The Best Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina [2021 Edition]
If you’re looking for affordable car insurance in NC, you’re in luck. The Tar Heel State has some of the lowest average premiums in the US. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around to find a bargain.
To help you do that, we ranked the best and the cheapest insurers in North Carolina. We requested quotes for multiple driver categories to verify the prices—but we also considered other parameters, such as the top rankings in customer service and financial strength. Furthermore, we compared prices in the eight biggest cities in North Carolina. If you want to find the best and the least expensive car insurance in the Tar Heel State, learn how its insurance system works, or explore the relevant insurance laws, we have everything you’ll need.
The Cheapest and the Best Car Insurance in NC
- Overall Winner: Erie Insurance
- Runner Up: Amica Insurance
- Cheapest Option: Progressive Insurance
- Best for High-Risk Drivers: NC Farm Bureau Insurance
- Top Choice for Military: USAA Insurance
- Best for Financial Strength: Geico Insurance
The Overall Winner: Erie Insurance
Although there were many worthy pretenders, Erie stands out as the best insurer in North Carolina. For starters, it is ranked third in the J.D. Power’s 2019 list for the North Carolina region. The rating speaks to the company’s commitment to put its customers first.
Additionally, Erie’s A. M. Best Rating, which indicates a company’s financial strength, is “A+,” or “Superior.” That’s the second best result possible, meaning Erie is capable of paying customer claims. On top of that, Erie offers some excellent optional features, like Rate Lock, which keeps your rate the same unless you make substantial changes to your policy or commit a major traffic violation.
Finally, the best news about Erie is that it’s the second cheapest car insurance company in NC. Only Progressive is more affordable, especially for high-risk drivers. However, Erie outperforms it in almost every department. The only disadvantage of Erie is that its online solutions are nowhere near those of the major players like State Farm. For instance, the company doesn’t even offer a mobile app. However, for low prices and superior customer service, it’s hard to look past Erie.
Choose Erie for first-class customer service and affordable prices.
Look elsewhere if you want the polished online tools that bigger insurers offer.
The Runner Up: Amica Insurance
What we said about Erie holds true with Amica. The company is ranked first in customer satisfaction in the 2019’s J.D. Power national study. But that’s not all. For those looking for affordable car insurance, NC drivers should also put Amica near the top of their list. Amica isn’t as cheap as Progressive or Erie, but it’s rates are still quite reasonable. Finally, Amica’s A. M. Best rating is also same as Erie (A+), confirming the company has the means to pay claims.
On the downside, our Amica review notes that the company doesn’t offer as many optional coverages as the bigger players. Nonetheless, it’s still among the finest car insurers in North Carolina.
Choose Amica for excellent customer service and reasonable prices.
Look elsewhere if you want a variety of optional coverages.
The Cheapest Option: Progressive Insurance
If you are working on a tight budget, Progressive should be your number one option. The company offers the cheapest car insurance in NC for new and experienced drivers alike. And it’s not just affordable prices that make Progressive an excellent pick. The company is a well-established insurer with a reputation for its willingness to cover high-risk customers. Being such a large insurer means that Progressive has excellent financial strength, which its A. M. Best rating of “A+” only confirms.
Along with providing the cheapest car insurance in NC, Progressive offers many excellent features, like its Name Your Price Tool. It lets you choose how much you’d like to pay for car insurance, and the AI offers the best coverage for you. You can also customize it to suit your needs.
However, like all the big insurers, Progressive gets only mediocre results in the customer service department. It’s J.D. Power rating is two out of five stars in North Carolina. However, you’ll have to make a compromise somewhere. If you want the lowest prices, particularly if you’re a high-risk customer, it’s hard to look past Progressive.
Choose Progressive for the lowest rates in NC.
Look elsewhere if you want the most reliable customer service.
Best for High-Risk Drivers: NC Farm Bureau Insurance
It’s usually Progressive that takes this coveted award in our state guides. However, NC Farm Bureau Insurance offers the best auto insurance quotes in NC for drivers that are a greater liability. That doesn’t mean you should skip Progressive if you fall into this category, but NC Farm Bureau offers lower prices and ranks significantly better customer service, earning the fourth overall rank in customer service in North Carolina region.
