The Best Cheap Car Insurance in North Carolina for 2021

Car insurance rates vary from one state to the next across the United States. In every state, insurance companies evaluate and compute insurance premiums based on a driver’s age, location, car make and driving history, among others. MoneyGeek makes it easy for car owners to find the best car insurance in North Carolina by ranking the best and most affordable insurers. Make sure to get multiple quotes so you can compare them and get the best deal based on your needs. MoneyGeek's rankings highlight a potential savings of $484 when comparing car insurance quotes from top-rated companies in North Carolina.

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Minimum liability-only coverage is generally less expensive than full coverage, as it does not offer comprehensive and collision coverage. This policy is cheaper because it presents low liability coverage limits that only meet North Carolina’s minimum car insurance requirements.

The most affordable car insurance companies in North Carolina for minimum coverage are:

  • Nationwide: $301 per year
  • State Farm: $357 per year

MetLife offers the costliest car insurance for minimum coverage in this state, with average annual rates of $559.

Average Cost for Minimun Liability Coverage
  • Company
    Annually
    Monthly
  • 1.
    $301
    $25
  • 2.
    $357
    $30
  • 3.
    $383
    $32
  • 4.
    North Carolina Farm Bureau
    $390
    $33
  • 5.
    $427
    $36
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Please keep in mind that these prices are only averages and should serve as a guide for comparing rates between insurers.

These prices are only estimates based on rates for an average North Carolina driver and should not be used to compare insurance prices.

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A minimum coverage policy in North Carolina is the cheapest available but only covers bodily injury and property damage liability insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Drivers looking to insure damages to their own car, or enhance their shield against higher liability costs, should purchase a full coverage policy.

A full coverage policy is more expensive than minimum coverage, but it safeguards against the cost of damages to your car, not just others’ vehicles. This package offers higher liability limits and comprehensive and collision insurance, which can protect you against most road accidents and off-road incidents in North Carolina. It’s wise to compare car insurance quotes from multiple providers so you can find the lowest prices.

The cheapest car insurance companies in North Carolina for full coverage are:

  • Nationwide: $600 per year
  • State Farm: $650 per year

The most expensive car insurance for full coverage is Progressive, costing $1,084 per year on average.

Average Comprehensive and Collision Rates in North Carolina

Please note that your individual premiums will vary from these examples. The costs are for a plan with comprehensive and collision insurance, $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $300,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident and $100,000 in property damage coverage per accident.

The Best Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina for 2021

MoneyGeek’s study indicates that the best car insurance companies in North Carolina for most drivers are:

  • Best Overall: Erie
  • Runner-up: Auto-owners

USAA received the highest score in North Carolina by MoneyGeek's rating system. However, because USAA is only available to military members, veterans and their families, it is not listed as best overall.

MoneyGeek’s ranking of the best car insurance companies in North Carolina focuses on unique pricing data and information from reputable agencies. MoneyGeek included the industry standards for car insurance ratings and reviews from J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction and affordability data and AM Best’s financial strength rating.

After considering data from these groups, MoneyGeek gave each company a final rating out of 100 to give drivers a ranking of the best car insurance companies based mainly on customer satisfaction, affordability and insurance reliability.


1
USAA
Score:95

4/5

Affordability

5/5

Claims Ratings

4/5

User Satisfaction

A++

Financial Stability

Geek Quick Take
Geek Quick Take

USAA provides services only to current and former military personnel and their families. It earned impressive scores in all three criteria of customer satisfaction, affordability and claims performance.

More About USAA

MoneyGeek rates USAA as the best and cheapest auto insurance company in most states, including North Carolina. This carrier offers a discount to active military members who garage their vehicles on base. You can qualify for a loyalty discount if your parents also have USAA insurance.

Read MoneyGeek's USAA auto Insurance Review
2
Erie
Score:93

4/5

Affordability

5/5

Claims Ratings

4/5

User Satisfaction

A+

Financial Stability

Geek Quick Take
Geek Quick Take

Erie is the second-best car insurance firm in North Carolina. It got a maximum score for claims processing and above-average marks for customer satisfaction and affordability.

More About Erie

Erie’s standout features include personal item coverage, which covers damages to items inside the car. The optional Rate Lock feature assures your premiums will stay unchanged each year if you don't alter your policy. You can benefit from automatic accident forgiveness after you've been a customer for three years.

