The Risks of Driving Without Insurance in North Carolina

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Driving without auto insurance coverage in the Tar Heel State is illegal and may result in significant penalties. The repercussions for driving without insurance in the state can range from fines, fees, license and registration suspension to even jail time. The penalties don’t stop with the legal consequences, either, as there are several other ramifications to driving without valid North Carolina auto insurance.

Let’s investigate everything that may happen to North Carolinians who lack adequate car insurance coverage, how to tailor your policy to meet the state’s minimum requirements and your own needs, and how you can protect yourself against drivers who make poor choices when it comes to auto insurance in the Tar Heel State.

The Risks of Driving Without Insurance in North Carolina

In North Carolina, car insurance is mandatory for all drivers. Driving without the minimum coverage required by law may result in legal penalties and long-lasting monetary consequences. It’s essential to ensure your policy always meets the state’s minimum requirements lest you risk facing severe consequences.

A minimum coverage policy in North Carolina has at least $30,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $60,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, $25,000 in property damage liability per accident (30/60/25 liability coverage), and the same limits in uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Those who lease or finance their vehicles may also be required to carry collision and comprehensive coverages.

Policies with a limit of at least 30/60/25 in liability and UM coverages are considered sufficient in the eyes of the law. While having a minimum coverage policy will protect you from any legal penalties, it may not offer much protection otherwise. North Carolinians with a minimum coverage policy only have coverage that may be invoked by the victim of an accident caused by the policyholder (liability coverage) or coverage for themselves, should they be the victim in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. 

Many drivers in the Tar Heel State opt for a full coverage policy because the minimum coverage requirements don’t offer an expansive range of coverage. Drivers with a minimum coverage policy lack coverage for their medical expenses or vehicle repairs should they be the at-fault driver in an accident. While a full coverage policy isn’t legally necessary, having a policy with higher liability and UM limits than what’s required, plus optional coverages like medical payments coverage (MedPay), personal injury protection (PIP), collision coverage, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), comprehensive coverage, or other additional coverages can help protect drivers in any situation they encounter behind the wheel. 

While a minimum coverage policy may be the cheapest policy in the state, it may not be the best choice for all drivers. Car insurance is highly subjective, the details differing from person to person. The best policy will often come from one of the top insurers in the state and will likely be a full coverage policy that allows drivers to find a middle ground between cost and coverage. 

Luckily, North Carolina is one of the country’s cheapest states for auto insurance. The average cost of a full coverage policy in the Tar Heel State is about $1,340 annually, or about 20% less than the national average of $1,670. While this may be out of budget for some drivers, there are plenty of ways drivers may lower their premiums without sacrificing coverage.

It can be tempting to forgo coverage entirely in the name of savings, but the repercussions for passing on coverage are far more expensive than a premium. 

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Is Driving Without Car Insurance in North Carolina Illegal?

In North Carolina, driving without insurance is illegal and punishable by law. The penalties for breaking the mandatory insurance law may be fines, fees, license and registration suspension, or even jail time. Those who break this law may even face a combination of consequences. On top of legal penalties, drivers may face monetary consequences, like an increase in insurance premiums, legal defense fees if there’s a lawsuit due to the accident, or filing for an SR-22.

Drivers who have had their registration or license revoked or suspended generally require an SR-22 to reinstate their documents. An SR-22, or a DL-123 in North Carolina, is a form insurers file on behalf of a high-risk driver to verify with the state that the driver currently holds an adequate auto insurance policy. 

While filing for an SR-22 isn’t costly, having the form on one’s record indicates to insurers that a driver poses a significant risk of filing a claim. Thus, drivers with an SR-22 often pay higher-than-average premiums to compensate for their risk.

What Is the Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in North Carolina

There isn’t just one penalty for driving without insurance in North Carolina. Instead, drivers who break the mandatory insurance law face several legal and monetary consequences. The legal consequences may be fees, fines, license and registration suspension, or jail time since the crime is considered a misdemeanor in the state. The penalty depends on the severity and frequency of the crime.

Drivers with an otherwise clean driving record involved in a minor traffic incident will generally face less severe consequences than those with a history of making poor choices behind the wheel. However, first offenders may still face jail time or probation if the incident is severe.

Fines and fees for driving uninsured generally range from $100 to $200, depending on the incident. Uninsured drivers in the Tar Heel State will likely only face about 30 days of license and registration suspension. Jail time or probation for the offense may last up to 45 days. 

Since North Carolina isn’t a no-fault state but an at-fault or tort state, at least one driver must be considered at fault in every accident. If the at-fault driver is uninsured, the victim may use their UM coverage to cover their expenses, but they may also sue the uninsured driver for any remaining expenses their insurance doesn’t cover. Thus, uninsured drivers must also consider legal defense fees as a monetary consequence of driving uninsured.

How Much Is a Driving Without Insurance Ticket in North Carolina?

If you’re caught driving without insurance in North Carolina, you’ll likely have to pay a fine. Fines for the offense generally start at about $50 but may go up to $200, depending on the incident. It’s essential to note, though, that fines aren’t the only financial consequence of driving without insurance in the state. Drivers who have their license or registration suspended or revoked will have to pay a reinstatement fee, and that’s just the beginning.

Drivers who cause an accident while driving without sufficient coverage will likely have to pay for the expenses the victim incurs due to the accident. Plus, uninsured drivers are likely to be sued for damages by accident victims, so they must also consider the cost of legal defense and the lawsuit’s outcome.

It’s generally far more expensive to drive without insurance coverage than it is to maintain a policy in the Tar Heel State. The expenses associated with the consequences of driving without coverage may easily be double or triple the cost of an insurance premium.

How To Get a Car Insurance Quote in North Carolina

Whether you’re finally ready for an insurance policy, a new driver, or simply curious about the rates you’re eligible for, the best way to find a policy that suits your needs is to get and compare quotes online. By getting and comparing quotes online, you can find a policy that works for your lifestyle but doesn’t break the bank.

Luckily, you’ve come to the experts when it comes to quotes. Here at Clovered, we even have a free quoting tool you can use to get the best quotes for you in no time! If you’d rather speak to a person about your quote, we have those, too. You can contact one of our licensed agents at 833-255-4117 or to ask them any of your insurance-related queries.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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