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Best Cheap Car Insurance in Washington for 2020

Jan. 2, 2020
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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Quotes for auto coverage can land all over the place depending on which companies you shop with, so comparing rates is crucial if you want cheap car insurance in Washington.

To help shoppers find the best deal, NerdWallet looked at rates from the nine largest car insurers in the state and found the cheapest options for several types of drivers.

Cheapest for good drivers in Washington

For Washington residents with clean driving and credit records, the cheapest insurance companies and their average rates are:

  1. Geico: $970 per year.
  2. Pemco: $1,030 per year.
  3. Progressive: $1,321 per year.
  4. Travelers: $1,338 per year.
  5. State Farm: $1,402 per year.
Drivers with no recent accidents or violations can get cheaper car insurance rates for having good credit. For this calculation, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women with a clean driving record and good credit. In terms of driving and credit history, a large portion of drivers are closest to this profile, which carries standard "full coverage" insurance, including comprehensive and collision, along with state-required coverage. Prices shown include a good driver discount, when available from the insurer.

Cheapest for minimum coverage in Washington

Bare-bones coverage in Washington is cheapest from these insurers, ranked by average rates for drivers with clean driving and credit histories:

  1. Pemco: $486 per year.
  2. Geico: $498 per year.
  3. Progressive: $666 per year.
  4. Safeco: $668 per year.
  5. State Farm: $689 per year.
We calculated these numbers by averaging rates for 40-year-old good drivers (earning them a discount if the insurer offers one) who have only the minimum mandatory insurance in their state. Such light coverage isn't typically recommended since it might not cover all the bills resulting from a car accident, but it's better than nothing — especially if you can't afford much more. If you're looking for the cheapest possible insurance you can get, though, you'll still want to get quotes from at least three auto insurers.

Cheapest for good drivers with poor credit

Washingtonians with blemished credit and a clean driving record might want to get a quote from one of these companies, which showed the lowest average rates for this group:

  1. Geico: $1,615 per year.
  2. Progressive: $2,224 per year.
  3. Pemco: $2,244 per year.
  4. Travelers: $2,365 per year.
  5. Allstate: $2,504 per year.
If you have a spotty credit history, it's important to shop around to find the cheapest auto insurance rates you can. Poor credit can have a bigger effect on car insurance premiums than even a DUI conviction or a recent at-fault crash, but prices vary by insurer. To calculate these figures, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-olds with a clean driving record and associated good driver discount, if the insurer offered one. They had poor credit as reported to their insurer, and standard "full coverage" car insurance.

Cheapest for drivers with one at-fault crash

For Washington drivers who have recently caused a wreck, the cheapest car insurance companies and their average rates are:

  1. Pemco: $1,360 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,426 per year.
  3. State Farm: $1,814 per year.
  4. Travelers: $1,879 per year.
  5. Safeco: $2,052 per year.
After a relatively minor crash, some auto insurers will charge a lot more than others for coverage. To get these figures, we averaged rates for 40-year-olds with typical "full coverage" insurance and one recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Your rates will remain high for three to five years after you cause an accident or have a moving violation — and you still may be rejected for coverage from certain companies, including those above. If you fall into this category, be sure to shop for new insurance rates just after the three-year and five-year anniversaries of your infraction.

Cheapest insurance after a DUI in Washington

These are the cheapest insurers for Washington drivers with a recent DUI on their record, ranked by average rates:

  1. Pemco: $1,616 per year.
  2. Progressive: $1,624 per year.
  3. Allstate: $1,976 per year.
  4. Travelers: $2,101 per year.
  5. Safeco: $2,103 per year.
A conviction for driving under the influence, or DUI, generally results in higher auto insurance premiums than before. NerdWallet analyzed rates for 40-year-old drivers and standard “full coverage” car insurance with a recent DUI conviction to see which companies were cheapest. Be warned that you may be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. Rates can vary by hundreds between carriers after a DUI, and some penalize for longer than others, so it’s important to shop around for the best available price right after you see a price hike and each year after that.

Cheapest insurance after a ticket in Washington

For Washington drivers with a recent speeding ticket on their record, here are the cheapest companies and average rates:

  1. Geico: $970 per year.
  2. Pemco: $1,252 per year.
  3. State Farm: $1,635 per year.
  4. Allstate: $1,666 per year.
  5. Progressive: $1,799 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket will result in higher car insurance rates from most companies for three to five years. To see who has the cheapest rates, we calculated average car insurance rates for 40-year-old drivers with “full coverage” insurance and a recent ticket for speeding 16 mph over the limit. Though these larger companies were the cheapest we found on average, others may be cheaper for you, so be sure to get at least three quotes before deciding on a carrier.

