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Best car insurance companies in North Carolina

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

    Article Highlights

    If you live in North Carolina, you’re in luck: the state average for car insurance is relatively low, at $1,378 a year for full coverage — decently below the national average of $1,555 a year. Minimum liability coverage is also less than the national average ($545/year) — just $444 a year in North Carolina. This article explores auto insurance  rates for North Carolina drivers, how rates can be affected, and what to consider for coverages based on this state’s unique factors.

    Some of the factors that influence insurance rates in North Carolina include the following:

    • Only 6.5% of NC drivers are uninsured, leading to lower rates for everyone. The national average is more than twice that, at 13%, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
    • Turbulent weather can play a role in increased rates: North Carolina is in the path of Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, which can cause extensive damage to vehicles.
    • In 2017, there were more than 275,000 accidents in NC, which is 40,000 more than the average from 2012-2016. Rising accident rates typically reflect increased car insurance rates.

    While the state averages for full and minimum coverage can give you an idea of how the state stacks up with the rest of the U.S., there are multiple factors that impact your exact rate. These include the type and year of car you’re driving, as well as personal characteristics such as your age, gender and marital status. Your driving skills also play a role, as demonstrated in the table below.

    Clean record1 speeding ticket1 accident
    Full coverage$1,378 $1,977$2,103
    Minimum coverage$444$639$685

    To help compare providers, Coverage compiled a list of our picks for best auto insurance providers in North Carolina and have provided a range of average rates for each, depending on where in the state you live. This should help you in your search for North Carolina car insurance providers.

    Top 5 insurance providers in North Carolina

    • State Farm — Best for low rates
    • GEICO — Best customer service
    • Allstate — Best for discounts
    • NC Farm Bureau — Best for local knowledge
    • Progressive — Best online quote tool
    CompanyJ.D. PowerAM BestDiscounts offeredAverage rate
    Allstate3/5A- (Excellent)Smart student, new car$1,531
    GEICO3/5A+ (Superior)Defensive driving, multi-vehicle$1,082
    Erie3/5A+ (Superior)Vehicle storage, safety features$1,168
    MetLife3/5B++ (Good)Mature driver, restricted mileage$1,449
    Nationwide3/5A+ (Superior)Accident-free, affinity member$1,394
    NC Farm BureauNAA(Excellent)NA$1,195
    Penn NationalNAA-(Excellent)Multi-policy, paying in full$1,559
    Progressive3/5A+ (Superior)Safe driver, online quote$1,567
    State Farm4/5A++ (Superior)Young driver, accident-free$1,009

    Quadrant Information Services, 2020

    State Farm — Best for low rates

    Of the best insurance companies in NC, State Farm gave us the lowest average yearly rate for full coverage, at $1,009. This is well below North Carolina’s already low average annual rate of $1,378 for full coverage, and that’s not the only advantage State Farm offers. The company writes more policies in the U.S. than anyone else, and they have the best possible rating from AM Best, which indicates excellent financial strength.

    GEICO — Best customer service

    GEICO scores near the top of the list of the 2019 J.D. Power ratings for auto insurance customer satisfaction. The company generally offers reasonable premiums, so although your rate may vary from the average for North Carolina, you can expect it to likely be on the affordable side. Having good financial strength ratings and a wide range of coverage options are added bonuses with GEICO.

    Allstate — Best for discounts

    The average rates for full coverage in North Carolina with Allstate are on the high side, but that doesn’t take into account discounts — many of which are easily earned: anti-lock brakes, for example, and a responsible payer discount if you pay your bill on time. Allstate has several discounts for young and student drivers, and its telematics program — Drivewise — will provide additional savings if you practice safe driving behavior.

    NC Farm Bureau — Best for local knowledge

    As a regional provider, NC Farm Bureau doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the bigger companies do. But since this provider is focused on just one part of the country, NC Farm Bureau has a knowledge of the region that enables them to understand the needs of North Carolina’s drivers. 

    Progressive — Best online quote tool

    Progressive makes it easy to manage your car insurance right from the start. Its online Name Your Price tool will give you an idea of coverage options that work for your specific budget. You can adjust coverage and costs until the quote accurately reflects what you’d like as far as auto protection and what you’re willing to pay for.

    Car insurance in North Carolina by city

    Where you live can have a high impact on the amount you pay for the best car insurance in North Carolina. Since accidents happen more frequently in highly-populated areas than they do in rural regions, you’ll often pay a higher rate for car insurance if you live in a major or populous city. 

    CityFull coverage annual rateMinimum coverage annual rate
    Charlotte$1,560$570
    Durham$1,358$447
    Greensboro$1,337$451
    Raleigh$1,341$472
    Winston-Salem$1,221$404

    Charlotte

    As the largest city in North Carolina, it’s not surprising that auto insurance companies charge higher rates for those who live in this city. The average full coverage premium in Charlotte is $1,560 a year, which is $182 higher than the state average and the highest on our list. Charlotte has a well-developed transportation infrastructure, but since 82% of the population typically commutes to work, heavy traffic typically correlates to higher risk of accidents, ultimately affecting rates.

