Auto Insurance Basics

Who Has the Cheapest Auto Insurance Quotes in North Carolina?

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We analyzed auto insurance quotes for two sample drivers as a benchmark, and compared their costs in 80+ cities in the Tar Heel State. The analysis found that the average premium for our profiled drivers is $687 per year - the cheapest car insurance company in North Carolina cost nearly half as much as the most expensive company. For this reason, it's in consumers' best interests to get at least three quotes to make sure they're getting good rates for themselves. Enter your zip above to see which insurers are active in your neighborhood, or for more information, read below:

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina

To determine which providers which had the best car insurance rates in North Carolina, we compared quotes from 13 insurers for our two male sample drivers across 66 cities. Below is a graph of the most affordable car insurance companies in North Carolina based on the results of our research and analysis, which were based on motorists with great driving records and basic liability limits coverage. Your quotes will be different, and customized according to your car, address, driving history, and coverage amounts.

In this graph, we show the five companies out of the 13 in our study that had the cheapest car insurance rates for our two drivers in North Carolina.

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GEICO, Auto-Owners, North Carolina Farm Bureau, Titan, and Allied had the best rates when it came to insuring our two drivers' Toyota. These five companies average a premium of $550 for our sample drivers - that's a a 20% difference from the state mean. All these companies are national insurers, with the exception of NC Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau is an organization that requires membership and annual dues in order to be eligible for their auto insurance products. You don't have to be involved in the farming community to sign up, and member dues are $25 statewide in North Carolina.

Most Expensive Car Insurers in North Carolina

The three most expensive insurers were Safeco, MetLife, and Allstate, based on our analysis. With an average annual rate of $873, the three national insurance companies cost about 27% more than the 13-company composite average from the study. Compared to the cheapest three, Safeco, MetLife, and Allstate were roughly $371 more expensive each year for our two drivers' basic liability insurance policies.

For the full list of insurers, see below, where they're ranked from most affordable to most expensive. Rates are based on the average of our two drivers, who haven't had any traffic violations or accidents in the past five years. Based on your experience as a driver, and the types and amounts of coverage you choose on your auto insurance policy among other factors, your quotes will differ.

Rank Car Insurance Companies Yearly Car Insurance Rate
1 GEICO $435
2 Auto-Owners 474
3 NC Farm Bureau 597
4 Titan 616
5 Allied 630
6 Erie 638
7 State Farm 644
8 Encompass 693
9 Nationwide 758
10 Unitrin 835
11 Allstate 856
12 Metlife 864
13 Safeco 897

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina: by City

Below is a table with the three companies with the lowest auto insurance rates for ten of the biggest cities in the state. This will help motorists see a local view of who has the cheapest rates in their hometown. However, these rates are for our single male sample drivers, so it is important to remember that your rates will differ based on your vehicle, driving record, and other factors. GEICO and Auto-Owners dominated as the #1 and #2 cheapest car insruance companies in these ten cities.

NC Places Cheapest Insurer #1 Cheapest Insurer #2 Cheapest Insurer #3
Charlotte GEICO $432 Auto-Owners $546 Allied $624
Raleigh GEICO 438 Auto-Owners 480 Titan 546
Greensboro GEICO 420 Auto-Owners 444 NC Farm Bureau 558
Durham GEICO 432 Auto-Owners 534 NC Farm Bureau 624
Winston-Salem GEICO 420 Auto-Owners 444 NC Farm Bureau 558
Fayetteville GEICO 462 Auto-Owners 582 NC Farm Bureau 726
Cary GEICO 438 Auto-Owners 480 Titan 546
Wilmington GEICO 426 Auto-Owners 522 Titan 606
High Point GEICO 420 Auto-Owners 516 Titan 600
Greenville GEICO 432 Auto-Owners 546 NC Farm Bureau 600

Best Rated Auto Insurers in North Carolina

To decide which companies were the best rated, we decided to take a look at which ones received the least complaints relative to their business size. Using data from the North Carolina Department of Insurance, we calculated a complaint index that compares the number of complaints to the number premiums in dollars. Below is a table ranking the insurance companies in North Carolina by the lowest index numbers (best) to highest (worst) complaint index. If the index is less than one, the insurer is better than the average, and if it is greater than one, it is worse than the average. For example, if the company’s complaint ratio is 1.15, the company has a 15% higher share of complaints compared to its market share. 