Cheapest for couples and families in Washington

The best auto insurance rates for families don’t always come from the companies that are cheapest for singles. That’s why we checked rates for a married couple in Washington, plus a couple with a teen driver, to find out which insurers’ prices are lowest. It’s smart to shop around for car insurance quotes after any big change in your life, such as moving, getting married or adding a teen driver, because companies consider these factors differently when setting their rates.

Cheapest for a married couple in Washington

For a husband and wife, both 50 years old with clean driving and credit records, these are the cheapest companies and average rates for insuring two vehicles in Washington:

  1. Pemco: $1,311 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,367 per year.
  3. Progressive: $1,843 per year.
  4. Safeco: $2,063 per year.
  5. Travelers: $2,197 per year.
Couples who live together can save on auto insurance by combining policies, whether they are married or not, because they can earn multi-car and multi-driver discounts. Once they tie the knot, rates can dip further, but not because of discounts — insurers see married people as less risky and so charge them lower rates. Our hypothetical 50-year-old couple’s clean driving record also earns them both a good driver discount.

Cheapest for families with a teen in Washington

A Washington married couple with an 18-year-old driver on their policy may want to look at these companies, which returned the cheapest average rates for this two-vehicle family:

  1. Pemco: $2,254 per year.
  2. Geico: $2,455 per year.
  3. Progressive: $3,519 per year.
  4. Allstate: $3,938 per year.
  5. Travelers: $4,068 per year.
Adding a teen with two years’ driving experience to a married couple's policy is sure to cause a big jump in rates. Since different insurers tend to see a teen’s inexperience in different ways, we analyzed rates to see which companies had the cheapest car insurance for teens. These rates are averaged for 50-year-old couples with male and female 18-year-old drivers.

Cheapest for young drivers in Washington

Auto insurance isn’t typically cheap for people in their 20s, but some companies offer lower rates than others, even for inexperienced drivers. That’s because when insurers set prices, they factor in age, driving experience, and other personal characteristics differently. To find out which companies are cheapest for young drivers, we checked rates for 25-year-olds in Washington.

Cheapest full coverage for young good drivers

For a Washington 25-year-old with clean driving and credit records, the cheapest insurance companies and their average rates for a full coverage policy are:

  1. Pemco: $1,214 per year.
  2. Progressive: $1,449 per year.
  3. Geico: $1,504 per year.
  4. Travelers: $1,523 per year.
  5. Allstate: $1,577 per year.
Drivers in their 20s can have a hard time finding cheap car insurance, and that's even truer when they need full coverage. The rates above are averages for 25-year-old male and female drivers with comprehensive and collision coverages, which are often required for drivers with active auto loans or leases. These rates reflect a good driver discount. Young drivers, like all drivers, should check several quotes to find the cheapest for the coverage levels they need.

Cheapest minimum coverage for young good drivers

Young drivers who opt for Washington’s minimum required coverage may want to consider these companies, which returned the cheapest average rates for this group:

  1. Pemco: $550 per year.
  2. Progressive: $681 per year.
  3. Geico: $781 per year.
  4. State Farm: $803 per year.
  5. Travelers: $815 per year.
Since young people often have fewer assets to protect with liability insurance, they can usually get away with lower coverage limits. For an age group with relatively high insurance rates on average, that's good news, keeping rates as low as possible. For this price set, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers who have clean driving records, good credit and bare-bones insurance coverage.

Poor credit and minimum coverage

The cheapest insurers and average rates for a 25-year-old with poor credit, buying Washington’s minimum required coverage, are:

  1. Progressive: $1,174 per year.
  2. Pemco: $1,198 per year.
  3. Geico: $1,302 per year.
  4. Allstate: $1,467 per year.
  5. Travelers: $1,487 per year.
Poor credit is common for younger folks just starting out, who may still be building their credit files. That can increase rates further, so it's extra important to shop around and compare as many insurance quotes as possible to find the cheapest you can get. For these prices, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with no recent accidents or violations (earning them a good driver discount), minimum coverage car insurance, and credit in the "poor" tier as reported to an insurer.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a crash

For a young driver in Washington who’s at fault in a recent wreck, the cheapest insurers and their average rates for minimum coverage are:

  1. Pemco: $702 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,016 per year.
  3. State Farm: $1,053 per year.
  4. Travelers: $1,062 per year.
  5. Safeco: $1,166 per year.
To get prices for this group, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with good credit and a recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Since car insurance is often pricier after a crash, and especially so for young drivers, we assumed minimum required insurance in the state to contain costs for our hypothetical driver. Depending on your situation, you may still be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. If you've caused a crash, no matter your age, be sure to check auto insurance quotes just after the third and fifth anniversaries of your incident, when insurers often adjust rates downward.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a DUI