Read MoneyGeek's Erie auto Insurance Review
3
Auto-Owners Insurance Co
Score:90

4/5

Affordability

3/5

Claims Ratings

4/5

User Satisfaction

A++

Financial Stability

4
North Carolina Farm Bureau
Score:88

4/5

Affordability

4/5

Claims Ratings

4/5

User Satisfaction

A

Financial Stability

5
GEICO
Score:85

3/5

Affordability

3/5

Claims Ratings

3/5

User Satisfaction

A++

Financial Stability

6
State Farm
Score:83

3/5

Affordability

3/5

Claims Ratings

4/5

User Satisfaction

A

Financial Stability

7
Nationwide
Score:80

2/5

Affordability

3/5

Claims Ratings

3/5

User Satisfaction

A+

Financial Stability

8
Travelers
Score:80

2/5

Affordability

3/5

Claims Ratings

2/5

User Satisfaction

A++

Financial Stability

9
MetLife
Score:80

3/5

Affordability

3/5

Claims Ratings

2/5

User Satisfaction

A+

Financial Stability

10
Safeco
Score:78

3/5

Affordability

2/5

Claims Ratings

3/5

User Satisfaction

A

Financial Stability

11
Progressive
Score:78

3/5

Affordability

2/5

Claims Ratings

2/5

User Satisfaction

A+

Financial Stability

12
Allstate
Score:75

2/5

Affordability

2/5

Claims Ratings

2/5

User Satisfaction

A+

Financial Stability

13
Liberty Mutual
Score:75

2/5

Affordability

3/5

Claims Ratings

2/5

User Satisfaction

A

Financial Stability

14
National General
Score:73

3/5

Affordability

2/5

Claims Ratings

2/5

User Satisfaction

A-

Financial Stability

While USAA scores highly in many areas, this provider is only available to military members, veterans and their families.

List of the Largest Insurance Companies in North Carolina

The three biggest insurers in North Carolina by market share are State Farm (14.9%), GEICO (12.3%) and Nationwide (10.8%). Market share is the number of premiums written by an insurance company divided by the total number of premiums written in the state.

Ideally, you should consider a large provider for your auto insurance coverage, as it will likely have the financial stability to pay out your claim without trouble. Though a big company may not be the best option for all drivers, it does guarantee extra security because of its reputation.

How to Compare Cheap North Carolina Car Insurance Quotes Online

Most insurers offer an online quote feature for consumers’ convenience. You should use consistent limits while comparing quotes. For example, if you get a rate with one carrier for $100,000 in bodily injury liability insurance, you should make sure to use the same limit when acquiring prices from another provider.

Input your ZIP code below to compare premiums, or use MoneyGeek’s pricing data to find good company websites to shop on. In North Carolina, Nationwide, State Farm and Erie are the three least expensive insurers, and they are ideal places to start your search for a policy.

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What Is the Average Cost of Car Insurance in North Carolina?

Car insurance companies compute annual insurance premiums based on a driver’s background information, including vehicle details and driving history. To give you an idea of the cheapest insurance rates available in North Carolina, MoneyGeek created a profile for the average North Carolina driver. He is a 40-year-old male driving a Toyota Camry with no previous traffic violations. In the following list, you can see how the rates fluctuate based on various factors.

  • Average Driver: $841
  • DUI: $3,397
  • Speeding Ticket: $1,193
  • Poor Credit Score: $1,061
  • Seniors: $847
  • Students: $1,831

Drivers in North Carolina with a high-risk driving violation in their history, such as a DUI, are riskier for insurers to cover and will pay higher rates. In this state, the average cost of car insurance for drivers with a DUI is $3,397 per year, compared to $841 for the average driver with a clean record.

The least expensive insurers in North Carolina for a driver with a DUI and full coverage are:

  • Nationwide: $2,240 per year
  • State Farm: $2,572 per year

These two providers also present the cheapest full coverage packages for drivers with a clean record.

Average Car Insurance Rates With a DUI

More than 3,848 drunk driving deaths occurred in North Carolina between 2009-2018. 1.3% of drivers in North Carolina admit to driving after drinking too much in the past 30 days. North Carolina has instituted strict penalties for those caught driving under the influence, including jail time, fines and license suspension. Finding cheap car insurance with a DUI in North Carolina may take extra work, but it can be done. Review the table above to get a sense of how premiums stack up across several companies.

In previous years, individuals convicted of a DUI in North Carolina could have their records expunged after seven years. That law changed and now only individuals found not guilty – or those whose cases were dismissed – can have their record expunged. Otherwise, it stays permanently. Having a DUI can result in costs far beyond court fees and fines, so think twice before getting behind the wheel while impaired.

