The Best North Carolina Auto Insurance Companies
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 still see the cheapest auto insurance rates in the country. Finding the best auto insurance in North Carolina is still the same process as in any other state, though: You’ll want to contact multiple insurers, compare quotes, and see how many discounts you qualify for.
How We Found the Best North Carolina Auto Insurance Companies
We evaluated the largest auto insurance providers in North Carolina using the same methodology we developed for finding the best nationwide auto insurance providers. We looked at the top providers in the state by market share, then browsed financial stability ratings from A.M. Best to determine whether each insurer was reliable enough to pay out your claims. Once we had a grasp on financial stability, we made sure each company consistently provided quality service by checking surveys from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Unlike our review of national providers, we lowered our J.D. Power score threshold to 800 out of 1,000.
To get a sense of the complete package, we also pulled online quotes when we could and evaluated the different types of coverages and discounts offered and whether each provided valuable communication and driving tools (like guidance apps that help you save money). In the end, though, our quotes won’t look like yours, as rates are tailored to your personal information. Because of this, you’ll want to shop around.
The 5 Best Auto Insurance Companies in North Carolina
State Farm — the largest auto insurance provider in the state — made its way to the top of our list because of top-notch financial stability ratings (A++ from A.M. Best) and standout customer service ratings from Consumer Reports. J.D. Power gave it an average three out of five rating for customer satisfaction, but after going through the quote process, we found that State Farm provided an overall positive experience.
After entering your information in the online quote tool, State Farm reveals three different rates (for monthly and yearly payments) right out of the gate, starting at the lowest and working its way up to maximum coverage. Like most of our contenders, you can then fine-tune your rates and select up to 500/500/500, which should provide ample cushioning in the event of a serious accident. However, as your coverage increases, so does the price.
You can always try to offset a higher price by seeking discounts — State Farm offers quite a few for North Carolina, including its Drive Safe and Save program. State Farm automatically applies the discounts for which you qualify when you use its online quote tool, but if you want to see if you can save even more, you’ll need to contact an agent — there’s no live chat tool for quick answers.
Allstate boasts a solid financial stability rating from A.M. Best (A+) and “excellent” marks for ease of reaching an agent and timely payments from Consumer Reports. J.D. Power gives it a below-average two out of five stars for claims and a three out of five for overall experience. That being said, Allstate is still a solid contender, especially when you account for its stake in the North Carolina market as one of the top five auto insurance retailers.
Allstate offers a number of unique coverage items, including the option to insure your car’s sound system (which is usually excluded from insurance policies) and — like State Farm — the ability to purchase ride-share coverage as part of your personal policy. Allstate has also partnered with Uber to offer commercial auto insurance to Uber drivers as well, although North Carolinians won’t be able to take advantage of this just yet; it’s getting rolled out in Illinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin before expanding to the rest of the United States.
The company also offers a wide range of discounts, some of which are automatically applied to your online quote based on the information you provide. Our savings can’t speak for yours, but we were able to shave $215 off our premium by having anti-lock brakes installed, enrolling in its Easy Pay and Drivewise plans, and more. Plus, if you want to trim your deductible even after signing up, Allstate offers a rewards program that will take $100 off your deductible every year you drive without an accident (for up to $500).
- Multiple discounts available to members
- Customize your plan to how you need it
Average customer satisfaction
Nationwide has decent all-around ratings and a sizeable share of the market as the second-largest private passenger provider in North Carolina. It joins Allstate in receiving an A+ financial stability rating from A.M. Best. So, not only will it reliably pay out your claims, you’ll also probably have a positive experience interacting with an agent. With an “Excellent” rating in “agent courtesy” from Consumer Reports and three out of five stars from J.D. Power, Nationwide brings in a solid reputation when it comes to customer service.
Like our other providers, Nationwide lets you choose the amount of coverage you want upon pulling your quote. You’ll see short descriptions of what each provides you, but if you have any further questions, the live chat is made readily available at the bottom of the screen. You won’t get rideshare insurance from Nationwide, but it does stand out for its vanishing deductible offering, which, like Allstate’s Deductible Rewards, takes $100 off your deductible every year you drive without an accident, for up to $500.
We didn’t qualify for quite as many discounts automatically with Nationwide as we did with other providers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. In fact, the company provides a similar incentive app that will help you reach a max of 40% savings if you practice safe driving habits. However, unlike our other picks’ safe driving incentives, this SmartRide program only lasts four to six 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.