For 25-year-old drivers in Washington with a recent DUI on their record, these are the cheapest companies and average rates for minimum required insurance:

  1. Progressive: $822 per year.
  2. Pemco: $836 per year.
  3. Allstate: $1,078 per year.
  4. Safeco: $1,166 per year.
  5. Travelers: $1,207 per year.
Young drivers with a recent DUI on their records will need to be diligent to find the lowest car insurance rates they can get — it's likely that many companies' rates will be quite expensive. Depending on the circumstances, you may be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. But spending the time to shop around for quotes can help you find the lowest price from a company available to you. For this analysis, we averaged rates for male and female 25-year-old drivers with a recent DUI conviction. They had good credit and minimum required car insurance, which helps keep rates down.

Cheapest for minimum coverage and a ticket

After a speeding ticket, these companies show the cheapest average rates for a young Washington driver buying minimum coverage:

  1. Pemco: $636 per year.
  2. Geico: $781 per year.
  3. Progressive: $902 per year.
  4. Allstate: $940 per year.
  5. State Farm: $941 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket is never fun, and neither is the higher car insurance bill you may receive months later. At that point, it's time to shop around for better rates, and it wouldn't hurt to repeat on your third and fifth ticket anniversaries, when insurers may adjust rates downward. We analyzed rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with a recent speeding violation for going 16 mph over the speed limit to see prices for this group.

Cheap for military families

If you’re an active military member or a veteran, or have an immediate family member who is, you can find pretty cheap car insurance in Washington from USAA, a company that’s unavailable to the general public. For that reason, we don’t rank it alongside other companies, but USAA was among the five cheapest options for every driver type listed above.

» MORE: Best car insurance for veterans and military

Recap: Cheapest car insurance in Washington

  • Good drivers: Geico.
  • Minimum coverage: Pemco.
  • Poor credit: Geico.
  • After an at-fault crash: Pemco.
  • After a DUI: Pemco.
  • After a speeding ticket: Geico.
  • Married couples: Pemco.
  • Families with a teen: Pemco.
  • Young good drivers: Pemco.
  • Minimum coverage for young good drivers: Pemco.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers with poor credit: Progressive.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a crash: Pemco.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a DUI: Progressive.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a ticket: Pemco.

» MORE: Compare car insurance

Minimum auto insurance limits required in Washington

Washington drivers are required to purchase liability insurance. If you’re ever found at fault in a car accident, liability coverage pays for others’ property damage and injury expenses so you don’t have to cover these bills out of your own pocket.

The minimum auto liability limits in Washington are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per crash.
  • $10,000 property damage liability per crash.

While this will be enough to drive legally, it’s usually wise to select more than the bare minimum, because a serious crash could easily leave you owing more than, say, $10,000 in property damage. You might also want common optional coverages such as collision, comprehensive and uninsured motorist protection.

Check out NerdWallet’s guide to car insurance requirements by state to learn more about how the parts of your Washington auto policy work.

Alternative car insurance in Washington

Drivers who are denied coverage on the voluntary market because of poor credit, a spotty driving record or other factors can apply for a policy through the Washington Automobile Insurance Plan.

Or, you could forgo auto insurance entirely by posting a certificate of deposit with the state for at least $60,000 to prove your financial responsibility under Washington law.

For more help finding great rates on your Washington auto coverage, try NerdWallet’s tool for car insurance comparisons.

Methodology

For our “good driver” profile, NerdWallet averaged rates from the largest insurers in the state for 40-year-old men and women in all ZIP codes with 12,000 annual miles driven. The policy includes:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident.
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.
  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
If required, minimum additional coverages were added and "good driver" discounts were automatically applied. Our “young driver” had all the same characteristics, but average rates were for 25-year-old men and women. We used a 2016 Toyota Camry LE for all single drivers. We used the same assumptions for all other driver profiles, with the following exceptions:

  • For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect minimum required coverage by law in the state.
  • We changed the credit tier from “good” to “poor” as reported to the insurer to see rates for drivers with poor credit.
  • For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage.
  • For drivers with a ticket, we added a single speeding violation for driving 16 mph over the speed limit.
  • For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken driving violation.
Couples in our analyses were 50-year-old men and women with good credit and clean driving histories, averaged across all ZIP codes with the same policy outlined above. To see rates for families with a teen, we added an 18-year-old licensed two years ago, averaging rates for male and female teens. For couples and families we added a 2016 Nissan Rogue S to create a two-car household.

In all cases, a paperless discount, e-signature discount and electronic funds transfer discount were automatically applied. These are rates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.