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North Carolina Car Insurance

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North Carolina-largeCar 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 car insurance rates, what coverage options are right for you, and how car insurance laws in North Carolina affect you.

The average car insurance rate in North Carolina is $960 a year. 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 28307, the highest rate among six carriers is ($1,629) is twice as much as the lowest ($802).

Cheap car insurance in North Carolina

North Carolina car insurance requirements

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 $500 deductible costs, on average, $613 more, or $51 a month.

*The table shows the average annual rate of nearly every ZIP code in North Carolina from up to six major insurance companies. Rates are for a male driver, age 40, with a clean record and good credit for a 2016 Honda Accord. 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.

AGE
STATE
VEHICLE MODEL YEAR
OWN RENT
OWNED FINANCED LEASED

Liability

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.

Comprehensive costs an average of $116 yearly for drivers in North Carolina, based on CarInsurance.com rate data. For collision it's $416. If you buy comp and collision, check our guide to choosing a deductible amount.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist

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.

Gap insurance

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.

Cheapest car insurance in North Carolina by company

Below you'll see average annual rates for North Carolina, ranked cheapest to most expensive, for three coverage levels:

  • State minimum liability requirements
  • Liability limits of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident and $50,000 property damage
  • Liability of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident and $100,000 property damage, with comprehensive and collision at $500 deductible

Low cost auto insurance for North Carolina drivers with recent accidents

Filing an accident claim means you are likely to pay more for your car insurance coverage. However, how much more you pay depends on several factors, and your car insurance company plays is one of those significant factors. Each company assesses risk differently, so that's why the increase after an accident will vary among insurers. Here is how major carriers compare after at-fault accidents for the average North Carolina driver with a full coverage policy:

Who has the cheapest car insurance for drivers in North Carolina with speeding tickets?

If you get a speeding ticket, chances are you'll see an increase in what you pay for car insurance, upon your policy renewal. Typically, you'll pay more for three years. But even with a traffic ticket, comparison shopping can save you money. For instance, you'll see that the difference between the highest rate and the lowest in the table below is about $600, on average, according to CarInsurance.com's rate analysis. That's how much you can save by comparing car insurance companies.

How much does it cost to add a teen to your policy in North Carolina?

No matter where you live, adding a new driver to your family policy will hike your rate significantly. In North Carolina, you can expect your rate to go up by an average of 123 percent when adding a driver age 16 to your coverage, according to CarInsurance.com rate data. You'll see in the table below how much it costs, on average, to add a teen driver in North Carolina, and how major insurers compare on price. State Farm had the lowest auto insurance cost for adding a driver age 16 to a full coverage family policy, among insurers surveyed.

Cheapest North Carolina auto insurance for young drivers: Ages 18 to 25

You’ll see in the chart below which car insurance companies have the lowest rates for young drivers buying a full coverage policy. Average car insurance rates by age data shows that drivers typically pay higher rates until age 26, when rates begin to drop as drivers gain more experience on the road. But even young drivers can save money by comparing car insurance rates to see which company has the lowest rates, by qualifying for student discounts and by staying on their parents’ policy as long as possible.

Senior drivers: Cheap auto insurance for North Carolina drivers age 65 to 85

Below you can see average rates by company, and how they compare, for drivers age 65 and over, buying a full coverage policy.

North Carolina drivers with bad credit: You can still save on car insurance

Car insurance for drivers with bad credit costs significantly more than it does for those with good credit. North Carolina is not among the worst states for drivers with bad credit, as CarInsurance.com's data analysis shows it has the lowest  percentage increase for bad credit drivers. Still, drivers in North Carolina with bad credit will still pay more than those with good credit.  Compared to good credit drivers, those in North Carolina with bad credit pay 13 percent more, on average. The good news is that you can still shave some money off your coverage costs if you compare car insurance companies. You'll see below that the difference among major insurers is nearly $450 for a full coverage policy for a driver with bad credit. That's how much you can potentially save by comparing car insurance quotes.

Best car insurance companies in North Carolina

Scores are based on Insure.com’s “Best Insurance Companies” customer review survey of 3,700 customers. Policyholders ranked insurers on claims handling, customer service, value, mobile apps/website usefulness and were asked if they would renew their coverage and if they would recommend the company. All scores are out of 100.

 

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Largest car insurance companies by market share for North Carolina

Source: A.M. Best; State/Line (P/C Lines)  - P/C, US; Data as of:November 28, 2018

North Carolina car insurance laws

North Carolina roads with the most fatal accidents

 Here are the highways and roads where the most fatal accidents happened in 2017, according to the most recent data available from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System research compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

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 percent increase in rates.

North Carolina is the only state that assigns the "insurance points" instead of the insurer doing so. That means drivers in North Carolina can view how points are assigned online, compared to other states where you would have to request a surcharge schedule from your insurance company.

Review 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.

Strict speeding laws: North Carolina has severe speeding penalties compared to other states. If cited for driving 15 mph over the 55 mph speed limit, your license is suspended for 30 days. A second offense in 12 months gets you a 60-day suspension.  

No grace period: North Carolina does not have a grace period for cancelled insurance policies.

Average annual car insurance rates for major cities in North Carolina

Below you'll see how average annual rates for several of the largest cities in the state compare to state and national averages. Rates are for coverage of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident in liability and $50,000 of property damage coverage, with comprehensive and collision carrying a $500 deductible.

Show Tablular Data

STATE CAR INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

You must have insurance to drive legally in North Carolina. State laws require liability insurance with limits of:

30 / 60 / 25

Bodily injury liability limits of $30,000 per person you injure in an accident and $60,000 per accident, and property damage liability of $25,000. In addition, North Carolina requires uninsured/underinsured motorist with:

30 / 60 / 25

Click here for an explanation of liability requirements numbers

HOW MUCH IS CAR INSURANCE IN NORTH CAROLINA? The average car insurance rate in North Carolina
$960 per year
4th least expensive state in the U.S.
"Tort" Insurance Law
North Carolina has a tort system, which means that following a car insurance claim, someone is found at fault for the accident, even if fault is determined to be 50/50.
DRIVING IN NORTH CAROLINA
In our independent study of the best and worst states for driving, North Carolina was the
10TH BEST STATE
2% of the average annual median household income is spent on car insurance
9% of drivers on the roads are uninsured
12.9 traffic-related deaths per 100,000 population
45% percent of roads are in poor or mediocre condition

Full report: Best and worst states for driving