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UPDATED: Apr 2, 2020
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|North Carolina Statistics||Details|
|Miles of Roadway||108,012|
|Most Popular Vehicle||Honda Accord|
|Uninsured Motorist Rate||6.50%|
|Total Driving Related Deaths in 2017||1412|
|Speeding Fatalities in 2017||423|
|DUI Fatalities in 2017||413|
|Average Car Insurance Cost||$357.59|
|Cheapest Provider||Liberty Mutual|
North Carolina holds a lot of firsts in this great nation; first miniature golf course, first English child born (Virginia Dare), and the first Pepsi were served in New Bern. It also holds title to the largest of many things. One of those things is the largest highways systems maintained by the state.
So needless to say, in North Carolina, you need to have great insurance to cover you and your vehicle on all those roadways.
Insurance can be a bit overwhelming, much like standing in Beech Mountain, NC which is the highest town above sea-level in Eastern America.
We will cover everything you need to know about North Carolina car insurance from rates and coverages to rules and penalties. So sit back and enjoy the ride while we make it easy.
We make it so easy, you can even get and compare auto quotes right here!
State Car Insurance Coverage And Rates
North Carolina doesn’t mess around when it comes to insurance. State law is you must carry insurance. Fines can be imposed if you have a lapse in insurance ranging from $50-$150.
You can also serve jail time if you are found guilty of driving without insurance. No one wants a Class 1 misdemeanor on their record for something that could be easily avoided.
State Minimum Limits
Not only does North Carolina require insurance, but they also require a minimum limit for certain coverages.
|Liability Coverage||Minimum Limit|
|Bodily injury for each person||$30,000|
|Bodily Injury for total persons||$60,000|
As you can see, you may have coverage, but the coverage can run out pretty quickly in a fatal accident. States often have guidelines set, but its best to get the best (and most affordable) coverage to make sure if you or a family member are in an accident that you aren’t left with staggering hospital bills. North Carolina’s minimum coverage may not be enough to cut it.
We will cover some endorsements as you read on. Endorsements that could save your wallet and your sanity as you navigate through the claims and coverage process of car insurance.
Forms of Financial Responsibility
The Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act of 1957 requires all car registration applicants to have an in-force insurance policy and it must stay in-force throughout the period of registration. If one’s insurance is to cancel or to lapse, the insurance company must report this status change to DMV.
If your insurance has indeed canceled or lapsed in coverage, you will have fine to pay and should do immediately. Avoiding or ignoring those fines could result in more fines and the seizing of your license plate rendering your car useless to drive on North Carolina roads.
But not to worry, if there was a mix up in your coverage (which can happen,) your insurance agent can send notice to DMV that you are in clear and have current coverage for your vehicle.
Clearly, if you live in North Carolina, you have to have insurance. One of the biggest questions often asked regarding insurance is “what is it going to cost?”
We all work hard and have other things we would rather buy with that money, so next, we are going to take a look at how much of your income will be going towards keeping your vehicle on the road with insurance.
Premiums As A Percentage of Income
Insurance is slowly increasing as the years go by (like most things). A few years ago, insurance accounted for 2.07 percent of the insured’s disposable income and has now climbed to 2.19 percent.
And while that can be annoying to see your paycheck go towards insurance, cars are getting more expensive and accidents are on the rise especially with teen drivers.
North Carolina ranks in the middle with these states. Bordering states, like South Carolina and Tenessee, tend to see higher percentages of their income going towards insurance bills.
Use this handy calculator to find out what your income to premium ratio is! CalculatorPro
– Core Coverage
The main components of your core coverage are liability, collision, comprehensive, and full coverage (meaning you have all the listed coverages).
Good news for North Carolina residents, your North Carolina car insurance is lower than the average coverage for the rest of the nation.
|Coverage||Average Cost, North Carolina||Average Cost, Nationwide|
Now, let’s move onto those extra coverages. Most policies let you pick and chose different coverages to cater to your needs or decide what extra coverages you may need.
– Additional Liability
As discussed earlier, North Carolina requires all registered cars to have uninsured liability coverage. There are some added coverages insurance carriers will offer to add to your policy. Medical Payment coverage is one of those added coverages available.
