Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that exis...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 21, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • Minimum car insurance in North Carolina is fairly straightforward
  • North Carolina drivers must pay $100 the first time they are caught without insurance
  • North Carolina drivers must pay $150 the second time they are caught without insurance
  • North Carolina drivers must pay $200 the third time they are caught without insurance
  • Drivers face up to 45 days in jail for driving without insurance
  • Drivers automatically lose their license for 30 days if caught driving without insurance


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North Carolina drivers must maintain and carry liability and uninsured motorist coverage to register your vehicles. This law has been in effect since 1957 when the Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act was created.

The purpose is to keep drivers safe on the road, and it’s to keep you from experiencing crippling financial problems due to the exorbitant costs associated with vehicle accidents. Make sure you compare the best rates with our FREE quote tool above! Just enter your ZIP code and start comparing rates today!

Minor accidents in which injuries are minor and cars aren’t badly damaged can still cost at-fault drivers tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s unaffordable to drive without insurance in North Carolina, which is why this law is in effect. The minimum requirements issued by the state are designed to protect your financial interests as well as the financial wellbeing of anyone you injure or harm in a car accident.

Finding affordable insurance is easy in North Carolina, and comparing rates is the best way to ensure you get the best possible quotes. It’s also helpful to have good credit, to have a great driving record, and to shop around for good rates.

What kind of insurance does the law require I have in North Carolina?

North Carolina laws are designed to ensure everyone is driving with 30/60/25. These numbers are for bodily injury insurance, property damage, uninsured motorist property damage coverage, and uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.

You must carry at least $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident worth of bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage.

You must also carry $25,000 worth of both property damage coverage and uninsured motorist property damage insurance.

When you shop for car insurance rates in North Carolina, insurance companies are legally required by law to provide you with quotes that include all of these policies. If you move into the state, you must change your insurance within 30 days of making North Carolina your permanent residence.

If you are driving through on vacation or just visiting family, you must carry the minimum car insurance coverage as required by law in the state where you live.

Do I need coverage for a car I own outright?

You must have at least the minimum coverage for a car you own outright. Some people want to drop their coverage altogether when their car isn’t worth as much as the coverage they’re paying for, and that’s fine.

As long as your policy meets the minimum state requirements in North Carolina, you are not required to have full coverage on any vehicle you own outright.

What if I finance or lease my vehicle in North Carolina?

If your car is financed through a lender or leased through a dealer, you must carry full coverage. There is never an option to carry only the minimum requirement for a car that’s owned by someone else. In this case, the car is owned by the financial institution to which you make your monthly car payment.

Every lender has different requirements, but all lenders require drivers pay for full coverage. If you allow your coverage to lapse or drop it, the lender will find out.

All lenders monitor the insurance policies of all cars they own, and they will issue a notice requiring you purchase full coverage immediately.

If you do not purchase the appropriate policy by the deadline they provide, your lender purchases a policy for you. Lenders do not shop around for good rates, they do not apply for discounts, and they don’t care about your budget when they choose a policy for you.

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Can I get in legal trouble if I don’t have car insurance in North Carolina

Any driver caught on the road in North Carolina without proof of insurance is penalized. The state breaks down penalties into the first offense, second offense, and subsequent offense penalties.

The fines become more expensive, and the penalties get much worse each time you’re caught. This will help you understand what happens when you are caught driving without insurance in North Carolina.

Penalties for First Offenses

Your registration and license are immediately suspended for 30 days when you are caught driving without insurance. You must pay a $50 reinstatement fee at the end of your suspension to validate your license and drive. You must also pay a civil penalty fine of $50.

You’re also sentenced to probation that could last anywhere from one to 45 days. You must prove you have a valid insurance policy to reinstate your license at the end of your suspension.

Penalties for Second Offenses

The second time you are caught driving without insurance, North Carolina requires you to pay a $100 civil penalty fine.

Your license and registration are both suspended for 30 days, and you must pay $50 and prove you have insurance to reinstate both following suspensions. You are also sentenced to either jail time or probation that lasts anywhere from one to 45 days.

Penalties for Subsequent Offenses

If you are caught a subsequent time for driving without insurance, your civil penalty fine increases to $150. Your license and registration are suspended for 30 days.

You must pay $50 and prove you have a valid insurance policy to reinstate both following your suspension, and you face jail time and/or probation that lasts one to 45 days.

Not everyone is sentenced to jail when they are caught driving without insurance, but your chances of being sentenced to jail increase dramatically with each offense.

Finding the Best Insurance Policy in North Carolina

Now that you understand how expensive it is to drive without insurance, it’s helpful to understand purchasing insurance is more affordable.

The average cost of car insurance in the United States is only $907 per year, which is much more affordable than being caught without it. The best way to find an affordable policy is to shop around.

Ask different agents for different discounts. Retired drivers and those who drive infrequently are often given low-mileage discounts.

You can pay your policy in full every year to avoid the monthly fees and receive approximately 5% off the total cost of your premium.

If you have more than one car, insuring them on the same policy makes you eligible for a multi-car discount.

You can afford insurance in North Carolina, but you cannot afford to go without insurance. Don’t miss out on our free quote tool below! Just enter your ZIP code and start comparing rates now!