North Carolina Car Insurance Requirements

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Car insurance minimums in North Carolina

North Carolina requires two main types of insurance: Liability and uninsured motorist coverage. But many people need more auto insurance than what the state requires. Without proper insurance, you can face lawsuits, and your own car damage won't be covered. Let's look at what's available in North Carolina so you can find the right auto insurance.

Minimum liability insurance:

Liability car insurance pays others for damage and injuries if you cause a crash. If you have assets to protect from a lawsuit, such as a house or savings, you want to buy more than the state-minimum car insurance. In North Carolina you must have liablity coverage for at least:

  • $30,000 bodily injury per person.
  • $60,000 bodily injury per accident.
  • $25,000 property damage per accident.

This is often written as 30/60/25.

Minimum uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage:

North Carolina requires UM coverage and sometimes UIM. These cover you if you're hit by a driver with no liability insurance or not enough. This coverage can be tricky to understand in North Carolina. Let's untangle the requirements:

  • UM is required in North Carolina. It covers your injuries and property damage. The minimum UM coverage is $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident for injuries (30/60) and $25,000 for property damage.
  • If you buy a policy with only the state minimum in liability insurance, you must have UM, but UIM is not required. If you buy a policy with liability limits higher than the state minimum, you must get both UM and UIM.
  • UIM covers only your injuries caused by a driver without enough insurance. It doesn't cover your property damage, like UM does. The minimum UIM coverage is 30/60.
  • In North Carolina you can "stack" insurance if you have multiple policies with UM coverage. That means you can make claims for UM from more than one policy, for one accident. This lets you get more money. Here's more about stacked insurance.

Optional auto insurance in North Carolina

Medical payments (MedPay): This covers medical and funeral expenses for you, your family or anyone riding in your vehicle, no matter who causes an accident. MedPay also covers medical and funeral expenses if you're a pedestrian and struck by a car. The MedPay coverage limit you choose will apply to each passenger in your car. For example, if you buy $5,000 in MedPay and there are three people in your car during an accident, each gets coverage up to $5,000, for a total of $15,000.

Comprehensive and collision coverage: These are optional but you may be required to have them if you have a car loan or lease. They cover damage to your vehicle from hitting another person's car, hitting an animal, hail, flood, fire, vandalism, falling objects, earthquakes and explosions. Comprehensive coverage is also for car theft.

Rental reimbursement: This pays for a rental car if your vehicle is being repaired for damage from an accident.

   More: Cheap car insurance in North Carolina

You must show an insurance ID card (or other proof of financial responsibility) in North Carolina when:

  • You renew vehicle registration.

Penalties for not having car insurance in North Carolina

  • First offense: $50 fine and revocation of vehicle registration for 30 days.
  • Second offense within three years: $100 and registration revocation.
  • Third offense: $150 fine and registration revocation.

Source: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

Complaints against auto insurance companies

Each state has a department of insurance that handles complaints against insurance companies. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners uses state data to make a"complaint ratio." It shows the number of complaints against a company relative to its amount of business.

North Carolina auto insurance complaints

DWI laws in North Carolina

Drivers in North Carolina with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher, or under the influence or affected by alcohol and/or drugs, may be subject to these fines and penalties.

First offense

The first DWI offense is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. If convicted, you could face the following fines and penalties.

Minimum punishment:

  • Up to a $200 fine.
  • 24 hours imprisonment.
  • 24 hours of community service.
  • Any combination of the above.

Maximum punishment:

  • A fine up to $4,000.
  • Imprisonment of no less than 30 days or more than 24 months.

Additional penalties:

  • Mandatory revocation of your driver's license for one year.
  • Once your driver's license is restored, your legally allowed alcohol concentration will be lowered to .04 for three years.
  • For one year, you will be required to have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle at your own expense.

If your BAC was .15 or higher:

  • All driving privileges immediately suspended for 45 days.
  • At the end of 45 days, a judge may issue a limited driving privilege which will allow you to drive to and from your place of employment, school, court-ordered treatment or substance abuse education and any ignition interlock facility.

Second offense

The second offense is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face:

Minimum punishment:

  • A fine up to $2,000.
  • Imprisonment no less than seven days or more than 12 months.

Maximum punishment:

  • Fine up to $4,000.
  • Imprisonment of no less than 30 days or more than 24 months.


  • Mandatory driver's license revocation for four years if you're convicted within three years of the first offense.
  • Once your driver's license is restored, your legally allowed alcohol concentration will be lowered to 0.00 for seven years.
  • Is a second offense occurs within seven years of the first conviction, all driving will be prohibited for at least one year and no limited driving privilege will be issued.
  • You will be required to have an ignition interlock for three years.

Third offense

The third offense is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face:

  • A fine up to $10,000.
  • Imprisonment for 12 to 36 months.
  • Mandatory permanent driver's license revocation when at least one of the prior convictions was in the last five years.
  • If your driver's license is restored, you will be required to have an ignition interlock in your vehicle for seven years.

Fourth and subsequent offenses

The fourth and subsequent offenses within 10 years are class F felonies. If convicted, you may face:

  • Minimum punishment 12 months imprisonment.
  • Maximum punishment is 59 months imprisonment and a fine.
  • Mandatory permanent lifetime driver license revocation with no limited driving privileges for at least 10 years.

Chemical test refusal in North Carolina

If you refuse to be tested when asked in North Carolina, your license will be immediately revoked for at least 30 days, plus the charging officer can require you to provide a blood sample for testing and you do not have the right to refuse.

The DMV could revoke your license for up to one year, in addition to the 30-day pretrial revocation.

DWI penalty source: North Carolina Governors Highway Safety Program and the National Conference of State Legislatures

Distracted driving laws in North Carolina

Prohibits drivers from using hand-held cell phone while driving


All cellphone ban

Only school bus drivers

All cellphone use banned for novice drivers

Drivers under age 18

Text messaging ban while driving

All drivers

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

Updated Aug. 13 2018

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