Medical payments would pay for the vehicle owner or others in the car for medical treatments necessary due to the claim. It pays regardless of fault and will pay for funeral expenses and/or medical needs.
With these extra coverages, people often wonder, “is the company going to pay out?” Good question. Companies use the term loss ratio to determine how much they, the company, are paying out in claims. If the loss ratio is higher, over 100 percent, then they are losing money.
The premiums they are charging are not covering claims filed. If the ratio is low, the company isn’t paying out claims.
|Loss Ratio||North Carolina||Nationwide|
Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders
Insurance companies have a lot of other add-on coverages available to you as an insured. Each company varies slightly in their coverages and offer different coverages. Once you pick an insurance company, you can tailor your policy to fit your needs.
These coverages are not mandatory, but they do add some specialized coverages that come in handy in the unexpected event that you need a rental car or you drive a classic car.
- Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
- Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
- Rental Reimbursement
- Emergency Roadside Assistance
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
- Non-Owner Car Insurance
- Modified Car Insurance Coverage
- Classic Car Insurance
- Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance
Once you decide on a policy you can add the above coverages to your policy. Talk to your agent and explain your needs and your agent can apply the above coverages for extra coverage in the event of a need.
– Demographic Rates
Your agent plugs in your information and out pops your premium. But really what determines your premium? Many factors go into this magical number. Where is your car garaged? How old are you?
Another factor that plays into getting your premium is gender and marital status.
|Company||Married 35-year old female||Married 35-year old male||Married 60-year old female||Married 60-year old male||Single 17-year old female||Single 17-year old male||Single 25-year old female||Single 25-year old male|
|Geico Govt Employees||$2,521.28||$2,474.28||$2,482.19||$2,437.32||$4,603.65||$4,563.43||$2,212.08||$2,199.26|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$2,692.15||$2,692.15||$2,327.42||$2,327.42||$3,966.45||$3,966.45||$3,328.58||$3,328.58|
|Standard Fire Ins Co||$2,665.43||$2,665.43||$2,644.05||$2,644.05||$4,485.32||$4,485.32||$2,735.84||$2,735.84|
It is clear to see, the younger you are the higher the premium. Once a driver turns 20, there is a significant decrease in whether you will be in an accident. Drivers ages 16-19 are three times more likely to be in an accident than someone over 20.
You can also see being married can also add a little discount. So ladies, let your spouse know you are saving money!
Zip code is also a major factor in the rate. You may not be in 90210, but you could have a higher premium just because of the part of town you park your car.
|25 Most Expensive Zip Codes in North Carolina||City||Average by Zip Code||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|28205||CHARLOTTE||$4,803.84||Allstate||$10,255.09||State Farm||$4,754.10||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,600.76|
|28206||CHARLOTTE||$4,801.37||Allstate||$10,255.09||State Farm||$4,730.74||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,606.80|
|28212||CHARLOTTE||$4,795.85||Allstate||$10,255.09||State Farm||$4,752.72||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,546.16|
|28208||CHARLOTTE||$4,786.44||Allstate||$10,176.40||State Farm||$4,724.45||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,587.28|
|28217||CHARLOTTE||$4,746.83||Allstate||$9,909.55||State Farm||$4,710.84||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,590.48|
|28262||CHARLOTTE||$4,649.95||Allstate||$9,496.84||State Farm||$4,569.67||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,466.15|
|28215||CHARLOTTE||$4,639.07||Allstate||$9,084.42||State Farm||$4,766.92||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,605.20|
|28213||CHARLOTTE||$4,633.71||Allstate||$9,102.08||State Farm||$4,674.82||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||GEICO||$3,621.01|
|28216||CHARLOTTE||$4,530.13||Allstate||$8,427.84||State Farm||$4,764.99||Liberty Mutual||$3,198.09||Progressive||$3,501.10|
|28310||FORT BRAGG||$4,347.17||Allstate||$9,218.95||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,204.08|
|28308||POPE A F B||$4,330.29||Allstate||$9,205.54||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,149.93|
|28307||FORT BRAGG||$4,328.13||Allstate||$9,218.95||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,108.69|
|28390||SPRING LAKE||$4,274.80||Allstate||$8,991.91||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,113.76|
|28348||HOPE MILLS||$4,256.98||Allstate||$8,867.89||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,092.61|
As you can see, the Queen City, Charlotte, takes the top nine spots for most expensive zip codes for car insurance.
