International House (IHouse)

Auto Insurance in North Carolina

Automobile insurance companies have a wide range of rates. Car insurance rates depend on the following: year, make, and model of car; residence location; how much your car will be used; your driving record in the U.S., etc. The best plan is to shop around to compare prices, coverage, and services. Make sure to ask questions if you do not understand something. 

Type of Insurance Coverage
(Taken from State Farm Pamphlet, What is Auto Insurance?)

Liability Insurance. Payment for losses you cause others while driving. State financial responsibility laws usually determine minimum amounts. This is usually the minimum kind of insurance you can buy.

Medical Payments Insurance or Personal Injury Protection. Payment for medical expenses for accident injuries to you and your passengers.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance. Payment for injury to you and your passengers caused by an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver.

Collision Insurance. Payment for repair of your car when it is damaged in a collision, even if you're the person at fault.

Comprehensive Insurance. Payment for the repair of your car due to a non-collision loss, such as theft or damage from a storm or vandalism.

As you can see, there are many types of insurance coverage. To own a car in North Carolina, everyone is required to have Liability Insurance for each automobile. We highly recommend you get an NC Learner's Permit OR Driver's License BEFORE you purchase a car. You will be required to have one of these forms of ID in order to register your car in the state of North Carolina. 

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The North Carolina Auto Insurance Rate Bureau states, even if you have driving experience in your home country, some companies may still classify you as an Inexperienced Driver. Therefore, you may have to pay very high fees – roughly between $800 - $1,200 for 6 months of liability insurance. (However, you may be able to find a lower rate by calling around to a few insurance companies.) Obviously, if you are a brand new driver, you will have to pay the insurance fee for an inexperienced driver. Once you get a North Carolina Driver’s License you will be considered a new driver and your insurance rates will go up. You are considered an “experienced” driver after 3 years of driving in the U.S.


What You Need to Purchase the Required Liability Insurance:

  1. Your Passport
  2. Information about the vehicle: This can be the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), Title, or Bill of Sale for car. If purchasing from a dealer, some insurance companies will call the dealership for this information if you provide the dealer’s contact information.
  3. Funds: Money to cover first insurance payment. Some companies do not accept MasterCard/Visa for payment. You can pay by check.
  4. Optional: Valid Driver’s License from home OR a valid US Driver’s License OR a valid U.S. Learner’s Permit. (Note: You CAN purchase a car and auto insurance without a driver’s license. However, you cannot register your car without it, and you cannot drive a car without first registering it.)

What if I want other types of auto insurance as well?

Some insurance companies WILL NOT sell you COLLISION/COMPREHENSIVE insurance unless you bring proof of your home country driving history or obtain a U.S. license. Although this is no longer being recognized, do bring a letter from your home country Automobile Insurance Company stating your driving history. Your Driving History should include date of issue, date of expiry, name of license holder and refer to your driving record.

Things to Know….

A Non-Owners Auto Insurance Policy costs $1200 per six months. One must pay the entire amount upfront; however, it is also possible to purchase only one month of non-owner’s insurance. Not all auto insurance companies offer this. Call around to find out who does. Auto Insurance is tied to the CAR, not the individual driver. However, if you were to get into an accident driving a friend’s car, points will be added to your U.S. License. The more points you have, the higher your auto insurance rates will be.

How do I build up driving experience in the United States?

By obtaining a U.S. License AND maintaining continuous U.S. based auto insurance.

Confused about Automobile Insurance??

Have you noticed the automobile insurance system might be slightly different in the U.S.? In the United States, all cars must be insured and you are required to purchase an insurance policy when you buy a car. What does this mean? If you don't own a car, there is no need to purchase automobile insurance. 
For example: If you want to drive your friend's car, do you need to have a Non-Owner's Insurance Policy? No, you do not. Your friend who owns the car had to purchase automobile insurance when buying the car, so it should be fully insured. All you need is your friend's permission, a valid driver's license, and knowledge of the traffic rules in North Carolina. However, if you are going to borrow your friend's car regularly, uou should have your friend add you as an alternative driver to their policy. This will increase the premium.