Nonetheless, it suffers from all the symptoms that plague smaller insurance companies. For starters, NC Farm Bureau doesn’t offer as many optional coverages or advanced features as the big insurers. Additionally, it’s A. M. Best rating is “A” or “Excellent.” While this result indicates solid financial strength, the competition usually outperforms the NC Farm Bureau in this area. Despite these issues, we still think that the NC Farm Bureau is a smart choice for high-risk drivers and those looking for affordable car insurance in NC.
Choose NC Farm Bureau for affordable prices, particularly for high-risk drivers.
Look elsewhere if you want more optional coverages or a financially stronger insurer.
The Best for Military: USAA Insurance
Except in our Oregon guide, USAA is among the highest-rated insurers in each of our state-wide studies. The situation is similar in North Carolina. However, we should first mention that USAA sells its insurance only to former and current US army members and their close families. But for that particular category, it’s hard to beat.
In addition to its many optional coverages and discounts, USAA offers some of the cheapest car insurance quotes NC drivers can get. Its website and mobile app are top-notch. On top of that, USAA has the strongest A. M. Best rating: “A++,” or “Superior.” Finally, USAA gets a full five stars and the highest possible scores in the 2019 J.D. Power studies on the national and regional level. Simply put, if you’re eligible, USAA is a stupendous choice.
Choose USAA for its superior overall performance.
Look elsewhere if you are not a US army member or a close relative.
The Best for Financial Strength: Geico Insurance
If you’re looking for a financially stable insurer that also performs well across the board, Geico should be on top of your list. Its A. M. Best rating is the strongest possible, “A++.” Additionally, Geico’s a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the third US company on 2018’s Fortune 500 list.
It’s not just superior financial strength that makes Geico a top pick. The company offers some of the lowest car insurance prices in North Carolina. You can also add market-leading online tools and a sufficient number of discounts and optional coverages among Geico’s advantages. Finally, while its scores in customer service aren’t brilliant, Geico still holds a higher rank than several top-level players, like Progressive, Allstate, and Nationwide. Overall, Geico is a strong pick for any customer.
Choose Geico for affordable prices and first-rate financial strength.
Look elsewhere if you want the finest customer service.
Cheap Car Insurance in NC by City
Car insurance prices vary substantially depending on where you call home. To verify how much premiums cost in each city, we gathered quotes with full coverage limits from all the major insurance companies in North Carolina. We opted for the full coverage instead of the legal minimum since we think this option provides much better protection for a relatively small price hike. We would advise any customer who can afford full coverage to do so when getting their auto insurance quotes in NC.
Charlotte is the most populous city in North Carolina and the 17th most populous one in the US. King George III named the town “Charlotte” after his wife, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
The city ranks as a “gamma” global metropolis with many big corporations located there. One of them is Bank of America, which has its headquarters in Charlotte. The city is also a hub for NASCAR diehards. The Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts three of NASCAR’s most significant yearly events: the Bank of America 500, the Coca-Cola 600, and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
When it comes to car insurance in Charlotte, NC, Erie stands out as the best option. It offers first-rate customer service and quite affordable prices. Progressive, Geico, and Nationwide are also affordable alternatives with an excellent overall performance. If superior customer service is your cup of tea, Auto-Owners should be on your shortlist too.
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and the second largest city in the state. The town is famous for the oak trees that line its streets, often called the “City of Oaks.” Raleigh is also celebrated for its diverse music and arts scene. It’s home to many operas, theaters, and symphonies, drawing many visitors annually. The city also hosts one of the most prominent technological research centers in the US, which is used by IBM, Lenovo, and Cisco, among others.
Auto insurance prices in Raleigh, NC, are higher than in smaller cities but still very reasonable. Erie stands out as the best option. Amica, Geico, and Progressive are all viable alternatives to Erie. Additionally, if you want a company that provides excellent customer service, Auto-Owners is worth checking out.
Greensboro is the third most populous city in NC and home to many notable tourist attractions. Those looking to satisfy their curiosity should visit the Greensboro Science Center, a science museum with a zoological park. Visitors who prefer an adrenaline-filled adventure should stop by Wet ’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park, which has an 85-foot-wide wave pool. Finally, history buffs will enjoy the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which commemorates the Greensboro sit-ins.
Those looking for affordable car insurance in NC have many options in Greensboro. Erie combines excellent customer satisfaction and cheap coverage, making it the best choice. For first-rate customer service, Amica and Auto-Owners are viable alternatives. Those working on a tight budget should consider Nationwide, Geico, and Progressive too.