|25 Least Expensive Zip Codes in North Carolina||City||Average by Zip Codes||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|27265||HIGH POINT||$2,883.83||Allstate||$6,076.76||Travelers||$2,750.53||Liberty Mutual||$1,918.26||Progressive||$1,993.83|
|28711||BLACK MOUNTAIN||$2,891.80||Allstate||$6,227.12||Travelers||$2,681.73||Liberty Mutual||$1,865.73||Progressive||$2,054.26|
|27516||CHAPEL HILL||$2,894.00||Allstate||$6,543.38||Travelers||$2,628.40||Liberty Mutual||$1,833.71||Progressive||$1,926.80|
|27103||WINSTON SALEM||$2,906.04||Allstate||$6,155.71||Travelers||$2,750.53||Liberty Mutual||$1,918.26||Progressive||$2,038.99|
|27105||WINSTON SALEM||$2,906.78||Allstate||$6,155.71||Travelers||$2,750.53||Liberty Mutual||$1,918.26||Progressive||$2,027.48|
|27045||RURAL HALL||$2,911.84||Allstate||$6,076.76||Travelers||$2,750.53||Liberty Mutual||$1,918.26||Progressive||$2,035.22|
|27101||WINSTON SALEM||$2,913.24||Allstate||$6,155.71||Travelers||$2,750.53||Liberty Mutual||$1,918.26||Progressive||$2,025.74|
Below, you can also use these tables to search for your city and see if it’s among the most and least expensive North Carolina cities.
|10 Most Expensive Cities in North Carolina||Average by City||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|Pope Army Airfield||$4,330.29||Allstate||$9,205.54||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,149.93|
|Fort Bragg||$4,328.13||Allstate||$9,218.95||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,108.69|
|Spring Lake||$4,274.80||Allstate||$8,991.91||Travelers||$4,040.19||Liberty Mutual||$2,815.72||Progressive||$3,113.76|
|Hope Mills||$4,135.67||Allstate||$8,944.64||Travelers||$3,802.86||Liberty Mutual||$2,670.66||Progressive||$2,928.48|
|Rex||$4,043.21||Allstate||$9,021.39||State Farm||$3,678.16||Liberty Mutual||$2,525.61||Progressive||$2,824.28|
Charlotte stole the spotlight in the most expensive zip code category, but Newell takes the lead in the most expensive city. A suburb of Charlotte is claimed to be “one of the best places to live in North Carolina.”
|10 Least Expensive Cities in North Carolina||Average by City||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|Black Mountain||$2,891.80||Allstate||$6,227.12||Travelers||$2,681.73||Liberty Mutual||$1,865.73||Progressive||$2,054.26|
– Best North Carolina Car Insurance Companies
Finding the right insurance company can be hard. They all offer to have the quickest quotes, cheapest rates, and stellar coverage. But how do you really know which company is best for you?
Next, we will help you look through some different companies. The cheapest companies to the ones with the most complaints, and hopefully we can help you start in the right direction so you too can have a cheap rate and not be one of those with a complaint about your car insurance.
So here we go! Let’s start by calling out those companies with the best ratings!
– The Largest Companies Financial Rating
You may be wondering why one would care about the financial rating of an insurance company. The financial rating of an insurance company lets you know if that insurance company is strong.
If you were to get in a catastrophic accident, could that company pay out your large claims covered within your policy limits?
