Washington Insurance

Washington Insurance
Washington Insurance

If you’re a Washington resident looking for insurance, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled all the info you need to help you find home, auto, life, health or long term care insurance right here on this page.

We recommend you read it over, contact the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner at (360) 725-7000 with any questions, and let us help you find the coverage you need today.

Auto Insurance

About 60 auto insurers currently make their headquarters in Washington state. These companies, regulated by insurance commissioner’s office, set rates according to claims risk levels. Therefore, insurance and premium rates vary throughout the state, depending upon the risk rates in specific areas.

Like many others, this state requires only liability insurance, which covers bodily injury and property damage you cause others while driving your automobile. You must carry at least these amounts of liability coverage to drive within your state, often referred to as 25/50/10 coverage:

  • $25,000 per person
  • $50,000 per accident
  • $10,000 in property damage

Many Washingtonians choose to carry additional liability insurance, further protecting themselves and their wallets from additional expense or suit due to accidents.

Various other, non-required coverages are also offered by many insurers in your state, including:

  1. Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which pays for portions of medical expenses, lost wages and resulting child care costs, regardless who is at fault
  2. Medical payments coverage, which pays for medical and funeral expenses, and eases financial difficulties for families of injured parties
  3. Collision, which covers damage to your car caused by a collision with another vehicle
  4. Comprehensive, which covers damage to your car by means other than collision, and
  5. Uninsured/underinsured motorist, which covers personal injury or property damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver

Whether buying a new policy or renewing an existing one, check your policy declarations page to make sure all the coverage types you need are listed. A licensed car insurance agent can help you determine which coverages you need and why.

Health Insurance

Health insurance in your state comes packaged in one of two ways:

  1. Employer plans: Consists of group plans available through your employer, self-employed plans you purchase yourself as a business owner, professional organization and association plans you get through your association with a particular industry or professional group, and COBRA benefits you acquire through a small employer or bring with you from a previous job.
  2. Individual/family plans: More commonly known as commercial health plans. These include managed-care plans such as HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations), fee-for-service (or “major medical”) plans, PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) and POS (Point-of-Service) plans.

The largest percentage of insured Washingtonians holds coverage through employer-sponsored health insurance. However, those who are not employed or do not have insurance through their spouse’s employer should consider an individual or family plan.

Talk to a licensed health or medical insurance agent for explanations of these plans to help determine which type best suits your individual needs.

Please note: Read each policy’s terms and conditions carefully before purchase, including the small print, and make sure you understand all coverages completely before signing or agreeing to anything.

On another note, state legislature passed the “Patient Bill of Rights” in 2000 to ensure you receive quality health care when you need it.

This bill provides you with the right to:

  • Information regarding your own health plan
  • Quick and impartial appeals when you are denied coverage
  • Independent, third-party reviews of coverage denials
  • Protection from invasions to your privacy
  • Compensation for damages resulting from not getting needed care, or getting insufficient care, from your managed-care provider

Your Washington Insurance Commissioner’s Office offers free, specialized health insurance education, assistance and information. For more information on your health insurance rights, contact the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) Helpline at 800-397-4422.

Home Insurance

Your home is likely one of the most expensive purchases you will make in your lifetime. Therefore, it’s important to take the steps necessary to ensure your investment is protected. And knowledge is your best weapon to doing so.

Your choices in homeowners insurance plan types vary, but usually include basic, broad, special and comprehensive policies. Basic plans are the least expensive and broad the most, in general terms. However, the widest variations are a result of damages covered, as well as price.

Some of the most basic things these plans protect you against are “perils” such as fire, theft, vandalism and hail. Other more extensive protections include personal property, medical payments and personal liability coverage.

Policies are also available for renters, condominium owners and mobile home owners. Speak with a licensed home insurer in your state to determine what type of policy and applicable coverages are appropriate in your situation.

Please note: If you finance your home, your mortgage lender may specify a certain amount of homeowners coverage you must purchase. However, you may choose your own insurance company with no obligation to use the company recommended by your lender.

But what determines your home insurance rates? The amount you pay is made up of a “base rate,” plus or minus varying amounts, depending on the following factors related to you and your home:

  • Construction and age
  • Location
  • Replacement cost and the amount of insurance you carry
  • Credit history
  • Claims history

The extent of the influence these elements hold over your premium varies, but a licensed insurance agent can help you determine your own base rate. You can then subtract that from your final premium quotations to decide which company is offering you the best price for your money.

Life Insurance

Your life insurance purchase is perhaps one of the most important steps you will take toward ensuring your family’s future in your absence. Your insurance policy helps protect your family in the event of your death by providing them with income and education, and enabling your spouse to pay off your home mortgage, funeral expenses and other debts.

Life insurance can be purchased in Washington on an individual or group basis. Most group plans are provided by employers, and are usually term life insurance that is renewed yearly. State residents who are unemployed, self-employed or not able to purchase life insurance through their employer should consider an individual life insurance plan.

You can choose between two different types of life insurance plans. Here’s a quick summary of both to help you determine which might fit your needs best:

  • Term life—usually purchased for a specific time period (usually one, five, 10 or 20 years). Benefits paid only if you die while the policy is in effect. Cheaper than whole life and more practical if you need a large amount of coverage for a particular period of time. Rates increase as you get older. Coverage ends when you stop paying premiums or at the end of the term specified. May also be “convertible” to a whole life policy.
  • Whole life (sometimes called permanent life, ordinary life or straight life)—provides lifetime coverage and accumulates cash value over time, which you may borrow against. May also pay you dividends. Premium rates remain stable as long as the policy is in effect. Rates depend on your age at time of purchase, and do not increase as you age.

A life insurance policy is a legal, binding contract between you and your insurance company, spelling out the rights and obligations each of you has, your policy premium and payment schedule, your benefits you are entitled to under the policy and the circumstances under which those benefits are paid. So make sure you understand everything your policy does and does not cover before signing on that dotted line.

The life insurance plan that offers you the lowest premium with the most benefits is your best value. The type of policy you choose will depend on your age and the age of your family, your health and the level of financial hardship your family might face if you were to die.

Keep in mind that any life insurance policy you purchase will contain a 10-day “Free Look” period, by state mandate. This means you have 10 days to examine it and, if you’re not completely satisfied, you may return it to the agent or company you purchased it from for cancellation and a full refund.

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