North Carolina Car Insurance Guide

Before you start driving on North Carolina's beautiful roads (like the Blue Ridge Parkway), i's worth double-checking your insurance coverage. Are you meeting state requirements? Do you have the right coverage for your specific needs? With so many different options to know, finding insurance in North Carolina can seem daunting. To make matters easier, we've created this guide to give you the details you need to know about insurance and make sure you're covered from the Great Smoky Mountains all the way to the Outer Banks. So, sit back and study up on state minimum requirements, insurance terminology, motorcycle rules, and more!

Personal Auto Insurance

Even if you drive as safely as possible, you can never guarantee you won't be in an accident due to the unpredictability of other drivers and external factors out of your control. When accidents do happen, an auto insurance policy can be your saving grace. This contract between you and your insurance company provides financial protection whether you're involved in the most minor fender bender or a major, multi-car pileup. You agree to pay a premium, and your insurance company agrees to pay for any losses as stated in your specific policy.

North Carolina law requires all registered vehicles to meet minimum liability requirements (both bodily injury liability and property damage liability) and carry coverage for uninsured motorists.

North Carolina Driving Laws

When it comes to driving laws, always be prepared to keep learning. The rules of the road change. Insurance requirements can fluctuate. In other words, if you don’t check for updates from time to time, you could be breaking the law, or missing out on things that benefit you, without ever realizing it!

For example, it’s currently illegal in North Carolina to text while driving, but drivers over the age of 18 are still allowed to use a mobile phone to make calls. However, there has been a recent legislation push to go hands free, meaning the law could change soon. Following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, Governor Cooper temporarily waived road tests for young drivers looking to get their license.

Consider running a quick search or call your agent on occasion to make sure your insurance coverage is sufficient and that you’re following the latest driving laws because the legal landscape is always shifting.

North Carolina Minimum Insurance Requirements

North Carolina insurance law requires drivers to hold continuous liability coverage and carry coverage for uninsured motorists. The minimum requirements are as follows:

  • $30,000 of bodily injury liability (one person) & $60,000 of bodily injury liability (two or more people)
  • $25,000 of property damage liability
  • $30,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability & $60,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability (two or more people)
  • $25,000 of uninsured motorist property damage liability

With roughly 6.5% of North Carolina drivers uninsured as of 2015 (according to the Insurance Information Institute), and approximately 13% of drivers uninsured nationwide, North Carolina is protecting drivers from people who don’t meet insurance requirements.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in North Carolina

Thinking about getting behind the wheel without insurance in North Carolina? Think again! The North Carolina Department of Transportation notes that liability laws are “strictly enforced” and that insurance companies must “notify the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles if liability insurance on a vehicle is canceled or coverage lapses for any reason.”

If you fail to respond to the DMV’s termination notification, within 10 days, you may see your vehicle's license plate revoked and be forced to deal with civil penalties, fees, interest, and collections. What happens if you’re caught behind the wheel without insurance? Well, nothing good, according to the Consumer Federation of America. You'll be subject to fees, suspended registration, and possible probation or imprisonment.

The best thing you can do? Make sure you meet the state minimum requirements at all times, making sure to avoid any lapses or gaps in coverage.

Penalties for Driving Without a License in North Carolina

Like most states, North Carolina prohibits people from operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, and according to, the penalties for failing to comply are quite serious. Driving without a valid license is a class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina, resulting in a fine as high $200 and up to 20 days in jail depending on the driver's criminal history.

What about a driver who simply doesn't have their license at the time they're stopped: Well, they can present proof of a valid license in court to avoid an unwarranted conviction. But to avoid any unnecessary hassle, always make sure you have your license before driving anywhere.

What about people whose license is suspended or revoked: If you drive with a suspended license, you'll be subject to a class 3 misdemeanor, a fine of up to $200, and up to 20 days in jail. If you commit a moving violation while your license is suspended, the Division of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for a similar duration. A moving violation while your license is revoked could lead to longer revocations, or, in the case of a third offense, a permanent revocation.

What if you're caught driving after having your license suspended for a DWI:

If you're driving while your license is suspended on a DWI charge, you're guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, meaning a conviction can result of up to 120 days in jail, alcohol monitoring, a fine determined by the judge, and a longer period of license suspension.

What if you drive under the influence while your license is suspended: You'll be subject to the penalties listed above for driving with a suspended license, face DWI charges, and possibly have your vehicle seized.

Common Car Insurance Terms & Definitions

When you're evaluating policy options, you might come across unfamiliar words or phrases. The world of auto insurance can be tricky, and we want to clear up any confusion. Check out this glossary of terms, and learn about a few of the main terms to know by clicking on the words below:

Non-Standard Car Insurance

Whether you’ve been driving for a short period or a long time, you've probably come to realize that perfect driving records are rare, and, unfortunately, some insurance companies write people off when they've determined that the driver in question has too many traffic violations, bad credit, or a DUI conviction. But, some companies, like Direct Auto, believe that you should be able to find affordable coverage, regardless of your past. These companies often offer non-standard (or high risk) insurance, a cost-friendly alternative with coverage you can count on. So if your driving record isn't perfect, don't feel dismayed. You can still find quality coverage!

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in North Carolina

In North Carolina, uninsured motorist coverage is a requirement by law. This coverage will provide financial protection should you end up with costly expenses in a crash caused by an uninsured driver, a driver who is not able to be identified (hit and run), or a driver who doesn't have a policy robust enough to cover your claim.

Factors that Influence Insurance Rates

Your insurance rate is influenced by a number of ever-evolving factors, including:

  • The types of coverage you choose and the amount of coverage you choose
  • The make and model of the vehicle you drive
  • How much you drive and the places you drive
  • Your driving record
  • Your credit history

Even if your driving history or credit history isn’t what you want it to be, at Direct Auto, we can work with you to find an affordable policy that works well for you. We also offer various payment options, a long list of discounts, and more. If there's a way you can save money, we'll help you find it!

North Carolina Motorcycle Insurance Laws

The minimum liability insurance requirements and amounts for motorcycle owners are the same as they are for those who operate a car or truck:

  • $30,000 of bodily injury liability (one person) & $60,000 of bodily injury liability (two or more people)
  • $25,000 of property damage liability
  • $30,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability & $60,000 of uninsured motorist bodily injury liability (two or more people)
  • $25,000 of uninsured motorist property damage liability

More Information

Still have a question about auto insurance coverage in North Carolina? We'd be happy to help! Give us a call, visit us online, or stop by one of our convenient locations.

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