Durham is the fourth most populous city in North Carolina and the 78th most populous city in the United States. Many students call it home—Duke University and North Carolina Central University are located there. Those thirsty for knowledge can visit the city’s Museum of Life and Science, which hosts a kids-friendly exhibition of dinosaurs, railways, and space stations.
Durham’s median costs of auto insurance are way below the average car insurance prices in NC. Erie and Amica, our two overall best companies in NC are also the finest choices in Durham. Progressive and Geico are also worth considering since they’re quite affordable and offer all the advantages expected of the bigger insurers, like polished online tools and excellent financial strength.
Winston–Salem formed when the cities of Winston and Salem merged in 1913 after a referendum. The United States Post Office Department had a major role in the merger since it established the Winston-Salem Post Office located in Winston, using its Salem office as a branch. The city has many nicknames, such as “Twin City” and “Camel City,” because of the connections with R. J. Reynolds’s tobacco company “Camel.” Perhaps the quirkiest is “The Dash,” referring to the dash in the town’s name.
If you’re looking for cheap car insurance in NC, you’ll have several options in Winston-Salem. As usual, Erie and Amica offer a combination of low prices and reliable customer service that’s hard to find, while Progressive and Geico stick out as the most affordable companies. Even Nationwide can be a great choice due to its low rates and impressive family discounts.
Fayetteville is perhaps most famous for the Fort Bragg military installation that borders the city. It’s the largest military base in the world with more than 50,000 active personnel. Fayetteville was also the winner of the All-America City Award from the National Civic League three times. It’s an award that recognizes the work of local communities and authorities in strengthening connections between citizens and local business owners.
Coverage in Fayetteville is even more expensive than automobile insurance in Charlotte, NC, meaning the city has the highest prices in the state. This could be due to the many military personnel located nearby. They’re usually rated as high-risk drivers, meaning they drive the average price of car insurance up. Geico is the cheapest option, while Progressive and Erie are still quite affordable. Perhaps the latter is the top pick due to its excellent results in customer service.
Cary is one of the greener cities in the US, with 80 miles of paved greenways and 2,688 acres of parks. Also, many notable corporations, such as Caterpillar, MetLife, Oxford University Press, and American Airlines have regional headquarters in Cary. However, the city’s top employer is the SAS Institute, which is the largest privately owned software developer in the world.
When we got auto insurance quotes in Cary, NC, we were pleasantly surprised by the low rates. Our top two options would be Amica and Erie, due to their superior scores in customer service. We would also consider Nationwide, Progressive, and Geico. Their results in customer satisfaction may not be as good, but they’re big insurers with excellent online tools and superior financial strength.
Wilmington is the eighth most populous town in North Carolina. Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington, gave the city its name. Wilmington has a beautiful riverfront, which USA Today readers ranked as the Best American Riverfront in 2014. Wilmington also hosts EUE Screen Gems Studios, which is the largest US television and movie production factory outside California. Movies such as Iron Man 3 and Overdrive were produced there.
Wilmington has low car insurance prices compared to other North Carolina cities. Erie offers the best combination of affordability and reliable customer service, which together helps makes it our top pick. Amica is more expensive, so it must occupy the second place on our list. Below these two, we would rank Geico, Progressive, and Nationwide, in that order.
North Carolina Auto Insurance Laws
North Carolina’s Minimum Insurance Requirements
These limits are the minimums any car insurance policy in NC must have:
– Bodily Injury Liability – $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident
This coverage pays for the injuries you’ve caused to others in an at-fault accident (it may include other medical-related expenses too, like lost income or legal fees if the injured party sues you).
– Property Damage Liability – $25,000 per accident
This covers any damage you caused to another person’s property in an at-fault accident. Usually, that property is their car, but it can include personal belongings such as tablets, watches, or stationary objects like fences and mailboxes.
– Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury – $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident
This auto insurance coverage for NC residents pays the medical expenses for injuries you suffered from being hit by a driver without auto insurance or with insufficient coverage.
– Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage – $25,000 per accident
This coverage pays for any property damage you suffered (including your car) from being hit by a driver with no auto insurance or with insufficient coverage
SR22 Insurance in NC
SR22 isn’t a type of insurance but a certificate that your insurance company has to fill out and send to the nearest DMV after a severe violation. It shows that your auto insurance policy has sufficient limits. You need an SR22 form after violations like driving under the influence or inflicting bodily injury in an at-fault accident.