If an insurance company has a higher financial rating, the company has a good standing in paying out claims for their insureds. At the end of the day, we have insurance for claims. We need insurance for when things go wrong, so you want a company that is going to pay out when you need it.
|Company Name||AM Best Rating||Loss Ratio|
|State Farm Group||A++||70.51%|
|Nationwide Corp Group||A+||58.78%|
|North Carolina Farm Bureau Group||A+||70.25%|
|Amtrust NGH Group||A-||84.27%|
|Allstate Insurance Group||A+||56.64%|
|Erie Insurance Group||A+||69.68%|
|Liberty Mutual Group||A||61.99%|
As you can see, the top ten companies writing in North Carolina, have all A- or higher ratings. Meaning North Carolina has a lot of great companies that can cover the drivers of this great state.
The above table also shows the loss ratio of the top ten companies. As we mentioned earlier, the loss ratio is important to see if the company actually pays out the claims. They may have the financial standings to do so, but we also want to look and see if they actually do pay it.
Thankfully, you can see the companies listed above do pay out claims but also they are not paying out so many claims that they will eventually not have good financial ratings.
Having the money to back claims is always a plus, but that is just part of it. You also want to have a great company that has good ratings for the customer.
– Companies with Best Ratings
Price may get you in the door to your insurance provider, but it may not keep you. Service is where it’s at. In most cases, people are willing to pay a little more if the service is good.
If you are well taken care of and made to feel that you matter, you will often stick around even when the price goes up.
See where your insurance provider ranks on the list of Southeast carriers or maybe where you should consider getting a quote:
So now that we have seen the companies with the best ratings, let’s take a look at the top ten companies writing in North Carolina and see how they measure up in the complaints department.
– Complaints of the Top 10 Insurance Companies in North Carolina
Looking at the ratio of complaints gives us the best data. If we just looked at how many complaints were filed against each company, we would miss some important information.
For instance, if a company only had $100,000 of premium and received 5 complaints one may think, “oh that’s not too bad!” In reality, their loss ratio would be higher than a company with $500,000 of premium and received 10 complaints.
The national median complaint ratio is 1.20. If your insurance company has a lower score than the national median, chances are they are going pretty well and not getting a lot of complaints.
Company Name Complaint Ratio State Farm Group 0.44 Nationwide Corp Group 0.28 Geico 0.62 North Carolina Farm Bureau Group 0.66 Amtrust NGH Group 0 Allstate Insurance Group 0.5 USAA Group 0.94 Progressive Group 0.75 Erie Insurance Group 0.7 Liberty Mutual Group 5.95
Luckily, for North Carolina, only one company was higher in 2017 for complaints. Not a lot of complaining is going on in North Carolina.
– Car Insurance Rates by Company
So while service may keep your business, the price is usually what gets you in the door initially. Each company can have different factors when they quote you and some weigh heavier on some while others may not.
Company Average Compared to State Average Percent =/- State Average Allstate P&C $7,190.43 $3,797.32 52.81% Geico Govt Employees $2,936.69 -$456.43 -15.54% Liberty Mutual $2,182.71 -$1,210.40 -55.45% Nationwide Mutual $2,848.04 -$545.08 -19.14% Progressive Premier $2,382.61 -$1,010.50 -42.41% State Farm Mutual Auto $3,078.65 -$314.46 -10.21% Standard Fire Ins Co $3,132.66 -$260.45 -8.31%
There are some drastic differences between some of these premiums. Some premiums are over half less than the state average. It pays to shop around on your insurance. You don’t want to skimp on coverage, but some companies have much lower premiums than others.
– Commute Rates by Companies
Some companies will rate the use of your vehicle. We found in North Carolina that most companies have the same average premium for pleasure usage or commute.
It is always good to give detailed usage to your insurance agent so that she/he may be able to decide how to classify your usage and give you the best coverage.
– Rates by Coverage Level
Most people think the lower the coverage the cheaper the premium. That may be true, but often it’s not as much as one would think.
|Insurance Company||Low Coverage||Medium Coverage||High Coverage|
As you can see from the above table, you can get better coverage for less than $100 more with some companies! So it is always good to quote out your coverage even with your existing company.
– Credit History Rates by Companies
Credit history is something that can follow you everywhere. It is often thought of when making big purchases; such as homes, cars, and major credit card purchases. It is also something that can potentially change your car insurance rates.