    Durham

    Durham is closer to the North Carolina shoreline, which can cause premiums to increase to compensate for inclement weather risks. However, Durham’s average annual rates for full coverage is $1,358, placing it just below the state average. The city’s population is 278,993, but it is spread out over a large area, leading to fewer accidents.

    Greensboro

    Greensboro, North Carolina’s third largest city, has just under 300,000 residents. The average driver pays $1,337 a year for full coverage, which is just $41 below the state average. Greensboro has had issues with violent crime in the past, which can cause rates to be less competitive compared to other cities.

    Raleigh

    Raleigh’s car insurance rates average $1,341 annually for full coverage, making it one of the more affordable cities for auto insurance in North Carolina. It’s the second-largest city in the state, but the population density doesn’t seem to have created an upswing in insurance rates. 

    Winston-Salem

    Of the five cities we looked at, Winston-Salem had the lowest rates, with an average of $1,221. The city is relatively far from the coast, so it is less likely to be subject to hurricanes and bad weather. It’s also the smallest city, with 247,945 residents. Both of these factors may contribute to the lower premiums.

    North Carolina car insurance considerations

    Weather conditions in North Carolina may impact your car insurance rates, especially in coastal areas. Comprehensive coverage is the portion of your policy that pays on claims from non-accident-related events. So if your car is damaged because a tree falls on it during a storm, you would be able to file a claim only if you had comprehensive coverage.

    Collision coverage would come into play if you are in a two-car accident that’s caused by slippery roads during the storm. Neither comprehensive nor collision is required in North Carolina — both are optional forms of coverage — but are smart choices if your car experiences a weather-related accident.

    On the other hand, the low rate of uninsured and underinsured motorists helps keep policies reasonable, as does the fact that North Carolina is not a no-fault state, meaning that you don’t need to have personal Injury protection (PIP) insurance to drive legally.

    What is PJC and when should it be used?

    You may see the acronym “PJC” related to driving issues in North Carolina. This stands for Prayer for Judgment Continued. A PJC is granted by a judge in the case of vehicle violations such as speeding tickets or running a red light. The PJC continues the judgment — which means you won’t get points taken off or face a fine if it is granted. With some restrictions, you are entitled to use a PJC twice every five years for DMV purposes (points on your license) and one every three years for insurance purposes (having your rates raised).

    North Carolina minimum liability requirements

    Most U.S. states require a minimum amount of insurance in order to drive legally. In every case, this includes liability coverage, which pays for damages to the other driver’s car or injuries to the other driver or passengers in an accident. 

    In North Carolina, your minimum insurance liabilities are listed as 30/60/25, or:

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

    How we chose the best car insurance providers in North Carolina

    We chose the best auto insurance providers in North Carolina by looking for low rates and a generous selection of discounts. We also studied independent organization ratings, such as J.D. Power and AM Best, which rank providers for consumer service and financial strength. We also looked at companies that offered the best online experience and most comprehensive resources for policyholders. 

    Other car insurance providers in North Carolina to consider

    No single provider is the best auto insurance option in North Carolina for everyone, so it pays to get quotes from a number of companies to see who has the best rates for your own circumstances. These companies are also worth considering when comparing rates for your needs.

    Erie Insurance

    Erie Insurance scores well for its customer service as well as for financial strength. The company’s rates for North Carolina are on the low end, and they include unusual options such as vet care for your pet if it’s injured in an accident and roadside emergency service.

    MetLife 

    MetLife’s average rate for North Carolina drivers is $1,449 annually for full coverage. The company has a good score from J.D. Power for customer service and an equally good rating from AM Best — but both are merely good, not great. MetLife offers a few unique discounts, including one for mature drivers.

    Nationwide

    Nationwide’s average annual rate is in the middle of the pack for North Carolina drivers, at $1,394 for full coverage. The company offers accident forgiveness, and a safe driver program called SmartRide, which gives you a 10% discount for signing up, as well as the possibility of up to 25% off if you’re a good driver.

    Penn National

    Penn National’s average full coverage rate in North Carolina is $1,567 annually, which is a bit high. But the company offers a variety of easy-to-earn discounts, and its claim services are attractive to policyholders. It is financially solid, and for a smaller company, has a sophisticated website and mobile app.

    Methodology

    Coverage utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze quoted rates from thousands of ZIP codes across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., using the top 15 carriers by premiums written by state. Quoted rates are based around the profiles of a 30-year-male and female with clean driving records, good credit and the following full coverage details:

    • $100k bodily injury liability per person
    • $300k bodily injury liability coverage per crash
    • $100k property damage liability coverage per crash
    • $500 collision coverage deductible
    • $500 comprehensive coverage deductible

    Minimum coverages were applied to match state requirements. Both drivers used a new, financed 2018 Toyota Camry, commuting 5 days a week and driving 12,000 miles per year.

    Mary Van Keuren

    After 30 years as a writer and editor in academia, Mary now writes full-time for the insurance and finance industries. Her work has appeared on Reviews.com, TheSimpleDollar.com and Bankrate.com, as well as other consumer-focused websites.

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