Car insurance isn’t the same in every state. If you live and drive in North Carolina, you’re in the right place to find out everything you need to know about buying coverage. Learn how to get the cheapest possible car insurance rates, what coverage options are right for you, and how North Carolina car insurance laws affect you.
North Carolina car insurance requirements
North Carolina state law requires the following minimum car insurance coverage:
Minimum bodily injury liability
Minimum property damage liability
Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury
Uninsured motorist property damage
$25,000 ($100 deductible)
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Many factors affect how much you pay for car insurance and where you live is chief among them. Each insurer uses its own formula to calculate your rate based on your age, your driving record, the model of car you have, the severity and frequency of claims in your neighborhood and other variables. That’s why the cost for the same policy can vary significantly among insurance companies — and why you should compare rates. For example, in Fayetteville ZIP code 28303, the highest rate among six carriers is ($1,241) is twice as much as the lowest ($510).
How much is car insurance in North Carolina?
The average car insurance rate in North Carolina is $800 a year.
That's the third least-expensive annual rate in the country.
Cheap car insurance in North Carolina
The Tar Heel State mandates that drivers carry minimum liability coverage limits of 30/60/25 on their vehicles. It's pretty decent coverage and usually can be found at a decent price. North Carolina car insurance premiums are some of the lowest in the nation. However, if you opt for the cheapest car insurance in North Carolina, you are only covered for damage you do to other drivers’ cars and for others’ injuries. That means your insurer won’t pay for damage to your car or for your injuries if you cause an accident. Still, buying just the minimum coverage required is a good idea if you have an old car or don’t drive much.
If you want more protection, it will cost more, but as you’ll see in the chart below, additional coverage is typically affordable in North Carolina. Boosting coverage from the state minimum to full coverage with a $1,000 deductible costs, on average, $533 more, or $44 a month.
Average annual rate
Liability only – state minimum
Liability Only - 50/100/50 BI/PD
Full Coverage - 100/300/100 BI/PD
$1,000 Comp/Collision deductible
Full Coverage - 100/300/100 BI/PD
$500 Comp/Collision deductible
Full Coverage - 100/300/100 BI/PD
$250 Comp/Collision deductible
*The table shows the average annual rate of 10 ZIP codes in the state from the following carriers, in no particular order: Progressive, Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, GEICO and Farmers. Data was provided for CarInsurance.com by Quadrant Information Services.
Recommended car insurance coverage
Deciding how much car insurance to buy depends on a few factors. To drive legally, you must buy at least the minimum liability insurance required by your state. If your car isn’t financed or leased and you don’t have a lot of money or assets to protect, that might be a wise choice. If, however, you don’t own your car outright, you will be required to get additional comprehensive and collision coverage. Additionally, if you have a home and savings to protect, it’s prudent to buy more coverage. Use our How Much Car Insurance Do You Need? tool to get a recommendation after considering the following key factors outlined here.
The more money and assets you have, the more likely it is that you may be sued following a car accident. Unless you are determined to pay the lowest car insurance rate possible, we recommend you buy higher than minimum liability coverage. If your net worth is:
less than $50,000, choose at least 50/100/50
between $50,000 and $100,000, choose at least 100/300/100
more than $100,000, choose at least 250/500/100
If you're leasing or financing your car, you automatically need coverage of 100/300/100 or higher.
Collision and comprehensive
Collision coverage pays for damage to your car after an accident that you cause. Comprehensive insurance pays to replace stolen cars and for damages from vandalism, flooding, hail, fire and animal strikes. If your car is:
less than 10 years old, you should strongly consider buying collision and comprehensive.
more than 10 years old, only buy collision and comprehensive if your car is worth $3,000 or more, if you couldn’t afford to replace your car if it’s wrecked, or if you just want more protection on your policy.
North Carolina requires uninsured motorist coverage, and it should match the liability limits you choose. Underinsured motorist coverage is required to be offered by car insurance companies, but you may decline if you carry minimum liability limits.