Insurance Company Poor Fair Good Allstate $9,736.64 $6,309.79 $5,524.87 State Farm $4,327.76 $2,763.43 $2,144.76 Travelers $3,352.92 $3,043.96 $3,001.11 Geico $3,177.49 $2,922.17 $2,710.39 Nationwide $2,848.03 $2,848.03 $2,848.03 Progressive $2,689.33 $2,325.80 $2,132.70 LIberty Mutual $2,182.71 $2,182.71 $2,182.71
An insurance company will give you drastically lower rates with a good credit score. So remember your score can follow you and even change your rates.
The average credit score nationwide is 675. North Carolina is ranked close to the average at 666.
– Driving Record Rates by Companies
This is probably an obvious statement, violations on your record, whether they are speeding or a DUI will cause a rate increase. The question is usually how much will your rate change with certain violations.
|Company||Clean Record||One Speeding Violation||One Accident||One DUI|
The answer to that question is depending on the violation, your insurance can drastically increase. Driving under the influence is not only a serious charge and a danger to yourself and others, but it can also haunt you with extremely high insurance rates.
A clear driving record tells the insurance company that you are a good risk to take on and that the likelihood of a claim is lower than someone with a lengthy record.
– Largest Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina
The below chart will show which companies write the most in North Carolina.
|Company||Direct Premium Written||Market Share|
|State Farm Group||$915,686||15.30%|
|Nationwide Corp Group||$760,136||12.70%|
|North Carolina Farm Bureau Group||$566,514||9.46%|
|Amtrust NGH Group||$558,355||9.33%|
|Allstate Insurance Group||$503,501||8.41%|
|Erie Insurance Group||$226,829||3.79%|
|Liberty Mutual Group||$175,250||2.93%|
State Farm, Nationwide, and Geico hold the top three spots for largest written premium.
Number of Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina
Domestic versus Foreign, what exactly does that mean? Most of the time when one hears foreign, you would automatically think outside of the United States.
In the insurance world, this just means outside of that operating state. So, if the home office is located in Florida, but they are writing in North Carolina, they are considered foreign.
|Property and Casualty Insurers|
There are a lot more insurance companies with home offices outside of North Carolina than inside the state. Nevertheless, it gives the insured more options to be able to pick from various insurers.
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North Carolina Laws
We have covered a lot about the insurance companies, now we are going to move into the laws of your state. It can be very confusing. We are going to break down the different laws to help you navigate this tricky part.
North Carolina State Laws
State laws directly affect insurance laws. They are what drive certain coverages one needs to keep their car on the road and covered. Reading state law though can be a little tricky, unless, of course, you are a trained attorney.
We are going to break down some North Carolina Insurance laws and help you figure out important laws that keep you fine free on the road. Registration of vehicles, coverages, and rules of the road are just a few we will discuss.
North Carolina Car Insurance Laws
So who thinks up of these laws anyway? In short, the North Carolina General Assembly combined of Representatives and Senators voted on by you!
You can find the extensive list of laws here.
We are going to break them down for you. So keep reading and buckle those seatbelts (for real, its the law!)
It’s really annoying when you are driving behind a truck on the interstate and rock hits your windshield. Suddenly, you have a huge crack going from one side to the other.
Thankfully in North Carolina, the consumer can choose to use any windshield repair vendor for this repair. And while it is the law, most companies will cover this claim if you have comprehensive coverage on the vehicle.
As always, you should always check with your agent about having this coverage and what you should do if you do find yourself with a cracked windshield in North Carolina.
Accidents happen. Most of us have received at least one speeding ticket in our driving history. But others have a harder time with their record. If your record is filled with speeding violations, DUIs, and multiple accidents chances are you are considered a high-risk driver.
North Carolina does not require SR-22. SR-22 is a filing with the state to verify the high-risk driver is carrying the appropriate minimum coverage determined by the state.
If you are considered high-risk, you can contact North Carolina Department of Insurance for a list of high-risk insurers if your current carrier does not offer the coverage.
Some states offer low-cost insurance plans for insureds, unfortunately, North Carolina is not one of those states. The best way to ensure you have the cheapest rate is to shop your coverage. Talk with an agent and explain what coverages you may need and want.
