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 experience a little sticker shock. People who extended for the year are already reporting rate hikes of $12 to $18 a month.

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Mariano Harris, a Renton driver, said his prices will increase by about $200 this year.

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

“My girlfriend’s insurance just recently did it, and she’s like, ‘Why have my rates gone up so high?'” said Jackie Nolan, another Renton driver. “It was an $18 increase over what she was paying and she’s on a steady income,” she said.

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner says requests for rate hikes are coming in from insurance companies.

“Insurance companies are a little nervous because they have enough money to pay all the claims, so they’re making requests to increase their rates,” said David Forte, senior policy advisor on property and casualty. He says inflation is just one of many reasons insurance is more expensive.

“It’s the increased deaths. It’s the higher medical costs for the injured. It’s the complexity of cars going higher and higher,” Forte said. “That’s why the repair costs keep rising. Supply chain issues delaying parts availability.” That means even good drivers with clean records are likely to see a hike.

Forte expects the average increase this year in Washington to be 2% — far below the national average. According to a report by Value Penguin and Lending Tree, the national average auto insurance increase will be about 8.4%.

Kenton Brine works at the Northwest Insurance Council, a non-profit organization that takes care of customers. According to Brine, the good news is that there are about 200 auto insurance providers in Washington state, making it a competitive market for companies to want to hold on to their business.

“By and large, companies with a good customer base don’t look for ways to drive their customers away. So they’re also price-sensitive,” Brine said. “If you are unhappy with a rate increase you received from your insurer, the first thing you should do is call your insurance agent or your company. Find out why the price has gone up and if you’re not getting any discounts you’re entitled to,” he said.

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

In Washington state, a speeding ticket adds an average of $1,860 to your annual car insurance costs. A DUI adds $2,605.

“So they’ll automatically classify you as riskier, and that’s why your rates go up. Take it as a lesson of sorts for the year ahead – let’s all ride safe. Start 10 minutes early and don’t drive too fast,” Sangameshwar said.

Meanwhile, people are curious how expensive their premiums will be.

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

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