Medical coverage (MedPay)
Medical payments coverage can help pay for the medical or funeral expenses of covered drivers and passengers after an accident, regardless of fault, up to $25,000. In most states, including North Carolina, it's an optional addition to your car insurance policy. MedPay does the following:
Covers you and your passengers’ medical expenses
Pays for expenses after health insurance limits are exceeded
Offers additional protection to insured drivers who are hit by a car while walking or biking
If you and your passengers:
Don’t have health insurance, or have a plan that doesn’t cover car accidents or has low limits, we recommend that you add medical coverage of at least $5,000 to your car insurance policy.
Do have health insurance, it’s still a good idea to have medical coverage if you want the best protection in your policy, as it can pay out after your health benefits are maxed out.
If you don’t own your car outright and have an accident, gap insurance pays the difference between the cash value of your car and the current outstanding balance on your loan or lease.
If you’re financing your car, your car is less than one year old and you’ve put less than 20 percent down on it, you should buy gap insurance. If not, you don’t need gap insurance.
If you’re leasing your car, it’s a good idea to buy gap insurance if you aren’t already required to in your lease agreement.
If you own your car outright, you don’t need gap insurance.
Car insurance companies in North Carolina
Direct premiums written
Market share %
Customer Review Ranking
State Farm Group
Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group
North Carolina FB Insurance Grp
Allstate Insurance Group
National General Companies
Progressive Insurance Group
Erie Insurance Group
Liberty Mutual Insurance Companies
Source: A.M. Best market share rankings are based on direct premiums written in 2015.
Customer review rankings based on Insure.com's "Best Insurance Companies" survey.
2% — percentage of annual median household income spent on car insurance
9% — percentage of uninsured drivers on the road
12.9 — traffic-related deaths per 100,000 population
45% — percent of roads in poor or mediocre condition
North Carolina car insurance laws
Contributory negligence: North Carolina has a contributory negligence provision in its torts law; a driver cannot recover damages if found at fault in an accident by even a small percentage. More than in most states, North Carolina residents should carefully consider how easily they might afford to replace a car before dropping collision coverage, which would pay for repairs no matter who is at fault.
DL-123 form for proof of insurance: North Carolina requires drivers to demonstrate that they have a liability insurance policy by filing a DL-123 form. Liability insurance is the minimum amount of auto insurance you must have to drive in the state of North Carolina.
North Carolina law requires that a DL-123 form be filled out and signed by your car insurance company before you can receive your license and sometimes for other reasons, such as after a reinstatement of a license after a DUI suspension. Certification of liability insurance coverage must be submitted to the DMV and it must be from an insurance company licensed to do business in North Carolina.
Safe driver incentive plan (SDIP): North Carolina has a set list of SDIP points that auto insurance companies must assign drivers who are convicted of moving traffic violations or at-fault accidents. The more insurance points you have, the more you'll pay in surcharges. The points range from one to 12, with one point equaling a surcharge of 30 percent and a driver with 12 points receiving a 340% increase in rates. Read more about the North Carolina SDIP points table on the state's Department of Insurance site.
How long to settle a claim?: Car insurance companies in North Carolina have 30 days after receiving a claim to acknowledge it by either: making payment on the claim, making a settlement offer, denying the claim, or informing the claimant that there is an ongoing investigation of the claim. Loss and claim payments by auto insurers are to be mailed within 10 business days after the claim is settled.
Prayer for Judgment: Unique to North Carolina law, prayer for judgment allows a person to plea neither innocence nor guilt to a judge. As it relates to driving, this means drivers may avoid having a citation affect their driving record, assuming they aren't cited for the same offense in a five-year period. Read more on our prayer for judgment page.
Uninsured motorist penalties in North Carolina: You may have to pay up to $1,000 in fines, your license and registration may be suspended and your plates confiscated if you are ticketed for driving without insurance in North Carolina. You may also end up with 3 points on your driver's license. Penalties for an insurance lapse in North Carolina are not quite as harsh.
No grace period: North Carolina does not have a grace period for cancelled insurance policies.