The worst thing about driving is the cost; there’s gas, oil, the all-important CD player, and something that takes a really big bite out of your wallet - insurance. Everyone in the state of Washington is required to have basic liability insurance. Since you have to have it, here are some basic tips on how to get the best deal and save yourself (or your parents) some money.

Liability insurance covers damages and injuries to others caused by you with your car. It is sold as two separate types. Bodily injury and property damage are the two types of liability insurance. Bodily injury liability protects you if you are in an accident where someone is hurt or injured, while property damage liability covers the damages you cause to another person’s property.

Your insurance policy describes the amount of liability coverage in split limits. The Revised Code of Washington states the minimum split limits as $25,000/$50,000/$10,000. The first amount is the maximum that your insurance company will pay for bodily injuries of one person; the second amount is the maximum your insurance company will pay for bodily injuries of two or more people and the third amount is the maximum your insurance company will pay for the other person’s damages.

You might feel relieved to know that Washington only requires liability insurance, but even a basic liability plan can be very expensive. According to the Washington State Insurance Commissioner, insurance rates are determined by the following factors:

• Age: Drivers under the age of 30 are charged higher rates because statistics show they have more accidents per mile.
• Gender: Males under the age of 30 are charged higher rates than females because they are involved in more accidents per mile than any other demographic.
• Car: Sports cars and high performance cars cost more to insure because they are involved in more accidents, they cost more to repair, and they are more likely to be stolen.
• Location: If you live in a heavily populated area, you will most likely pay a higher premium (amount you pay to your insurance company). If you move, you should immediately inform your company about the change.
• Driving Pattern: If you use your car more, you will have to pay more.
• Driving History/ Claims History: Your rates increase for every accident and claim made.
The Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner also offers several ways to save money on car insurance. They include:
• Choose the right car--Before buying a new car, always ask your insurance agent what your rates will be for any cars you are considering. Consumer Reports is a great way to research information on the accident and theft rates of different vehicles.
• Pay a higher deductible--If you increase your deductible (amount of damages you pay before your insurance takes over), your premium will decrease.
• Take advantage of special discounts--Ask the insurance company if they have any special discounts. Discounts are available to drivers that have had no accidents or convictions and to young drivers who are good students. You can also get discounts for safety additions such as anti-lock brakes, seat belts, air bags, and anti-theft systems.

When choosing auto insurance, remember that all companies’ rates are different, and you should always check the rates of as many insurance companies as possible. You can also ask people you know about the companies they use. They will be able to tell you how the company treats their customers. The Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner website has an article that compares the number of complaints filed against different companies, so you can check on how your insurance company was rated.