Car Insurance Done the SMARTWAY™

North Carolina has such diverse landscapes, from glistening city skylines to country stretches to majestic mountains; its elevation even spans from sea level to the highest point in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River (Mount Mitchell). There’s no question this southern state offers an abundance of charm for residents and visitors of all interests.

As an added bonus, North Carolina residents also enjoy some of the lowest average auto insurance prices in the country. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t pay to shop around for the best rates, though; comparing quotes can save you 10, 20, even as much as 40% on your monthly premium. And we have just the carrier-neutral information to help you do it!

OK, let’s do it!

North Carolina Auto Insurance Rates

Whether you’re purchasing your first policy or looking for a better deal for your dollar, it’s crucial to get coverage that makes sense for your lifestyle. How do you know which North Carolina auto insurance companies offer the best coverage at the best price? Getting quotes from numerous insurers is a good start. To help, we’ve listed the top insurance companies for North Carolina below (see the full list).

  1. Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee
  2. Alfa Insurance
  3. KY Farm Bureau

Your driving history has the largest impact on your insurance rates, but your location, vehicle type, claims record, age, gender, and other factors also contribute to your premium.

Choose your city from the list below to compare car insurance rates in your area. Don’t see your location? No problem—just click here instead.

 

Legalities 101

There’s no getting around the law: you have to carry car insurance. While it may seem like a drag, should you ever suffer the misfortune of getting into an accident, you’ll be grateful for the financial protections. Car insurance is an investment that really comes through for you if you need your vehicle repaired, medical attention, or time off of work due to an accident. Hopefully it never comes to that, and even though you’re undoubtedly a great driver, there are lots of other motorists and circumstances on the road beyond your control.

North Carolina Driving Safety

In 2015, the overall number of traffic accidents and traffic fatalities increased in the state. More than 30% of crashes were related to speeding and 21% involved a distracted driver. The state also has a high number of accidents involving teens, impaired drivers, and improper use of child restraint systems.

Let’s look at some important North Carolina safety statistics below.

North Carolina Driving Safety Stats

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251,638
Reported traffic crashes in 2015
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1,380
Persons killed in traffic collisions
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11,487
Alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2015

Driving Green

Motor vehicles account for roughly half of all greenhouse emissions in North Carolina and as much as 70% in urban areas of the state. By choosing a green car and reducing the amount of fuel you use, you’re greatly improving air quality for all state residents.

In addition to federal tax credits and insurance discounts for fuel-efficient vehicles, like hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, diesels, and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), North Carolina’s eco-conscious drivers may be eligible for a variety of other incentives for going green.

  • Emissions Test Exemptions for Electric Cars

    Although they must undergo annual safety inspections as part of North Carolina vehicle registration, the state exempts electric vehicles from the on-board diagnostic emissions test. However, hybrids and other vehicles capable of running on gasoline must undergo emissions testing in addition to the standard safety inspection.

  • High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane Access

    Some AFVs are permitted to use the state’s high occupancy vehicle lanes, no matter how many passengers are in the car. This applies to plug-in electric vehicles, dedicated natural gas vehicles, and fuel-cell electric vehicles. This allowance comes with one condition, however: the vehicles must be capable of traveling the posted speed limit while in the HOV lane.

  • Diesel Emission Reduction Grants and Rebates

    If your project reduces diesel emissions, you may be eligible for funding through North Carolina’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ). The DAQ also offers an Idle Reduction Devices Rebate Program to NC-based individuals and businesses. This rebate provides up to $2,500 for buying and installing an auxiliary power unit or other idle-reduction device on a sleeper berth truck. These grants are not always available though, so check yearly.

Car Insurance Laws

Being a Minimalist

Before you begin requesting quotes from different carriers, it’s important to know the minimum insurance requirements for your state. North Carolina drivers are required to carry a minimum of $30,000 bodily injury for each person and $60,000 total bodily injury for all persons injured in a single accident. Motorists must also continuously maintain $25,000 in property damage liability coverage.

Additionally, the state requires all licensed drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on their policies in an amount that is equal to or greater than the highest bodily injury limit liability on the policy.

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$ 30,000
Bodily injury coverage per person

Maximum payment for serious or permanent injury or death to a single person

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$ 60,000
Bodily injury coverage per accident

Payment per person per accident for out of pocket costs due to injury

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$ 25,000
Property damage per accident

Maximum payment for all damaged property in an accident caused by you

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

Even though collision and comprehensive aren’t mandatory, most lenders require this level of insurance. These optional coverages help protect against things like fire, windstorms, glass breakage, flood, earthquakes, hail, and contact with animals. Even though not required by law, adding these optional coverages can significantly increase your premiums. Consider this when purchasing a new automobile.

Optional coverage in North Carolina

  • Automobile Death Indemnity
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Customized Parts and Equipment
  • Loan/Lease Gap
  • Med Pay
  • Miscellaneous Type Vehicle Endorsement
  • Rental Car
  • Roadside Assistance/Towing
  • Specific Disability and Total Disability Benefits Coverage
  • Travel Expenses

Optional coverages provide extra peace of mind and financial protection, but they are not required by law. Some exclusions will apply.

For some smart buying tips, take a look at our post 10 Things to Consider When Shopping for a New Auto Insurance Policy.

North Carolina car insurance companies

Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee
Alfa Insurance
KY Farm Bureau
Auto-Owners Insurance
GEICO
NC Farm Bureau
State Farm
Nationwide
Allstate
National General
Progressive
MetLife
Liberty Mutual
Travelers
Safeco

*This list of insurance companies is based on the ratings for the Southeast U.S. Region in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Ratings are derived from five key service areas: claims, price, interaction, policy offerings, and billing. USAA is a military-only option and is therefore not including in the above rankings.