Company # of Complaints Premiums Underwritten Complaint Index
Fireman's Fund 0 $2,873,903 0.00
Cincinnati Insurance Company 6 16,376,699 0.48
Amica 8 20,596,149 0.51
Penn National Insurance 9 21,500,866 0.55
Erie Insurance 39 86,441,714 0.59
North Carolina Farm Bureau 132 270,989,501 0.64
USAA 95 183,001,580 0.68
Travelers 26 48,595,837 0.70
Utica National Insurance 2 3,617,775 0.73
Victoria Insurance 2 3,572,156 0.74
Ameriprise 2 3,535,933 0.74
Nationwide 241 424,614,834 0.75
Kemper 22 38,359,488 0.75
State Auto 6 10,232,022 0.77
Main Street America Insurance 2 3,382,295 0.78
Central Mutual 10 15,982,194 0.82
State Farm 236 374,130,757 0.83
QBENA 2 2,839,823 0.93
Encompass 3 4,258,215 0.93
Auto-Owners 23 31,125,197 0.97
Horace Mann 12 15,719,994 1.00
Progressive 93 115,704,198 1.06
Southern General Insurance Company 5 6,091,468 1.08
Allied 5 5,710,059 1.15
MetLife 26 29,679,854 1.15
GEICO 202 225,545,212 1.18
Allstate 226 239,799,596 1.24
National General 202 198,873,809 1.34
21st Century 8 7,593,516 1.39
Liberty Mutual 116 88,469,664 1.73
Universal Group 28 20,159,784 1.83
Sentry 45 30,275,564 1.96
Titan 15 9,912,218 1.99
Hartford 46 27,939,545 2.17
Discovery Insurance 30 17,439,812 2.26
Greenville Casualty Insurance Company 11 4,199,939 3.45
State National Companies Inc. 30 10,874,098 3.63
Safeco 12 4,321,822

3.65

Places with the Cheapest Auto Insurance in North Carolina

Our most affordable cities had an average premium of $628, an 9% decrease overall compared to the state average. Most of the cheapest cities profiled in our study were clustered in the western half of the state in the Piedmont region. Populations ranged from 7,000 to over 83,500 for these places.

Rank North Carolina City Average Annual Rates Decrease vs. State Average
1 Asheville $609 -12%
2 King 630 -9%
3 Winston Salem 631 -9%
4 Mebane 632 -8%
4 Black Mountain 632 -8%
5 Lexington 634 -8%

Asheville, NC

Asheville takes the top spot on our list of the cheapest auto insurance rates in North Carolina with an average annual rate of $609, which make it 12% more affordable than the rest of the state. Numbering over 83,000 in residents, Asheville is home to the largest private residence in America, the Biltmore Estate, as well as the United States National Climatic Data Center, the world’s largest active archive of weather data. It has garnered recognition for an assortment of titles from “Beer City USA” to “Happiest City for Women”, to which we add the "Best City in North Carolina for Auto Insurance"!

King, NC

Originally called King’s Cabin, King is located in Stokes County and Forsyth County. Its 7,000 residents have access to a wide array of recreational activities in its large public parks, including the aptly named Recreation Acres and Central Park. Today, it takes the spot of the city with the 2nd best rates for car insurance in North Carolina. Rates here are 9% cheaper compared to the typical city in the Tar Heel State, with our sample drivers seeing average costs of $630 per year.

Winston-Salem, NC

Not far behind King, NC is Winston-Salem, the county seat of Forsyth County, and the city with the #3 best car insurance rates in the state. Our profiled drivers pay about $631 for a year's worth of basic liability coverage to insure their vehicles - just a dollar more on average compared to our drivers about 20 miles away in King. Perhaps most well-known for successful business ventures, Winston-Salem is the birthplace of many companies, such as Krispy Kreme, Camel Cigarettes, and Hanesbrands. It is the fourth largest city in North Carolina and is called the “Twin City” and “City of the Arts and Innovation” for its dual focus on fine arts and technological research. 

Black Mountain, and Mebane, NC

Tying for the 4th cheapest car insurance costs in North Carolina are Black Mountain and Mebane, NC. On average, annual costs for our sample drivers in these two locaitons are $632, which places the city 8% below the statewide average. Our first town shares its name with the Black Mountain range and the original train depot established there. A number of quaint bed & breakfasts and shops in Black Mountain cater to seasonal tourists, who contribute materially to the city’s economy. Mebane, named after the Revolutionary War general and U.S. Congressman Alexander Mebane Jr, was originally called Mebanesville. The city is home to 11,300 residents, who are split between Alamance County and Orange County.