Automobile Insurance Fraud in North Carolina
Auto fraud seems to be a growing problem nationwide. In all states, fraud is considered a crime.
There are different types of fraud dealing with auto insurance, from rate evasion, which is withholding information or giving a wrong social to avoid pulling a bad credit history, to disposing of your own vehicle and reporting it stolen.
Sadly, about 10 percent of people having insurance admitted to giving false information to lower their rate.
It is not only the insurance company that can get cheated with fraud. You as a consumer can also get cheated by buying a car that has been tampered. Odometer fraud is also a growing problem. If you think you have bought a car that has been tampered with, please contact North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Statute of Limitations
An insured has a certain amount of time to file a claim against an insurance company. This is called the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, the insured has three years to file a claim against there personal injury or property damage.
North Carolina Specific Laws
Most North Carolina state laws are pretty similar to other states. Nothing out of the ordinary to worry about. If you do have a young driver, I would brush up on state law regarding young drivers. There are nighttime driving and passenger restriction limits.
– Vehicle Licensing Laws
You have to have insurance to drive a car and if you have a car, you have to have a license. You can not operate any vehicle without a valid license.
In North Carolina, you must have a license to even sit in the driver’s seat while a car engine is running.
The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles is the entity that issues all permits and license. The type of license you are issued is in direct correlation with the type of vehicle or the use of the vehicle.
– Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
If you are found guilty of driving without valid insurance, you will have fines and could remain suspended for up to thirty days. First offense is a $50 fine and registration will be suspended until insurance is in force.
If you had a car accident and do not have valid insurance, your registration will be suspended for 30 days. Once you have insurance, you will have to pay $50 restoration fee along with license plate fees. If it happens again within three years, your initial fee with double to $100.
The following are accepted forms proving insurance:
- A policy from a licensed insurance company showing effective dates
- Your insurance provider can send an FS-1 (Certificate of Insurance) showing the vehicle being driven
- DL-123 insurance form which is provided by your North Carolina Insurance Company.
If your insurance lapses or cancels, for any reason, the insurance provider sends notice to DMV. This will alert DMV that you no longer carry insurance on your vehicle.
If you do not send in proof of liability coverage, your registration will be suspended.
Teen Driver Laws
Most of us know the exciting feeling you get when you get your license. You are finally free to go out on the open road. First, you may want to check state laws about how open those roads are for a teen driver.
Most states have restrictions regarding teen drivers. Below we will break down the laws regarding teens.
|Restrictions||Limit||Minimum Age Restrictions are lifted|
|Nighttime Driving||11 p.m.-5 a.m.||12 months after initial license (min. age: 17)|
|Passengers||No passenger under 20 (limited exception with family)||12 months after initial license (min. age: 17)|
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures (IIHS)
If you are renewing a license and you are 70 and older there are only two things you will do differently. First, you can no longer renew your license via mail or online. Secondly, you have to go to DMV every five years in person. Along with that in-person visit, you will also have to do a mandatory vision screening.
Welcome to North Carolina! You have 60 days. Once you take residence in North Carolina, the state gives you 60 days to obtain a valid license, title your car, and register that car.
You must go to your local North Carolina DMV office to apply for your license. If you have a valid license from another state, written and driving tests may be waived. Once you have your NC license, any other driver’s license from another state will no longer be valid.
– License Renewal Procedures
You must have an active or expired license to renew your driver’s license. If you no longer have it, you must bring two forms of identification.
Renewal is every eight years if you are younger than 66. If 66 and over, you must go every five years. Vision tests are mandatory for all in-person renewals. Under the age of 66, you may renew your license remotely every other renewal period.
North Carolina Point System
North Carolina uses a points system to keep track driving violations. There are insurance points and DMV points. When you are found guilty, you will have insurance points that make your insurance rates go up. You will also have DMV points. If those add up, you could lose your license.
If you rack up 12 or more points in three years, you could have your license suspended. The length of that suspension is based on how many times your license has been suspended in the past.
If you are interested in how many points that speeding ticket cost you, check out DMV’s website.