The North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Group is a relatively small insurer, but it is one of the top five private passenger writers in the state. J.D. Power gave it the highest rating for claims satisfaction out of all our contenders, plus a three out of five for overall experience in the region. A.M. Best only gave it an A for financial stability, which is 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 detailed 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. But a lack of an online usability isn’t always a negative: As a North Carolina-based insurer, the NC Farm Bureau is likely to give you more state-specific details and assistance with your policy. You can read about a few of the discounts for which you might qualify, including those for married couples and a property discount if your home is also insured with the company. For any further detail, though, you’re going to have to give the company a call.
Like State Farm, USAA has the highest A.M. Best financial strength rating of A++. However, USAA excelled past the rest with J.D. Power, where the company achieved five out of five in all categories, from price to policy offerings to the claims experience. That’s high praise, and USAA might have made the top of our list on that alone but for one factor: It’s not for everyone.
We mean that literally: The company only offers its insurance coverage to active members of the military, veterans, and their families. However, if you happen to fall within these categories, you’ll find most of the standard discounts and coverage options you would with any other provider, but backed by exemplary customer service. If you’re eligible, USAA is definitely worth a look.
The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina
Average Annual Premiums by Company
|Car Insurance Companies||Average Annual Premium|
Quadrant car insurance rate data as of 07/01/2019.
Average Annual Premium by Credit Tier
|Credit Rating Tier||Average Annual Premium|
|Average Across Credit Ratings||$700|
Quadrant car insurance rate data as of 07/01/2019.
Top 3 Cheapest Companies
- GEICO: $353
- Progressive: $371
- Erie Insurance: $547
Top 3 Most Expensive Companies
- Nationwide: $883
- Allied Insurance: $743
- Metropolitan Insurance: $731
The cheapest auto insurance companies in North Carolina are GEICO, Progressive, and Erie Insurance. North Carolina has a variety of regions that can impact car insurance coverage and rates. Living in the foothills of western North Carolina will present unique weather factors that can impact rates, while drivers in the Piedmont may pay more due to a higher likelihood of an accident occurring in an area with greater population density. North Carolina is home to several major metropolitan areas, which means more opportunities for thefts and traffic mishaps for drivers in those areas. Even beyond those areas, residents of the Tar Heel state should always be prepared for a variety of road hazards and driving environments.
Guide to North Carolina Auto Insurance
Make sure you meet minimum requirements
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. North Carolina’s set minimums are actually on the higher end, but there are still plenty of instances where they will not be nearly enough to cover you in the event of a serious accident. Our advice: Purchase the greatest amount of coverage you can comfortably afford.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
The state of North Carolina also requires you 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 the minimum 30/60/25 coverage but cause an accident that costs far more than this. By having this coverage, you can rest assured that your insurance company will help you foot 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 additional costs.
Compare rates and coverages
You’ll also want to consider optional insurance coverages in your quote search, such as collision insurance (which helps pay to repair your car if you drive into, say, a tree) and comprehensive coverage (which helps you get a new car if yours gets stolen). Review all of the insurance options available and speak with agents to determine the best options possible for you (and your budget). You can start by checking out our quote tool at the top of the page.
North Carolina Auto Insurance FAQ
It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle in Tar Heel State without proof of insurance. If you are caught driving without insurance, you could face fines and fees of up to $100 and 45 days of probation. You might also have your vehicle registration suspended for up to a month.
As we’ve previously stated, North Carolina residents pay the lowest auto insurance rates in the country. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that North Carolina residents pay $789 — about $220 less than the nation’s average.
Insurance agencies consider urban areas riskier — statistically, denser populations are more prone to accidents and theft. The “riskier” the area, the higher the premium, and North Carolina happens to be a relatively rural state. The state insurance department also implements tight regulations on premium rates — the commissioner proposes a maximum auto insurance rate, which is then further adjusted based on input from insurance companies across North Carolina. Once it’s set, insurers can’t sell above that amount.
Some insurers will reduce your premiums if you spend less time behind the wheel — but for every 5,000 fewer miles spent behind the wheel, North Carolina drivers will get less than 1% premium deduction.
If you really want to save money on auto insurance in this state, the key is to drive safely. 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 rates become. 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 one point and your rate goes up by 30%. Points stay on your record for three years — so read up on what incurs points, and then try not to earn them.
The Best North Carolina Auto Insurance Companies: Summed Up
|State Farm||Allstate||Nationwide||North Carolina Farm Bureau||USAA|
|Our review||Our review||Our review||Our review|
|Get a quote||Get a quote||Get a quote||Get a quote||Get a quote|
We worked with Quadrant Information Services to provide data on auto insurance rates by company and credit score. Quadrant makes this information available using rate data insurers are required to file with state Departments of Insurance. Rates are based on sample profiles created by Reviews.com for comparative purposes.