Lexington, NC

Rounding out our five most affordable cities is Lexington, NC, where rates came in at $634 per year for basic car insurance (and 8% more favorable versus other locations surveyed). The city numbers 19,000 residents, but every October, more than 100,000 hungry attendees descend upon Lexington, the “Barbecue Capital of North Carolina”, for the Lexington Barbecue Festival. The economy was once based on textile and furniture manufacturing, but has since moved on to larger conglomerates like Kimberly-Clark.

Places with the Most Expensive Car Insurance in North Carolina

In aggregate, our most expensive cities in North Carolina ranked with a cost of car insurance that was 16% greater than the state mean. The average annual premium for these five cities was $801, which, while expensive relatively speaking in the state, actually fell on the cheaper side compared to other states the team has analyzed. These locations ranged vastly in size from populations of less than 5,000 to over 203,000.

Rank North Carolina City Average Annual Rates Increase vs. State Average
1 Fayetteville $840 22%
2 Laurinburg 798 16%
2 Lumberton 798 16%
3 Whiteville 792 15%
4 Raeford 791 15%
5 Sanford 788 14%

Fayetteville, NC

Fayetteville is our #1 Most Expensive City in North Carolina, with an average annual cost of $840 when it comes to insuring an automobile - that's 22% more for our sample drivers than the typical NC city. Fayetteville is a fast-growing city with a population of over 203,000 residents, which makes it the sixth largest city in North Carolina. It was almost the capital of North Carolina (lost by one vote!), and was named after the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited in 1825. The Marquis toured the 24 state union in a carriage, which can be found in the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Amory & Museum.

Lumberton and Laurinburg, NC

Lumberton and Laurinburg tie for the second most expensive locations on our list with our profiled drivers seeing annual costs for auto insurance that were 16% higher at $798. Located in southern North Carolina’s Inner Banks region on the Lumber River, Lumberton was once a shipping point for lumber. After World War II, the city developed and expanded, and is now home to over 21,000 residents. Laurinburg is located on 12 square miles of Scotland County. Motorists here have access to three main thoroughfares in the city: U.S. Highway 74, U.S. Highway 401, and Interstate 95. A number of museums and attractions are situated here, including the Indian Museum of the Carolinas and the Scottish Heritage Center.

Whiteville, NC

Third on our list of the most expensive places in North Carolina for auto insurance is Whiteville, NC. Originally named White’s Crossing, Whiteville is one of the oldest towns in Columbus County. Local educational institutions have a large presence here, with four community colleges that can be found in and around Whiteville. When it comes to car insurance, our benchmark drivers saw an average quote of $792 a year for basic liability protection, making the city 15% more expensive.

Raeford, NC

At $791 per year, Raeford ranks fourth on our most expensive cities list for car insurance with an average cost 15% higher than the state average. The city is located in Hoke County with a square footage of 4 miles and a population of over 4,000. This small city was named after John McRae and A.A. Williford, two of the earlier settlers at the time. Car racing enthusiasts will find the the Rockfish Speedway in Raeford, where go-karts races are held.  

Sanford, NC

Sanford, NC rounds out our top five most expensive place for car insurance. Its 29,000 residents have access to many shopping centers and parks for both household purchases and recreation alike. Our sample drivers in Sanford saw an average cost of $788 per year when it comes to car insurance. The city of Sanford was named “Brick Capital of the USA” in 1959 for its high brick production, and still manufactures a large quantity of brick as well as textiles today. Large employers in Sanford include 3M and Pfizer.

Average Cost of Car Insurance in North Carolina: by City

86 locations in the Tar Heel state - from Albemarle to Zebulon - were covered, and included places in all three regions: the Blue Ridge Mountain region through Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. Annual costs for these places spanned from $609 in Asheville, the lowest rates in our North Carolina study, to $840 in Fayetteville. Depending on where our North Carolinians sample drivers lived, auto insurance rates can vary by 38% from the most expensive to the cheapest in the set.

This graph shows the average quote our sample drivers saw for insuring their cars in various cities in NC.

Study Methodology

In arriving at the relative cost of car insurance between cities in North Carolina, we obtained auto insurance quotes for two sample drivers across in 88 locations in the state. The drivers we used as our benchmark were a single 30 year old male and a single 65 year old male to have a standard comparison across the 80+ places. Each man owned and were the principal drivers of a 2010 Toyota Camry vehicle - no renting or financing. They average 12,000 miles a year on the road for daily commute to and from work, and in the most recent five years, have not had any accidents or traffic violations.