It’s advisable to avoid even a minor driving offense like a ticket, as it will increase your car insurance costs. In North Carolina, drivers with a recorded speeding ticket need to shell out $1,193 per year on average for auto insurance, compared to $841 for those with a spotless record.

The most affordable car insurance companies in North Carolina for a driver with full coverage and a speeding ticket are:

  • Nationwide: $866 per year
  • State Farm: $971 per year

Meanwhile, Progressive has the most expensive full coverage package for a driver with tickets in North Carolina, with an average annual rate of $1,490.

Average Car Insurance Rates With a Ticket

Tickets for distracted driving and speeding can cause your car insurance rates to rise in some cases, and for good reason. Whether looking at your cell phone or adjusting your radio dial, these acts can have serious consequences for yourself and others. The table above looks at approximate rates of auto insurance for those with a ticket on their record.

According to I Drive Safely, moving violations stay on your driving record for approximately three years. After this time – assuming you do not receive any other citations – you can apply for more affordable auto insurance.

A bad credit score can make it more difficult to obtain loans, and it can also increase your insurance costs. In North Carolina, drivers with poor credit pay $1,061 per year on average for their car insurance coverage, about $220 more than the typical driver pays.

The cheapest car insurance companies in North Carolina for a driver with poor credit and full coverage are:

  • GEICO: $540 per year
  • Nationwide: $724 per year

While GEICO offers cheaper full coverage packages for drivers with bad credit, State Farm’s rates are lower for those with a healthy credit score.

Average Car Insurance Rates for Drivers With Bad Credit

North Carolinians maintained an overall average credit score of 694 as of 2019, a number considered “good” by credit reporting company Experian. But not all residents have a great credit score. For those with low numbers, their car insurance rates may be higher. When writing an insurance policy, agencies must assess the risk they take on by insuring that person. People with bad credit are seen as higher risk because they may not be able to pay their premiums due to outstanding debt. The table above gives you a sense of what to expect if you have a bad credit rating.

A bad credit score can impact your rates for a lot more than car insurance, so it’s best to try and raise it as soon as possible. The good news is that improving your credit score may help improve your rates.

In North Carolina, senior drivers typically need to pay slightly higher car insurance rates than the typical driver. The average price of car insurance is $847 per year for senior drivers in the state, $6 more than a 40-year-old driver pays.

The most affordable insurers in North Carolina for senior drivers with full coverage are:

  • Nationwide: $549 per year
  • State Farm: $687 per year

These two providers also present the cheapest full coverage insurance options for the average non-senior driver.

Average Car Insurance Rates for Seniors

Drivers aged 65 and older are considered seniors and may encounter several unique factors when gathering free car insurance quotes in North Carolina. Due to the fact that these drivers were responsible for 14.3% of all fatal crashes in the state during 2017, some insurers may require them to pay higher rates. When seeking car insurance for seniors, emphasize factors such as a clean record and a reduced amount of driving to vie for lower rates. The table above demonstrates the spectrum of costs senior drivers may be quoted.

Seniors in North Carolina can renew their license every eight years until the age of 66. Those aged 66 and older must renew their license every five years. Regardless of age, seniors must pass a vision test every time they apply.

Student drivers are relatively inexperienced, which makes them riskier to cover. Therefore, they generally pay much higher car insurance premiums. In North Carolina, a student driver needs to pay an average cost of $1,831 per year for their auto insurance, more than twice the average rate for a typical driver.

The least expensive car insurance firms in North Carolina for student drivers with full coverage are:

  • State Farm: $1,258 per year
  • Nationwide: $1,464 per year

Progressive offers the costliest coverage for students in this state, with an average annual premium of $2,426.

Average Car Insurance Rates for Students

Inform your insurer when your teenager is ready to begin driving and discuss ways to minimize the inevitable increase in premiums. If you limit your child to driving your least expensive car, for example, it may keep your rate down.

Talk to your teen about laws and any additional safety rules you expect her/him to follow – a precaution that research suggests may cut a teen's risk of an accident in half. The North Carolina Department of Insurance suggests signing a contract with your teen before turning over the keys. You can find a sample contract on the DOI website.

If your child heads off to college in another state, your coverage will continue, but your premium may change based on where she/he lives. Even if not driving at school, you can't remove your child from your policy as long as their permanent residence is your home. They will be covered for liability when borrowing a car at school and visiting home during breaks.

North Carolina currently ranks third in the nation for teen driver deaths, averaging 2.36 fatalities per 10,000 licensed drivers aged 16-19. Because of this, finding cheap car insurance quotes for this age group can be difficult. Review the above table to see how approximate costs vary across insurance companies.

