A startling number of Washington motorists are uninsured or underinsured, and that means many insured drivers may be less protected than they think.
Uninsured motorist insurance protects you if you have losses caused by a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance or doesn’t have the appropriate level of coverage. It’s not expensive, and it can make a dramatic difference if you’re ever involved in a car accident.
“Please make sure you’re carrying uninsured motorist insurance. It’s the number one piece of advice I give, and I give it to anyone who drives. I’ve seen the consequences for my clients over the years — the outcomes are always better when clients have uninsured motorist insurance,” says Chris Walton, founder of Walton Law in Snohomish County.
Approximately 20 percent of Washington motorists don’t have insurance
The risk of being involved in a vehicle accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver is higher than you might think.
- The minimum amount of motor insurance required in Washington is very low. Many motorists in Washington are under insured, with only $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury and a maximum of $50,000 in bodily injury per incident. “If four people are travelling in the same car and they’re rear-ended by a driver, that’s considered a single incident. If the driver at-fault only has minimum coverage, there would be only $50,000 available for all four people injured,” Walton says. Motor insurance minimums only include $10,000 in property damage as well.
- An estimated 21.7 percent of drivers have no insurance at all. According to a 2021 study by the Insurance Information Institute, an estimated 21.7 percent of Washington drivers are uninsured, the fifth highest in the country.
“When you combine the number of drivers with the minimum and those who are uninsured, that’s really scary. It comes into play in many of the personal injury cases at Walton Law,” Walton says.
Protect yourself — the solution is simple
When you opt-in to uninsured motorist insurance, you’ll be covered if you’re hit by a motorist with no insurance, or a motorist who’s not carrying enough insurance.
“This insurance also covers you if you’re a pedestrian struck by a vehicle, if you’re a passenger in another person’s car, if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run or hit by a phantom vehicle,” Walton says.
Without uninsured motorist insurance you may be in a very difficult financial situation, with very little hope of recovering those losses from the driver at fault.
“Every policy has different restrictions, so it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer to understand your rights,” Walton says.