Quotes were obtained for a policy with basic liability protection for the Camry from companies such as State Farm, GEICO, and the North Carolina Farm Bureau. North Carolina requires minimum limits of $30,000 per person and up to $60,000 per accident for Bodily Injury Liability, and Uninsured Motorist Coverage. It also requires that drivers are insured for up to $25,000 for property damage. At higher levels of bodily injury coverage, North Carolina requires that insurers include combined Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage in the same policy.

Type North Carolina Minimum Requirements Study Limits
Bodily Injury Liability $30,000 per person, and $50,000 per person, and
up to $60,000 per accident up to $100,000 per accident
Property Damage $25,000 per accident $25,000 per accident
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist* $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per person, and
up to $50,000 per accident up to $100,000 per accident

*Note that the North Carolina Department of Insurance mandates that policies with the minimum coverage limits include only uninsured motorist coverage. Once protection limits are raised, the law requires that Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage are bundled together on drivers' policies.

For your reference, listed in the below table are the 86 locations surveyed in the state study. Places are presented alphabetically, from Albemarle to Zebulon. The first column indicates how each location placed when ranked from cheapest to most expensive.

Cheapest City Rank Location Average Annual Rates Change vs. State Average
North Carolina Average $690
27 Albemarle 664 -4%
13 Andrews 654 -5%
21 Asheboro 658 -5%
1 Asheville 609 -12%
4 Black Mountain 632 -8%
28 Boone 665 -4%
15 Bryson City 655 -5%
53 Carolina Beach 725 5%
36 Cary 679 -2%
20 Cashiers 658 -5%
36 Chapel Hill 679 -2%
57 Charlotte 765 11%
61 Clayton 787 14%
47 Clinton 710 3%
7 Concord 636 -8%
26 Denver 663 -4%
59 Dunn 780 13%
56 Durham 728 5%
40 Elizabeth City 702 2%
48 Elizabethtown 711 3%
29 Elkin 666 -3%
66 Fayetteville 840 22%
22 Forest City 659 -4%
10 Franklin 649 -6%
39 Fremont 691 0%
52 Gastonia 716 4%
30 Goldsboro 667 -3%
6 Greensboro 635 -8%
34 Greenville 672 -3%
31 Havelock 668 -3%
41 Henderson 703 2%
11 Hendersonville 650 -6%
25 Hickory 662 -4%
44 High Point 707 2%
12 Hillsborough 653 -5%
35 Huntersville 672 -3%
58 Jacksonville 775 12%
42 Jamestown 704 2%
2 King 630 -9%
32 Kinston 669 -3%
65 Laurinburg 798 16%
23 Lenoir 660 -4%
5 Lexington 634 -8%
65 Lumberton 798 16%
12 Marion 653 -5%
4 Mebane 632 -8%
33 Monroe 670 -3%
49 Mooresville 712 3%
29 Morganton 666 -3%
29 Mount Airy 666 -3%
50 Mount Olive 713 3%
45 Nags Head 708 3%
31 New Bern 668 -3%
24 Newton 661 -4%
25 North Wilkesboro 662 -4%
46 Oriental 709 3%
63 Raeford 791 15%
37 Raleigh 680 -1%
51 Roanoke Rapids 715 4%
14 Robbinsville 655 -5%
26 Rockingham 663 -4%
52 Rocky Mount 716 4%
19 Roxboro 657 -5%
22 Rutherfordton 659 -4%
8 Salisbury 637 -8%
62 Sanford 788 14%
60 Shallotte 787 14%
28 Shelby 665 -4%
61 Smithfield 787 14%
16 Southern Pines 656 -5%
60 Southport 787 14%
24 Statesville 661 -4%
18 Sylva 657 -5%
9 Thomasville 645 -6%
22 Tryon 659 -4%
38 Wake Forest 687 0%
42 Warrenton 704 2%
43 Washington 705 2%
17 Waynesville 656 -5%
27 West Jefferson 664 -4%
64 Whiteville 792 15%
54 Wilmington 726 5%
3 Winston-Salem 631 -9%
55 Wrightsville Beach 727 5%
32 Yanceyville 669 -3%
30 Zebulon 667 -3%

Sources:
North Carolina's Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance: http://www.ncdoi.com/_publications/consumer%20guide%20to%20automobile%20insurance_cau1.pdf
Census QuickFacts for NC: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/37000.html

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