Car Safety for North Carolina Kids

North Carolina Car Seat Regulations

As per the North Carolina Child Passenger Safety Law, all kids under age 16 must be secured in an age, height, and weight-appropriate restraint system, whether it’s a car seat, booster seat, or the vehicle’s built-in seat belts. Minors of at least 16 years and adults are covered under the North Carolina Seat Belt Law.

If the vehicle has both a back seat and a passenger-side front airbag, children younger than 5 years and weighing less than 40 pounds must be seated in the rear of the automobile. This is to protect them from injuries associated with airbag deployment.

Children under 8 years old and 80 pounds need to be in a car or booster seat for their weight that meets Federal Safety Standards. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and safe use, and never use a seat with a weight limit under your child’s weight.

Booster seats may not be used with only a lap belt; a lap and shoulder belt must be engaged. Once a child reaches the age of 8 or 80 pounds, he or she may switch to using the vehicle’s seat belt system.

Leaving Children Unattended in a Vehicle

You may be charged with child abuse or neglect if you leave a young child unattended in a motor vehicle in North Carolina and there’s evidence that the child was subjected to physical harm or to a risk of physical injury. This may include leaving a child unattended in a vehicle on a hot day or in an unsafe location.

A young child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times more quickly than an adult’s body, and just a few minutes of exposure to high temperatures can be fatal. Temperatures in a parked car on a sunny day can reach 120 degrees within minutes, potentially leading to brain damage or death. Never ever leave a young child (or a pet) alone in a car.

If you see an unattended child, you’re encouraged to call 911 and report the location, make, model, and license number of the vehicle. Stay with the vehicle until help arrives.

Car Insurance FAQ

Is my credit score a factor when obtaining car insurance in North Carolina?

Yes, insurers can use your credit history to calculate your credit-based insurance score. Insurance companies believe there’s a strong link between those with low credit scores and the potential for filing claims.

Does North Carolina offer a good-driver discount?

If you qualify, good-driver discounts can substantially reduce your rates. These discounts typically require at least three years of safe driving. Your North Carolina insurance company may offer other discounts to keep your insurance premiums low, such as:

  • Alternative Fuel / Hybrid Car Discount
  • Anti-Lock Brake Discount
  • Anti-Theft Discount
  • Accident Free Discount
  • Continuous Car Insurance Discount
  • Driver Education Course
  • Good Student Discount
  • Electronic Funds Transfer
  • Electronic Stability Control Discount
  • Home Ownership
  • Mature Driver
  • Multi-Car
  • Multi-line Policy Discount (Home and Auto on the Same Policy)
  • New Car Discount
  • Organization or Club Membership Discount
  • Passive Restraint
  • Vehicle Safety

Does North Carolina allow the use of digital insurance cards?

Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of the few remaining states that has not authorized the use of digital proof of car insurance on cell phones or other mobile devices. Make sure you have your printed ID cards in the glove box.

What happens if my coverage lapses?

Whether your insurance lapses because it’s canceled or not renewed, your insurance company will notify the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. Failure to maintain adequate insurance coverage in North Carolina can result in civil and other penalties. The state DMV will tell you what you need to do to reinstate your insurance.

What are North Carolina’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentage limits under the state's driving under the influence (DUI) laws?

It’s illegal to drive in North Carolina with the following BAC percentages:

.08%+ at 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.04%+ for prior DWI

Drivers under the age of 21 cannot drive with any amount of alcohol or illegally used drugs in their systems, no matter how small the amount. Any BAC level will result in a 30-day pretrial license revocation, and just the smell of alcohol on the breath is enough for a conviction of driving under the influence.

What are the chemical test refusal penalties in North Carolina?

If you’re stopped by a law enforcement officer in North Carolina for suspicion of driving while impaired, you’ll be required to submit to a breath or blood test, or both. The results of this test can be used in court. If you refuse the test, your license will be immediately revoked for 30 days and an additional one-year revocation will be imposed after you’ve had the chance to attend a hearing. Even if you’re found not guilty of DWI in court, the one-year revocation will stand for refusing the test.

What are the consequences of being convicted of a DUI?

Penalties for driving while impaired in North Carolina vary greatly. There are five levels of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated (DWI), with Level 1 being the most serious and Level 5 being the least serious. Level 1 and 2 drivers are repeat offenders, are transporting children, have had their license revoked, or have hurt someone in a crash. Punishments range from $200 fines and community service to $4,000 in fines and a maximum jail sentence of two years. Habitual DWI offenders can be charged with and convicted of a felony.

Does North Carolina offer driver improvement courses to reduce my insurance premium?

Just like a good driving record can earn car insurance discounts for North Carolina motorists, so too can completion of one of the state’s Driver Improvement Clinics. Check with your carrier to find out if they offer this benefit; most, but not all, do.

Is there any way I can reduce the cost of my North Carolina car insurance?

Yes! If your premium has been a financial burden, you have options. Start by shopping around for better rates on the coverage you need. When you’ve found the best deal, ask your representative about all discounts you may be eligible for. Also, consider paying upfront instead of monthly for a lower total cost, and opt for a higher deductible in exchange for a lower premium. On an ongoing basis, take care of your credit, as it can have a big impact on your rates.

What is uninsured motorist coverage and is it required in North Carolina?

Yes, North Carolina requires policies with the minimum bodily injury and property damage limits to include uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage helps protect you in the event you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

9%
Uninsured drivers in North Carolina
12%
Uninsured drivers Nationwide

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