is motorcycle insurance required in washington state

Washington State has some of the most beautiful scenery in the nation, so it comes as no surprise that this is a very popular state for motorcycles.

If you decide to purchase a motorcycle, it is important that you understand the laws and insurance required of all motorcyclists in the state.

These rules protect motorcyclists, and failure to adhere to these Washington State motorcycle laws could mean that the court could find you liable in an accident.

To learn more about motorcycle laws and insurance requirements in Washington, call or contact the motorcycle attorneys at Kapuza Lighty in Yakima today.

Washington State Motorcycle Laws

One of the most important laws for motorcyclists in Washington is that all drivers must have both a driver’s license and a motorcycle endorsement.

Washington Motorcycle License and Registration

To obtain an endorsement, a driver must either complete a motorcycle rider course that includes a knowledge and skills test or take a knowledge and skills test for riding in traffic and avoiding collisions at the Washington Department of Licensing.

There are separate endorsements for two-wheeled and three-wheeled motorcycles because they handle differently.

If you ride without an endorsement, you could be fined. Authorities could also choose to impound your motorcycle if you are operating it on the road without the necessary endorsement.

Motorcycles with a fully enclosed seating area and steering wheel are exempt from needing a motorcycle endorsement.

Washington Motorcycle Registration Requirements  

You must register your motorcycle with the state before you take it out on the road. You must show proof of ownership of the motorcycle with a title or bill of sale to prove that the vehicle is yours.

When you purchase a motorcycle from a dealer, they will usually handle all the title transfer paperwork. If you receive a motorcycle as a gift or purchase it from a private seller, you have only 15 days from the date you receive it to get the title transferred. You’ll need to fill out and sign a bill of sale and title application in front of a notary public as well.

In addition, if the motorcycle is less than ten years old, you must include an Odometer Disclosure Statement. Some counties require an emissions testing report. Check with your county to see if you must qualify your vehicle with this test. WA state motorcycle laws require all registered motorcycles to display a valid license plate at all times.

Helmet Laws in Washington

Helmets are also required by law when riding a motorcycle in Washington State. The helmet must be approved by U.S. Department of Transportation standards.

Motorcycle Equipment Laws in Washington

It also helps minimize the chances of receiving a traumatic brain injury in an accident and shows the court that you were doing everything you could to minimize damages when making a claim for compensation in a personal injury case.

In terms of motorcycle equipment, Washington law mandates that all motorcycles have left and right side mirrors that provide visibility to at least 200 feet to the rear. Motorcycles must also have a windshield unless the driver is wearing safety glasses, goggles, or a face shield. A horn, muffler, head and tail lights, and handlebars no higher than thirty inches above the seat are also required by state law.

Washington Motorcycle Operation Laws

The law requires that all motorcyclists in Washington adhere to the rules of the road as well as traffic signals and stops. This includes traffic signs, yield signs, no passing signs, and instructions by police.

However, because motorcycles are not always heavy enough to trigger red light sensors at intersections, motorcycles are allowed to go through red lights if they have made a complete stop, waited for at least one cycle, and do not violate the right of way of other vehicles or pedestrians.

Motorcycle laws in Washington State also state that motorcycles must meet specific sound restrictions. The Washington Administrative Code says that motorcycles can’t exceed a sound level of 78 dBA when driving at 45 mph or less or 82 dBA when traveling over 45 mph.

When operating in traffic, motorcycles are allowed to use the entire lane and share the lane with another motorcycle. However, the law does not allow for lane splitting, which is when a motorcycle rides in between lanes of traffic.

If the motorcycle has only one seat, you cannot have more than a single rider. You can carry a passenger only if there is a second seat, saddle, or sidecar that is designed to carry another passenger.

Washington Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

One of the most common questions riders want to know is, Do motorcycles need insurance in Washington State?

Up until July 28, 2019, motorcyclists were exempt from the state’s mandatory auto insurance laws. However, a new law requires that all motorcyclists must carry liability coverage and proof of insurance in order to ride on the state’s roadways.

Under the new law, any motorcyclist driving in Washington State must do one of the following options:

  • Carry liability motorcycle insurance with the following policy minimums: $25,000 for injury or death of one person, $50,000 for injuries or death for multiple people, and $10,000 for property damage;
  • Apply for a Certificate of Deposit to pay for liability insurance with the state’s Department of Licensing;
  • Have a liability bond of at least $60,000 with a surety bond company licensed to do business in Washington State; or
  • Self-insure if you have 26 or more vehicles registered in your name.

If you fail to carry the required minimums for motorcycle insurance in Washington State, you can be fined hundreds of dollars and potentially have your motorcycle license suspended until proof of insurance is shown.

This law is relatively new, so if you have any questions about the new insurance requirements for motorcycles, you should speak with an attorney about what is necessary to abide by the new law.

Call Our Office Now

Washington State’s motorcycle laws and insurance requirements are meant to protect motorcyclists on the road and ensure their protection in an accident.

With new motorcycle laws enacted in the state it can be beneficial to speak with a lawyer about the changes. Call the office or contact us today at Kapuza Lighty in Yakima to speak with an attorney now.


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