Car insurance rate hikes are here in Washington state

Bad news for most drivers – car insurance premiums are going up, and it doesn’t matter if you have a clean driving record.

That means some people will be in for a bit of sticker shock. People who’ve renewed for the year are already reporting rate hikes of $12 to $18 per month.

Mariano Harris, a Renton driver, said his rates are increasing by about $200 this year.

“Mine is ridiculous,” Harris said. “It’s terrible. Especially when you don’t get that much on your job.” Combined with inflation and other rising costs, Harris said he’s had to come out of retirement and go back to work.

“My friend’s insurance just did just the other day, and she’s like, ‘Why did my rates go up so high?’” said Jackie Nolan, another Renton driver. “It was an $18 increase from what she was paying, and she’s on a fixed income,” she said.

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner says it is seeing rate hike requests come in from insurance companies.

“Insurance companies are a little nervous about having enough funds to pay for all the claims, so they put in requests to increase their rates,” said David Forte, the Senior Policy Advisor on Property and Casualty. He says inflation is just one of a swath of reasons compounding to make insurance more expensive.

“It’s the increased fatalities. It’s the higher medical costs for folks that are injured. It is the complexity of cars going up and up,” Forte said. “Therefore, the cost to repair goes up and up. The supply chain issues that delay parts from being available.” That means even good drivers with clean records will likely see a hike.

Forte expects the average increase this year in Washington will be 2% – far lower than the national average. According to a report from Value Penguin and Lending Tree, the national average car insurance hike will be about 8.4%.

Kenton Brine is with the Northwest Insurance Council, a nonprofit that looks out for customers. Brine says the good news is there are about 200 car insurance providers in Washington state, making it a competitive market where companies want to hold on to your business.

“By and large, companies who have a good customer base aren’t looking for ways to chase their customers away. So they’re price-sensitive as well,” Brine said. “If you are dissatisfied with a rate increase that you received from your insurer, the first thing to do is to call your insurance agent or your company. Find out why the rate went up, and if you’re not receiving discounts that you’re entitled to,” he said.

Divya Sangameshwar, an insurance spokesperson with the Lending Tree, also reminds drivers that the biggest added cost to your insurance bill is getting a traffic violation.

In Washington state, a speeding ticket will add $1,860 to your annual car insurance cost on average. A DUI will add $2,605.

“So they’re going to automatically classify you as higher risk, and that’s why your rates go up. Take it as a sort of a lesson for the year forward – let’s all drive safely. Leave 10 minutes early and don’t speed,” Sangameshwar said.

Meanwhile, people are bracing to see how expensive their premiums will be.

“I pay $250 a month,” said Jessica Wilkins, who has a teen on her insurance too. “We track every penny in this house. I hope it doesn’t go up too much,” she said.

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