Drivers in North Carolina can enjoy beautiful forests, mountains, and rivers that offer some of the best rafting and kayaking in the country. You’re also never too far from beautiful beaches or music festivals. But you should never hit the road without car insurance.

Luckily for residents, North Carolinians pay some of the lowest car insurance premiums in the country - in part because the insurance commissioner puts caps on how much insurance companies can charge. But because of all the competition, you should still take the time to find the best deal for you.

The best way to find affordable car insurance is to complete an auto insurance comparison from multiple carriers. After answering a few basic questions, OnlineAutoInsurance.com lets you compare car insurance quotes online instantly and easily.

But before you start shopping, you need to consider all your coverage options. So what is the minimum coverage needed to meet the legal requirements? And what is the right level of insurance coverage for you?

Minimum Coverage Car Insurance in North Carolina

State laws require the following policies with the stated coverage limits:

Liability Coverage

$30,000 Bodily injury coverage per person

$60,000 Bodily injury coverage for all persons injured

$25,000 Property Damage per accident

Your Bodily Injury Liability Coverage will pay for medical costs, economic losses, and funeral costs when you are in an at-fault accident. Property Damage Liability will pay to repair or replace vehicles or structures you’re liable for in a car accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

$30,000 Bodily injury coverage per person

$60,000 Bodily injury coverage per accident for all persons

**$25,000 Property Damage **per accident

Policies with the minimum liability limits must offer uninsured motorist coverage. So if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver or the victim of a hit-and-run, this policy will cover any injuries and property damage. Policies with limits greater than the minimums must offer combined Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage with the same limits. That means if you’re in an accident the other driver is at fault for, and your damages exceed their maximum limits, your insurance can cover the rest of the damages.

Failure to maintain an insurance policy on your vehicle can lead to suspended license plates and registration, as well as fines and reinstatement fees. You may also be put on probation or serve time in jail. But beyond that, getting into a car accident without insurance means you will have to meet your financial responsibility without the help of an insurance policy - a likely financial catastrophe.

Additional Policies to Consider

While the above policies will meet the requirements of state laws, they won’t help you repair or replace your vehicle - and if you’re at fault in an accident, they won’t help pay your medical bills. If your financial stability is questionable, consider adding these policies to protect you and your assets:

Medical Payments (MedPay)

A Medical Payments policy will pay medical bills for reasonable and necessary medical treatment, as well as funeral expenses, for you or your family members injured in a car accident. Because it’s a kind of no-fault insurance, it will pay out regardless of how the accident occurred. It will even cover you if you’re hit by a car as a pedestrian. If you don’t have health insurance, or if your policy has a very high deductible, MedPay could be very valuable to you.

Collision and Comprehensive

If you’re still paying off your car, your lender will require you to carry Collision and Comprehensive coverage to protect your vehicle. The collision policy will repair or replace your vehicle when it’s damaged in an accident no matter who is at fault. Comprehensive covers damages that occur from everything except collision, such as flood damage. It will also replace your vehicle if it’s stolen.

Determining Fault in a Car Accident

We all hope to avoid car accidents, but you should be prepared for the eventuality. First and foremost, that means you should always keep your current vehicle registration and proof of insurance with you when you drive. You should also have a way to write down notes and take pictures with you, whether that means a smartphone or a notepad and disposable camera in your glove box.

You are required by law to stop for any accident that involves injury, death, or property damage. If someone needs medical attention, call for an ambulance. Either way, you should alert the local law enforcement of the accident. A police officer will take statements and make an official report that determines who is at fault.

If there are severe injuries involved, you may become involved in a lawsuit. North Carolina has some of the strictest Contributory Negligence laws in the country. That means if a jury finds you to be even partially responsible for the accident, you can’t recover any damages for your injuries (other than MedPay benefits), no matter how severe they are.

This also means that the at-fault driver’s insurance company might be very aggressive in trying to prove you were somehow responsible for the accident. Your car insurance company can help you deal with the other insurance company; you don’t have to answer any of their questions if they call you, and you should never admit fault.

What Factors Determine Your Rates?

Your car insurance premiums are determined by a combination of personal factors, the vehicle you want to insure, and the level of protection you select. Each insurance agency will use your information differently, and no single company offers the best rates for everyone.

Personal factors include your age, address, driving record, credit score, and claims history. The higher the risk you are to insure, the more your coverage will cost. If any of these factors change during your policy period, your premiums are subject to change, as well. That means if you get a speeding ticket or other moving violations, or if you make a claim, you’ll likely need to pay more in premiums.

The make, model, and year of your vehicle and the annual mileage it’s driven also have a big role to play in the rates you pay. Cars that are more expensive to repair usually cost more to cover, while those with advanced safety features are usually cheaper. Before you buy a vehicle, you should find out how much it will cost to carry insurance coverage.

Getting Cheap North Carolina Auto Insurance

Once you determine the level of coverage you need, it’s time to shop around to find the best rates. There’s no need to spend hours calling different companies or visiting a ton of different websites when you can take advantage of OnlineAutoInsurance.com’s instant online quotes all in one simple process.

Getting the cheapest rates also means taking advantage of all the discounts you qualify for, including:

  • Safe Driver: Having fewer than two moving violations (depending on the type) may still allow a motorist to get a discount of up to 20%.

  • Multiple Car: If you have multiple vehicles, put them on the same policy for maximum savings. Multi-car discounts are also in the range of 20 percent.

  • Vehicle features: Some vehicles will automatically provide you with discounts if they have features such as anti-lock brakes, theft alarms, daytime running lights, and airbags.

  • Payment Plan: Some payment plans, such as auto-withdrawal or paying the policy term upfront, can save you money.

  • Coverage and Deductibles: When getting free online auto insurance quotes, you should experiment with different deductibles and coverage types to get a better value. However, you shouldn’t skip the necessary coverage or choose a deductible you can’t realistically meet.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance provides a Consumer Guide to car insurance in the state that can help answer additional questions in more detail. You may also visit our learning center for tips and assistance on terms, coverage, and more.

The Bottom Line - Get an Online Quote

Getting the best deal on car insurance doesn’t mean choosing the cheapest liability-only policy you can find. It means finding the policy that will leave you and your assets protected in the worst-case scenario from a reliable car insurance company that offers the best rates for you.

So drive safely, maintain a clean driving record, and take the time to compare rates from multiple companies, even after you have coverage! Switching to a new insurance company can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars monthly. Start your free rate comparison today.