– Rules of the Road
There are a lot of laws out there regarding the safety of North Carolina roads. Next, we are going to break down a few important rules to keep you in the know and safe while driving.
Fault vs. No-Fault
North Carolina is an at-fault state.This means if you are in an accident, the insurance company of the driver at-fault will pay damages.
There are three types of negligence when it comes to filing an at-fault accident. North Carolina uses pure contributory negligence. This means you have to be 0 percent at fault to receive a payout from the other person’s car insurance.
Therefore, if someone rear-ends you and found at fault, if they can prove you slammed on your breaks to avoid a runaway dog, they can find that you are somewhat at fault and their insurance company does not have to pay your claim. You would then have to file under your own insurance.
Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws
Every state, with the exception of New Hampshire, have seat belt laws. Some states only have laws regarding front seat passengers, while others have laws enforcing seat belts in any seat of the vehicle.
North Carolina’s seat belt and car seat laws are as strict as any. They require the driver and all passengers to use seat belts. If you or a passenger is not wearing a seat belt, you will have a minimum $25 fine for your first offense. Other fees may be added to this fine and for subsequent offenses.
Younger children also have their own guidelines pertaining to seat belts and/or car seats. If you are transporting a child 7 or younger and less than 80 pounds, they must be a proper car seat.
It is always wise to check safety guidelines for your child weight and age regarding their car seat requirements.
Riding in the cargo area of a truck is not allowed under the age of 17 unless that person is belted or with a supervising adult.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
Have you ever been behind someone going below the speed limit and can not get around them? We all have been there. Thankfully, in North Carolina, you shouldn’t have that problem as often. The left lane is prohibited for vehicles traveling slower than the speed limit.
North Carolina also has a law for emergency lighted vehicles, this includes towing or recovery trucks. If traveling in the same direction, leave the closest lane open to the emergency vehicles. If it is not safe to do so, reduce speed as approaching and passing.
Speed limits in North Carolina are pretty standard. The limit on rural and urban interstates and other limited access roads is 70mph. Other roads are set at 55mph.
Ridesharing has become a popular service, but it is still uncommon in the arena of insurance in North Carolina. Most ridesharing companies will offer some coverage, but there are gaps in their coverage leaving the driver vulnerable.
It is always wise to contact your insurance company and explain your situation. With some companies, it may be just a simple endorsement added to your existing policy.
– Automation on the Road (IIHS)
The thought of a car that drove with no driver was once a fantasy. But, now, it has become a reality. Cars are being made that need little to no human interaction to drive down the road.
North Carolina is a state that allows the deployment of automated cars and you don’t even have to be a licensed driver if you are in a fully autonomous car. You will need to still have liability insurance in the event of an accident.
Cars can be very dangerous and cause a lot of damage. North Carolina has laws set in place to keep everyone safe on the roads.
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in most states. If you are thinking of getting in a vehicle after a few drinks, please don’t. The blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or over is considered illegally impaired.
There are five levels of a misdemeanor charge if you are found driving while intoxicated.
|Driving While Intoxicated||Punishment|
|Level Five||Punishable by a fine up to $200 and a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours and a maximum of 60 days. A judge can suspend the sentence but upon completion that the driver spend 24 hours in jail, perform 24 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 30 days.|
|Level Four||Punishable by a fine up to $500 and a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a maximum of 120 days. A judge can suspend the sentence but upon completion that the driver spend 48 hours in jail, perform 48 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 60 days.|
|Level Three||Punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours and a maximum of six months. A judge can suspend the sentence only upon completion that the driver spend at least 72 hours in jail, perform 72 hours of community service or not operate a vehicle for 90 days.|
|Level Two||Punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and a minimum jail sentence of seven days and a maximum of one year. A judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.|
|Level One||Punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of two years. A judge CANNOT suspend the minimum sentence.|
If you continue to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle you will become a habitual offender. You receive this status if you have three DWI convictions in three years.
You have also committed a felony.
So not only do you have the status habitual offender, but you are also a felon. You will also have a mandatory jail sentence of one year and it can not be suspended.
Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws
Currently, there is no marijuana-specific drug-impaired driving.