Insurance Rate Information for Military Drivers and Veterans

Home to Fort Bragg, America's largest Army base, North Carolina has a large active military and veteran population. When comparing insurance rates, look into companies that cater to active military, veterans and their families, like USAA or Armed Forces Insurance (AFI). They will likely offer special insurance options to cover you during military deployments, for example. Other insurance companies, like GEICO, also provide special discounts for military families.

If you are a member of the Armed Forces and deployed outside North Carolina, you can present the DMV with your deployment orders and renew your license prior to leaving. If your license expires while on active duty outside of North Carolina, you have 60 days after you are released from active duty to renew. You can also register a vehicle by mail when deployed out of state.

Average Rates for North Carolina service members

male
25 years$968
50 years$869
female
25 years$968
50 years$869

Car Insurance in North Carolina: What You Need to Know

All drivers in North Carolina must carry liability insurance and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You need to carry liability coverage on your vehicle to maintain its registration. If you plan to cancel your insurance or switch to a new company, turn in your license plate or purchase the new policy before canceling your old insurance. Otherwise, the state could fine you.

Proof of Insurance in North Carolina

You must provide proof of auto insurance to register your vehicle in North Carolina. The state does not accept out-of-state policies.

Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements in North Carolina

North Carolina requires that all motor vehicle drivers possess the following minimum insurance coverage:

  • $30,000 for injuries to one person
  • $60,000 for injuries per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage

The state also requires that all policies include uninsured motorist coverage with the same 30/60/25 minimums. If a motorist without insurance hits you, this coverage helps pay for the damages.

How Much Coverage Do You Need in North Carolina?

North Carolina's liability coverage minimums are slightly higher than average, but that doesn't mean this is enough to cover you in a serious accident. Most experts recommend carrying liability insurance with up to $100,000 for injuries per person and $300,000 per accident. If you have a new car, your lender will probably also require collision and comprehensive insurance. Talk with your insurance agent to decide what combination of insurance is best for you.

North Carolina adds a surcharge on all insurance policies to fund the North Carolina Reinsurance Facility, the state's "residual" auto insurance program for high-risk drivers. When an insurance company thinks a driver is too risky to insure, it will transfer the driver to the residual pool. North Carolina's Reinsurance Facility covers around a quarter of the state's drivers. This is the largest percentage of drivers insured in any residual state pool in the country.

Because the pool incorporates surcharges to help fund the pool, some consumer advocates complain that the program punishes drivers with good driving records. But former North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin argues that the system works. "Drivers in North Carolina are fortunate to have among the lowest average car insurance costs in the country," he said. "On top of that, they have an abundance of choices of coverage from more than 150 car insurance companies. Making drastic changes to our system would only benefit insurers' bottom lines and lead to higher rates for all North Carolina drivers."

Average Insurance Rate by City in North Carolina

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FAQs About Car Insurance in North Carolina

To help consumers make the right buying decision, MoneyGeek answers their commonly asked questions about car insurance policies and rates in North Carolina.

Expert Advice on Finding Cheap Car Insurance in North Carolina

To help you find credible and accurate information on car insurance in North Carolina, MoneyGeek collected expert advice from trusted professionals. The perspectives and opinions expressed are those of the individual contributor.

  1. What are the key factors drivers in North Carolina should look for when searching for the best auto insurance coverage?
  2. What steps can drivers in North Carolina take to find affordable car insurance?
  3. How do regulations and rules in North Carolina impact insurance pricing and how consumers might shop for coverage?
David Marlett
David Marlett

Managing Director of Brantley Risk and Insurance Center, IIANC Distinguished Professor of Insurance at Appalachian State University

Melissa M. Hart
Melissa M. Hart

Senior Lecturer, Finance at North Carolina State University

Dr. Brenda Wells
Dr. Brenda Wells

Robert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program

John Forlines III
John Forlines III

Professor of Economics at Duke University

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About the Author


expert-profile

Katy McWhirter is a professional writer and owner of Heritage Creatives, a boutique historical branding agency. She has experience in nonprofit management, marketing, personal finance, government relations and education from her decade-plus writing career. Katy’s work has been featured in both the United States and abroad, highlighting the need for research-driven, accessible information on financial topics.

Katy earned her bachelor’s degree in social entrepreneurship from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and her master’s degree in modern history from the University of York in England. She spends her free time with her husband and two cats, restoring their 1901 home in Louisville and reading up on all things personal finance.


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