Last updated: August 2023
In North Carolina, there are beautiful views to enjoy everywhere you look, from the Great Smoky Mountains all the way to the Outer Banks. But before you take off on your next adventure, make sure you and your car are protected with affordable auto insurance that meets all your needs and desires.
Direct Auto Insurance is proud to offer car insurance in North Carolina, the “Tar Heel State.” In this guide, we’re teaching you which coverages are mandatory, which ones are optional, and how Direct Auto can help you find cheap North Carolina car insurance. Get a free quote to see how much money you can save with Direct.
North Carolina Car Insurance Laws
Do you have to have car insurance in North Carolina?
North Carolina law requires all drivers to maintain continuous liability insurance for any vehicle they have registered in the state. North Carolina auto insurance policies must at least meet the minimum liability coverage limits, typically expressed as three numbers representing thousands of dollars. For example, the liability limits in North Carolina are 30/60/25, as shown below under North Carolina Minimum Car Insurance Requirements.
North Carolina also requires drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) at the same minimum limits as liability coverage.
North Carolina Minimum Car Insurance Requirements
Wondering what your insurance policy needs to make sure you fulfill North Carolina’s insurance requirements? Here’s a quick breakdown by coverage type.
Is It Required by Law?
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage provides financial protection if you cause an accident that injures another person. It helps pay for their medical expenses and your legal services (if necessary).
Yes. $30,000 bodily injury per person/$60,000 bodily injury per accident.
Property Damage Liability Coverage helps pay to repair or replace other people’s property that is damaged in an accident you cause. It typically involves damage to another vehicle, but it could help pay to repair a house, fence, mailbox, and more.
Yes. $25,000 property damage per accident.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) helps pay for your medical bills and related expenses if the other driver has no coverage (UM), insufficient coverage (UIM), or can’t be identified due to hit and run. In some states, UM/UIM can also help pay for property damage.
Yes. $30,000 UM/UIM bodily injury per person. $60,000 UM/UIM bodily injury per accident. $25,000 UM/UIM property damage per accident.
Medical Payments Coverage helps pay for your medical and related expenses stemming from an accident, regardless of fault.
Collision Coverage helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle if you collide with another car, tree, guardrail, or another object, regardless of fault.
Comprehensive Coverage helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged by something other than a collision, like fire, floodwaters, falling branches, vandalism, or contact with an animal.
IMPORTANT NOTE: While meeting liability limits and purchasing UM/UIM coverage ensures you follow North Carolina insurance laws, it doesn’t necessarily protect you and your vehicle in every circumstance. You would need to add additional coverage, like comprehensive and collision, to protect yourself and your vehicle more fully.
1Your lender may require these coverages if you lease or finance your vehicle.
Are there additional coverage options?
For added peace of mind, Direct Auto offers add-on services and other insurance products for North Carolina drivers:
- Roadside Assistance*
- Emergency Protection Plan (EPP)*
- Towing & Labor Coverage
- Rental Reimbursement Coverage
North Carolina Proof of Financial Responsibility and Penalties
What if I don't meet North Carolina’s minimum car insurance requirements?
Thinking about getting behind the wheel without insurance in North Carolina? Think again! The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles 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.
So, what’s the best thing you can do? Make sure you always meet the state minimum requirements, making sure to avoid any lapses or gaps in coverage.
Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License in North Carolina
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, according to DrivingLaws.org. 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.
SR-22 Insurance in North Carolina
In many states, high-risk drivers are also required to keep an SR22 (also known as a certificate of financial responsibility) on file with the state verifying they have purchased auto insurance coverage that satisfies the state’s minimum coverage requirements. Drivers might be required to fulfill SR-22 requirements if:
- They have been caught not maintaining proper liability coverage.
- They were convicted of a DUI/DWI.
- They have committed other serious driving violations.
However, North Carolina doesn’t ask drivers to meet SR-22 requirements. The Tar Heel state uses a form called DL-123. Like an SR22 or similar, this form verifies you have at least the minimum amount of car insurance required. It is required for people in these scenarios.
- Someone applying for a driver's license for the first time in North Carolina. This includes teen drivers who are getting licensed for the first time (but not those getting a learner's permit) and motorists who have moved to North Carolina and are seeking a license.
- Someone seeking to restore their suspended or revoked driver’s license following a DWI or DUI conviction.
- Someone complying with a court order to demonstrate that he or she has liability coverage for a vehicle.
It is worth noting that you may be required to file an SR22 or FR44 if you move from North Carolina to a new state after a DUI/DWI, serious driving violation, or coverage lapse.
High-Risk Auto Insurance in North Carolina
Most individuals don’t have a spotless driving record, and after a handful of violations or a serious enough violation, drivers can be considered a major risk to insure. While some companies try to steer clear of these individuals, other insurance companies offer non-standard insurance (another name for high-risk auto insurance) to provide financial protection for these drivers.
At Direct Auto, we're proud to offer non-standard coverage to North Carolina drivers. We believe your driving history shouldn't define you forever, and we work hard to help you get quality, affordable coverage, regardless of your past.
Where can I find the cheapest car insurance rates in North Carolina?
Car insurance costs vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- The amount & type of coverage you choose
- The year, make, and model of the vehicle you drive
- How much you drive, where you drive, and where you live
- Your demographics
- Your driving record
- Your credit history
The good news is that Direct Auto Insurance can help drivers, even those with a less-than-perfect driving record, find car insurance coverage.
Get a free car insurance quote online, or work with a Direct Auto agent to create a coverage plan that not only meets your state's requirements but fits your needs as well. We’ll work hard to make sure you get any discounts you’re entitled to receive so your premium is the lowest price possible.
Other North Carolina Auto Insurance Resources
- North Carolina DMV
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- North Carolina Department of Insurance
Find Cheap Car Insurance in North Carolina with Direct Auto!
Visit us online, give us a call, or visit a nearby location to get a North Carolina car insurance quote from Direct Auto! We always offer affordable coverage options, and we work hard to get you cheap car insurance in North Carolina so you can keep driving to exciting new adventures.
*Emergency Protection Plans (EPP) and Roadside Assistance are not insurance and are administered through Nation Safe Drivers, Boca Raton, FL. Not all benefits available in all states.