North Carolina drivers pay relatively low premiums — only $789 compared to the nationwide average of $1,009 — and although the national average has gone up by 20% since 2011, North Carolinians have fared better than most. In fact, North Carolina saw the smallest insurance rate increase of any state in the country.

Finding the best auto insurance in North Carolina is still same as it is in any other state, though: you’ll want to contact multiple insurers, compare quotes, and see how many discounts you qualify for. Some insurers might reduce your premium if you drive a hybrid car, or give you a discount if you pay your entire premium in full every year instead of splitting up the cost by month. Our guide to the top insurers in the state will give you several options to consider as you look for the best car insurance for you.

North Carolina Minimum Liability

Here’s the minimum amount of insurance you need to drive in North Carolina:

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

These numbers are often shortened to 30/60/25.

The state of North Carolina also requires your to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This protects you if you’re in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance: An underinsured motorist might have minimum 30/60/25 coverage but cause an accident that costs more than this. With underinsured motorist insurance, your insurance company helps make up the difference.

This doesn’t mean you should get the minimum insurance coverage and let someone else’s insurance take care of your accidents, though. Underinsured motorist insurance helps to make up the coverage difference, but if you’re at fault in an accident and your insurance doesn’t cover the damage, you could get sued for the additional costs.

You’ll also want to consider optional insurance coverages, such as collision insurance (which helps pay to repair your car if you drive it into, say, a tree) and comprehensive insurance (which helps you get a new car if yours gets stolen). Review all of the insurance options available to you and talk to insurance agents about which options are a good fit. You can start by checking out the rates and packages of our top picks for North Carolina auto insurance.

The Best Auto Insurance Companies in North Carolina

Geico

Geico was our top pick when we reviewed national auto insurance providers and it performed equally well in North Carolina. The company received an A++ financial rating from A.M. Best, indicating a superior level of financial stability (and ability to pay out on your claims); it also received 3 out of 5 points for overall experience and 4 out of 5 points for claims experience from JD Power — plus a Very Good rating for claims process and an Excellent rating for speedy claims payment from Consumer Reports. These ratings indicate a high level of reliable, professional customer service.

Geico’s coverage options include everything from your standard comprehensive/collision/liability coverages to the more optional roadside assistance and rental reimbursement coverages. (If you drive your car into a ditch, roadside assistance will help get you out and rental reimbursement will help cover the cost of the rental car you use to get to work that week.) Geico also offers a unique hybrid policy for Uber and Lyft drivers. This policy replaces your personal auto insurance with a more comprehensive policy that provides coverage both while you're working and while you're driving for personal reasons.

Geico offers a long list of discounts — more than any of our other top providers. You can save money on your car insurance for doing things as simple as using your daytime running lights or buckling your seatbelt. You can also earn discounts for completing a defensive driving course, remaining accident-free for five years, and being a member of the military, among many other options. Geico is known for offering some of the lowest quotes in the business, and its discounts are the secret to its success. We’d suggest getting a quote and seeing how many discounts you qualify for.

State Farm

State Farm holds the distinction of being the largest insurance provider in North Carolina. (It also received an honorable mention in our nationwide auto insurance review .) Like Geico, State Farm earned an A++ financial stability rating from A.M. Best, as well as a Very Good rating for claims process and an Excellent rating for claims payment speed from Consumer Reports. JD Power did give State Farm slightly lower rankings than Geico (3 out of 5 points for both overall experience and claims experience), but in total, State Farm offers a positive customer experience.

State Farm offers a slightly more limited range of coverage options than Geico, though it does include rideshare coverage as an addition to your personal policy. If you drive for Uber or Lyft, you’ll want to compare this option against Geico's hybrid policy.

State Farm also offers almost as many discounts as Geico — including the option to increase your discount by signing up for the company’s Drive Safe and Save program. Let State Farm track your driving in real time (either through your mobile phone or through OnStar) and the safer you drive, the higher your discount: You can earn up to 50 percent off your premium.

Allstate

Like State Farm, Allstate received an honorable mention in our nationwide review of auto insurance providers. Allstate earned an A+ financial stability rating from A.M. Best — not as high as Geico or State Farm, but still good — and, like Geico and State Farm, Allstate received a Very Good rating for claims process and an Excellent rating for claims payment speed from Consumer Reports. However, JD Power gave Allstate relatively low rankings: a disappointing 2 out of 5 for overall experience and a 3 out of 5 for claims experience.

