Penalties for driving without insurance in North Carolina

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It is risky driving without insurance in North Carolina. Like many states, North Carolina requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance to drive legally. With approximately 7 million licensed drivers on the road, North Carolina sees an average of 14.02 people killed each year per 100,000 travelers (which is higher than the national average of 11.)

Minimum insurance required in North Carolina

In North Carolina every driver must purchase at least a minimum amount of car insurance. If you do not and you are pulled over, you will receive a citation. It is easy to get pulled over in North Carolina for driving without insurance because the state requires all insurers to notify the DMV anytime a driver’s policy lapses.

The minimum amount each driver must have in North Carolina is:

  • 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

While the minimum amount of car insurance will cover you from a legal standpoint, you might want to consider purchasing collision and comprehensive coverage as well to be more financially protected.

Penalties for driving without insurance in North Carolina

The average annual cost for minimum car insurance in North Carolina is $413 (or approximately $35 a month). If you are caught driving without insurance, the fines could easily total more than this amount because driving without insurance in North Carolina is a misdemeanor.

There are many penalties you could face for driving without insurance in North Carolina—and the severity of the punishment increases with each offense.

Probation/ Jail Fines License Suspension Vehicle Registration Suspension
1st Offense 1-45 days of probation $50 civil penalty fee; $50 reinstatement fee 30-day suspension 30-day suspension
2nd Offense Jail or probation up to 45 days $100 civil penalty fee; $50 reinstatement fee 30-day suspension 30-day suspension
3rd Offense Jail or probation up to 45 days $150 civil penalty fee; $50 reinstatement fee 30-day suspension 30-day suspension

Getting into an accident without insurance

If you get into an accident in North Carolina while driving without insurance, a few things could happen. However, the extent of the consequences depends on whether or not you are at fault in the accident.

Not at fault

Even if you did not cause the accident, the officer at the scene will most likely give you a ticket for not having insurance. If your car is drivable after the accident, you will not be allowed to drive it once the police know you do not have insurance, so you may also need to pay towing and impound fees. Nevertheless, you will still be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, assuming they are adequately insured.

At fault

North Carolina is an at-fault/ tort state, which means the driver responsible for the accident is financially accountable for any damages caused by the crash. Though the minimum liability limits are $30,000/$60,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage, at-fault drivers can still be responsible for more if the damages exceed these amounts.

Even disregarding medical costs (which could be astronomical depending on the accident), you could also be responsible for a fairly expensive property damage bill. A new Honda Odyssey, for example, costs around $32,000. If you totaled one of these vehicles, you could be responsible for that entire amount out of pocket, which is enough to ruin most people financially.

All of these financial consequences are in addition to potentially losing your license, paying fines, and even going to jail.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

The best car insurance company will be different for everyone. While you could use our picks as a starting point in your research, you will likely want to get quotes from multiple providers for the same coverage options to compare prices. Consider each provider’s reputation for customer service and financial stability and look at what kind of discounts are offered.

Does North Carolina use SR-22s?

No, North Carolina does not require SR-22s to ensure drivers with severe traffic violations are insured. North Carolina state law already requires insurance companies to notify the DMV when a driver has canceled their insurance policy or has had their policy terminated.

Which company offers the cheapest car insurance in North Carolina?

The cheapest car insurance in North Carolina is different for everyone because insurance premiums are calculated using several specific factors about the vehicle, location, and sometimes certain personal factors. State laws differ as to which personal factors can be used by insurance companies to calculate insurance premiums. It is worth noting that, in North Carolina, gender is not allowed to be considered a factor in insurance premiums.

Bankrate did a little research into major car insurance providers in North Carolina. Our study found that Geico and State Farm offer reasonable annual rates for full coverage insurance, at $835 and $958, respectively. Your rates could differ, though, and there may be insurers that are not on our list that will offer the cheapest rates for your situation.

Written by
Lauren Ward
Insurance Contributor
Lauren Ward has nearly 10 years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and Reviews.com. She covers auto, homeowners, and life insurance, as well other topics in the personal finance industry.
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