service, your insurer reimburses you after it processes your claim.

Umbrella liability policies

For an extra layer of protection, these are separate policies that are applied after you've exhausted your liability protection in your auto and/or homeowner policies. It protects you from financial liability if you cause damage to another person or their property.