North Carolina does not require an SR22 form. According to the local DMV, you’ll only need an SR22 with your car insurance policy in NC if you moved to NC and had to provide SR22 in another state. North Carolina uses a DL123 form instead for reinstating a policy after a severe moving violation or DUI charges. It functions similarly to an SR22, but it’s valid only for 30 days, and it’s used as a one-time certificate.
Driving in NC When You Aren’t a Full-Time Resident
According to AAA’s guide on driving laws, North Carolina has reciprocal laws for out-of-state drivers. They can spend the same time in North Carolina without getting an NC license that residents would spend in their previous state before having to get that state’s license.
North Carolina isn’t a no-fault state, meaning the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is the only mandatory coverage that pays for medical expenses. Nevertheless, your NC car insurance policy can still include MedPay, or you could rely on your regular health insurance in some instances. Keep in mind that some health insurance policies may carry an endorsement that excludes vehicle-related payouts.
Although the absence of no-fault insurance makes getting reimbursed for medical expenses more difficult, we prefer it this way. Research into car insurance prices indicates that the no-fault system substantially increases auto insurance costs. The worst offender is Michigan, which has a limitless no-fault system that lead to the highest average car insurance prices in the US.
The North Carolina authorities have taken no action against price optimization thus far. This means that auto insurance companies in NC aren’t restricted only to underwriting factors when determining their rates. This allows them to create multiple customer profiles and use advanced software like Earnix to calculate how much each potential customer is willing to pay for their products. Then, they’ll to creep your premium up now and then if they think you aren’t likely to switch to a different insurer. That’s why it’s paramount to shop around at every renewal. It’s likely that your insurer will find out that you’re looking at other offers and present their best deal to keep you as a customer.
Tips for Finding Cheap NC Auto Insurance
Compare Multiple Quotes
Comparing quotes at every renewal term does more than just help you avoid being a victim of price optimization. Every insurer has its method of calculating premiums, meaning a driver with the same profile may get vastly different offers from different companies. Furthermore, some insurers, like Geico and Progressive, have more aggressive market strategies, which is reflected in their lower prices. Additionally, regional insurers often focus on affordable basic coverages while bigger companies like State Farm offer more options at a higher price. For all these reasons, the only way to get affordable coverage is to make a car insurance quotes comparison among the NC companies.
Cheap coverage is not necessarily good coverage. Still, there are many high-quality, affordable companies. Reading car insurance reviews will help you sort the wheat from the chaff. You’ll learn how each insurer scores in customer service and financial strength, and what discounts and optional coverages they offer.
Once you know how each company performs, make a list of those that are the best for you and request quotes from all of them. Don’t overdo it, but your auto insurance quotes comparison in NC should include at least five different insurers. The whole ordeal shouldn’t take more than one afternoon.
Check the Discounts
Even if you’re shopping with an affordable insurer, you can get an even better deal by taking full advantage of the discounts. Start by exploring different companies and shortlisting only those that offer the discounts you qualify for. Always make sure to select all the car insurance discounts you’re eligible for in NC. If you’re getting an online quote, that’s just a couple of clicks. If you communicate with an agent by phone, remind them to list all the available discounts. Often, it’s even worth taking proactive measures—like enrolling in a defensive driving course or maintaining good grades—to get a higher premium reduction.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much is car insurance in North Carolina?
North Carolina’s average car insurance prices are among the lowest in the US. The average monthly premium is $150. We based this number on research that included quotes from multiple auto insurance providers in NC. Our quote was for full coverage, meaning we selected higher liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist limits than the minimum. Additionally, we purchased comprehensive and collision car insurance, each with a $500 deductible.
2. What is the minimum auto insurance coverage in North Carolina?
The following limits constitute the minimum you can choose on your North Carolina policy:
- Bodily Injury Liability – $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability – $25,000 per accident
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury – $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage – $25,000 per accident
3. What is the grace period for car insurance from the NC Farm Bureau?
While we couldn’t find information on this particular company, most insurers offer a grace period of 10 days.
4. Is North Carolina a no-fault state for car accidents?
No. In this state, it’s the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability that covers medical expenses. You can still purchase MedPay as an optional coverage in NC. It will cover your medical outlays regardless of who was at fault.
5. How much is car insurance in NC for a new driver?
This depends on the company, but auto insurance is usually very expensive for new drivers. Expect to pay around $600 per month for full coverage when you get a policy, and about $180 per month when you reach 21. Check our guides for students and high-risk drivers to find tips on how to get a lower premium if you’re a young customer