From Asheville to Cape Hatteras, Greensboro to Fayetteville, Wilmington to Raleigh, North Carolina has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from downtown Charlotte to the Appalachians, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Great Smoky Range. They’re used by over 6.5 million licensed drivers, who each put in an average of over 10,700 miles a year. Along the way, those drivers are involved in thousands of traffic accidents every year, including many that result in serious injury or death. Wherever you live and drive in the Tar Heel State, carrying adequate car insurance is both a legal requirement and commonsense protection. This is your guide to North Carolina’s basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
North Carolina state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties that may include monetary fines and jail time. Under North Carolina’s tort system, you may also be liable for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damages (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering.
The bare minimum car insurance requirement for North Carolina drivers is:
$30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
North Carolina does not require you to carry additional coverage such as personal liability insurance or Collision and Comprehensive. However, If you own property or other valuable assets, supplementing the minimum requirements can help you protect yourself from monetary loss.
Penalties for Failure to Carry North Carolina Auto Insurance
You are required by law to carry proof of North Carolina car insurance in your car and show it if a law enforcement officer asks to see it. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties. The first offense typically carries a $50 fine, which must be paid within 10 days to avoid having your license suspended. Fail to comply and your license will be suspended for 30 days and you will be charged an addition $50 restoration fee, a $50 service fee and a license plate fee.
North Carolina Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Insurance companies are allowed to charge premiums and award discounts based on a number of factors that can include:
The type of car you are insuring
Prior auto insurance coverage
How much you drive
Your driving record
Your marital status
Your geographic location
How long you’ve been driving
Whether or not you use your car for business
North Carolina also allows insurers to consider your credit rating to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest North Carolina Car Insurance Policy
You may be able to lower the cost of your premiums in the following ways:
Ask about available discounts for good driving habits, anti-theft devices, multiple cars on one policy, bundling your car insurance with your homeowners or renters policy, automatic or online payments and driving a hybrid or electric car
Compare quotes from a variety of providers on this website
Eliminate unnecessary coverage
Check to see if you qualify for any low-cost auto insurance program your state may offer
New North Carolina Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in North Carolina. The following laws have recently been enacted in North Carolina and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
There is a ban on texting for all North Carolina drivers.
There is a ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers.
Effective December 2013, the fine for illegally passing a stopped school bus increased to $500. Under certain circumstances, the offending driver can lose his or her driver’s license.
Effective 2012, North Carolina’s move-over law has been extended to utility and maintenance crews working on the roads.