Distracted Driving Laws (IIHS)
We all know how distracting our cell phone can be. When you are behind the wheel of a car, you have a lot of responsibilities. Cell phones are becoming a severe hazard to use while driving.
North Carolina has banned the use of all cell phone activity for drivers under the age of 18. While they have not banned hand-held operations for adults, they have banned texting for any age while driving.
– North Carolina Need-to-know Facts
Unfortunately, people don’t always make the best decisions. They get in cars and drive when they shouldn’t or sometimes accidents just happen.
In this next section, we are going to look at some common road dangers, traffic, and fatalities on North Carolina road.
I have never felt the horrible sensation of knowing you parked your car in a certain spot and yet it isn’t there. I hope you haven’t either. This next table is going to show the top ten vehicles stolen in North Carolina.
|Car||Year of Vehicle||Year||Thefts|
|Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2004||2004||424|
|Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||2003||2003||370|
|Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||1999||1999||203|
You can also search here to see where your city ranks in stolen vehicles.
|CIty||Population||Motor Vehicle Theft|
|Boiling Spring Lakes||5,546||2|
|Kill Devil Hills||6,869||7|
|North Topsail Beach||735||2|
|Pine Knoll Shores||1,344||1|
Not all accidents lead to fatalities, but unfortunately, it does happen. Next, we are going to look at some statistics of traffic fatalities in North Carolina
Fatalities by Conditions
Traffic fatalities, surprisingly, happen more in normal, daytime than during other conditions.
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Total|
Fatalities by County
This next chart will show the five-year trend on traffic fatalities by county.
Urban versus Rural Areas
In 2016, there were 37,461 traffic fatalities in North Carolina. Out of those fatalities, 18,590 were in rural areas, 17,656 were in urban areas, and 1,215 were in unknown areas.
Fatalities by Person Type
Next, we will look at fatalities broken down by type of person, meaning what were they driving or if they were a pedestrian or cyclist.
|Light Truck - Pickup||149||152||154||177||151|
|Light Truck - Utility||146||144||149||184||170|
|Light Truck - Van||43||52||39||55||51|
|Light Truck - Other||1||0||1||1||3|
|Bicyclist and Other Cyclist||22||19||23||17||29|
Fatalities by Crash Type
Now let’s look at the type of crashes. Shockingly, a single-car accident is the second leading cause of traffic fatalities.
|Involving a Large Truck||139||121||129||152||164|
|Involving a Rollover||311||336||332||361||360|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||775||771||803||889||798|
|Involving an Intersection||239||230||256||245||268|
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
Speeding continues to be a problem on most US roadways. See the below table of fatalities involving speeding.
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver (BAC = .08+) by County
We will now look at fatalities by the county due to alcohol-impaired driving.
Teen Drinking and Driving
The national average for underage drinking fatalities is 1.2 deaths for every 100,000 people. North Carolina’s rate is 1.5 deaths. In 2016, North Carolina was ranked 24 out of the states having 201 DWI arrests for drivers under the age of 18.
– EMS Response Time (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)
There are approximately 432 EMS agencies located in North Carolina. They respond to over 1.6 million events in 2007.
The information above was take from a study of Bertie County, North Carolina.
Lastly, let’s talk about transportation. We will take a look at how many cars families own in North Carolina and how long they are in the road commuting to and from work.
A little over 40 percent of families own two cars, while a little over 20 percent own three.
The average commute time is 23 minutes, which is slightly shorter than the national average. Only 1.8 percent of commuters have “super commutes” which are commutes longer than 90 minutes. That a lot of time driving in your car!
– Commuter Transportation
The clear majority of North Carolina residents travel to work alone. Over 80 percent of residents choose to drive alone to work.
– Traffic Congestion
You have the car, the license, registration, and you know the laws. Now, how long are you going to be sitting in the car you have insured to be driving on the roads you are registered to drive.
Charlotte, North Carolina is ranked 54th in the United States for traffic congestion.
Drivers spend about 7 percent of their time sitting in traffic.
That is a lot of time! But now that you know all the ins and outs of North Carolina car insurance, you are ready to take on the road.
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