If there is a lapse with auto insurance coverage the NC DMV is notified by the insurance company. When this occurred in your situation the NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) should have mailed you a letter about Recertification of Liability Insurance Coverage to which you would have needed to respond by providing your new insurance information. If you did not do this within the required amount of time, the North Carolina DMV could revoke your license plate for at least 30 days.
After the revocation period you must pay a $50 restoration fee, $50 service fee and appropriate license plate fee. The service fee can be avoided by surrendering your license plate to the DMV during the 10 day period after receiving a notice of revocation (some say you can turn it in at any time). It appears you have to get it turned in and wait 30 days to get your plates back, which does seem unrealistic to CarInsurance.com.
Whether you did receive a notice and respond or did not get or respond to a notice, you need to contact the DMV to see if you pay the restoration fees and show current proof of insurance and to see if you can not turn in your plates.
If you change insurance carriers or you have a lapse of coverage, your insurance company is required by law to notify the Division of Motor Vehicles. When the Division receives this information, they are required to send Form FS 5-7 Notice, and you are required to respond within 10 days.
Failure to respond within the required time can result in the loss of your license plate for 30 days.
There can be mistakes by the NC DMV. If you can show proof of coverage (without a lapse) and they cannot provide proof of mailing the FS 5-7 notice then they must return your plates and not charge you the restoration fee or service fee. This entire procedure puts a lot of un-needed burden on the average, honest driver. It also adds to your taxes because of the bureaucracy involved.
To avoid a lapse of coverage, make certain that you purchase your new insurance policy before canceling your old one. When you are in need of North Carolina auto insurance in the future think of CarInsurance.com first.