Allstate does offer a few more coverage options than Geico, including the option to insure your car’s sound system (which is usually excluded from insurance policies) and the option to purchase rideshare coverage as part of your personal policy. Allstate recently partnered with Uber to offer commercial auto insurance to Uber drivers as well, though North Carolinians won’t be able to take advantage of this new insurance policy for a while; it’s getting rolled out in Illinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin before expanding to the rest of the United States.

Allstate offers a wide range of discounts — on par with State Farm — and like State Farm, Allstate gives you the opportunity to save even more through its Drivewise program. Drivewise tracks your driving through your mobile device and calculates your discount based on your safe driving habits. With Drivewise, you’ll get your discount as cash back every six months rather than a premium reduction; you can earn up to 25 percent cash back, and you also have the opportunity to earn points that you can use toward purchases from brands like Samsung or Nike.

Allstate also offers the opportunity to reduce your deductible through its Deductible Rewards program. For every accident-free year you drive, you get $100 off your deductible, up to a $500 maximum. Since you have to pay your full deductible out of pocket before you can file a claim with your insurer, lowering that deductible as much as possible is a great way to save money.

Nationwide

Nationwide has decent all-around ratings. It joins Allstate in receiving an A+ financial stability rating from A.M. Best; it also joins the club with a Very Good rating for claims process and an Excellent rating for speedy claims payment from Consumer Reports. (We’re really curious about what these top insurers need to do to get an Excellent rating on their claims processes!) Nationwide’s JD Power scores are a respectable 3 out of 3 points for both overall experience and claims experience.

You won’t get rideshare insurance from Nationwide, but it does stand out for offering vanishing deductible insurance, which, like Allstate’s Deductible Rewards, takes $100 off your deductible for every year of safe driving (with a $500 maximum).

Nationwide doesn’t offer drivers a lot of other ways to save money — it only offers half the discounts Geico does — but safe drivers will want to consider signing up for Nationwide’s SmartRide program. Like the programs offered by State Farm and Allstate, Nationwide’s SmartRide tracks your driving through a small device that you plug into your car and can earn you up to 40 percent in discounts if you practice safe driving habits. Unlike Drive Safe and Save and Drivewise, however, Nationwide’s SmartRide is a limited time program. You get the device for 4 to 6 months, and after that you’re stuck with the discount you’ve earned — there’s no opportunity to increase your discount by improving your driving.

North Carolina Farm Bureau

The North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Group is a relatively small insurer that serves the state of North Carolina. It got high marks for customer service — JD Power gave it a 4 for overall experience and an outstanding 5 for claims experience — but A.M. Best only gave it an A for financial stability, the lowest rating of any of the insurers on our list. (North Carolina Farm Bureau is small enough that it didn’t get reviewed by Consumer Reports.)

Like many locally-based insurers, North Carolina Farm Bureau doesn’t provide much information on its website about its coverage options. Its goal is to get you talking to a friendly local agent — you can’t even apply for a quote online. You can learn a little bit about some of the discounts you might qualify for, including discounts for married couples and a property discount if your home is also insured with North Carolina Farm Bureau. However, if you want to know whether this insurer is right for you, you’re going to have to give them a call.

Other Things to Know Before Buying North Carolina Auto Insurance

Driving fewer miles won’t save you that much money.

Some insurers will reduce your premiums if you spend less time behind the wheel — but don’t try to ration your driving to get a better rate. For every 5,000 fewer miles behind the wheel, CBS News found that North Carolina drivers get less than a 1 percent premium deduction.

The more SDIP points you earn, the more you’ll have to pay.

The North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP) is a state-backed program that penalizes drivers with points for bad driving — everything from minor traffic violations to major accidents. The more points you earn, the higher your insurance rate becomes. If you get caught driving up to 10 mph over the speed limit in a zone where the speed limit is less than 55 mph, for example, you get 1 point and your rate goes up by 30%. If the speed limit is over 55 mph, you earn 2 points and your rate goes up by 45%. Points stay on your record for three years. Take the time to learn about the driving practices that can incur points — and then try not to earn them!