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A Comprehensive Guide to Auto Insurance in Durham, North Carolina
Auto insurance is a necessity and the responsibility of every car owner because it covers your expenses when an accident happens or your vehicle gets damaged. More than providing financial protection, it also includes coverage for injuries to other drivers, passengers or pedestrians, and their property during a car accident when you are at fault.
Car Insurance: A Must for Drivers in North Carolina
Obtaining car insurance policy is essential for financial protection, even more so if you live in North Carolina. In this state, it is a primary requirement for car ownership and getting a driver’s license. On a similar vein, all drivers are also required by law to have liability insurance as well as uninsured motorist coverage.
But, more importantly, auto insurance gives you peace of mind on the road. After all, it covers the bill of vehicle repairs, provides financial benefits to survivors during an accident, and includes coverage for vehicle theft, damage from natural calamities, animal-related accidents, and more.
Auto insurance gives you financial coverage in case you get into an accident, especially if you are at fault. If you have injured passengers, you’ll have the means to cover their medical treatment. Your insurance can also pay for a portion, if not the entire sum, of the repair costs for your car and any other vehicles involved in the accident.
North Carolina Auto Insurance Facts
The first thing you need to know about auto insurance in Durham, North Carolina and the nearby areas is that it is mandatory. State law requires proof of auto insurance for the following:
- Buying and registering a brand-new car
- Registering a newly-bought, second-hand car
- Renewing registration for your existing vehicle
- Applying and renewing a driver’s license
In most cases, dealerships won’t allow you to drive out of their lots without proof of insurance. This is for your protection and in compliance with state law, which makes it a legal requirement for drivers and car owners to have financial coverage for the cost of injuries and damages that result from vehicular accidents.
North Carolina also requires motorists to have basic liability insurance at any given time. This means you should avoid having lapses in your policy. Otherwise, the state will give you a fine and suspend your vehicle’s registration for 30 days.
Even if you don’t own a car but have a driver’s license, you still need to have non-owner car insurance. Only a few auto insurance companies offer this option. Our agents at Amistad Insurance Services can help you find affordable Durham auto insurance with satisfying liability coverage.
Basic Liability Coverage
For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with car insurance terms, liability insurance is what pays for physical injuries and damage to property if you are at fault in an auto accident. The North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI), in compliance with the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Law, requires motorists have a policy with the following minimum coverage per accident:
- $30,000 Bodily Injury per person
- $60,000 Bodily Injury for all persons involved (total sum)
- $25,000 for Property Damage
For non-car owners, your insurance serves as secondary coverage. The policy of the owner of the car you borrowed will still provide primary coverage in case you cause an accident. This is because non-owner insurance doesn’t include collision, comprehensive, and towing and rental reimbursement.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage: A Secondary Requirement
North Carolina also requires motorists to have Uninsured Motorists Coverage. This pays for medical treatments and vehicle repairs in case you get into an accident and the driver at fault has no insurance. Insurers normally package this with the basic liability, but make sure you double-check for the following:
- If your policy provides the minimum coverage for basic liability (the amounts detailed above), it should also come with Uninsured Motorists Coverage. This covers bodily injury and property damage.
- If your policy provides higher than the minimum for basic liability, it should provide both Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Coverage. This covers bodily injury only.
This insurance covers you, the driver, and your passengers. If you drive around with your family, basic liability is a must-have.
Amistad Insurance Services understands that your family’s well-being is your top priority. You can trust us to help you find an insurance provider that can give you excellent basic liability and Uninsured Motorists Coverage at premiums you can afford.
North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan: An Inducement to Drive Carefully
Traffic enforcement and motorists need to work together to achieve a high degree of road safety. This is why, to encourage its drivers to practice safe driving habits, North Carolina implemented the Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP).
The law’s name is a misnomer. It doesn’t actually give monetary incentives to drivers with pristine records; instead, it allows insurance companies to increase drivers’ premiums by 30-340%. The rate of increase depends on the points you earn within three years prior to renewing or applying for a new policy. The more serious your violation is, the higher the points you earn; and the more points you have, the more expensive your premiums become.
Keeping Premiums at a Minimum
With the SDIP law in effect, what you need to do to avoid paying larger premiums for your auto insurance in Durham, NC is clear: drive safely and do it consistently. If, however, you have had no previous driving record and are just about to buy a car, you can keep your premiums to a minimum if your vehicle:
- Is a new model
- Has modern safety features, like anti-lock brakes and anti-theft controls
- An economy or utility vehicle
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
If the threat of expensive premiums is not enough inducement to drive safely, becoming a high-risk driver might do the trick.
Under normal circumstances, insurance providers may deny coverage to a driver if he or she poses too much of a risk. While all states have a minimum amount of car insurance for all drivers, some companies may not sell car insurance to high-risk drivers in North Carolina. Drivers in this category may face challenges in obtaining insurance. For instance, their premiums might be higher than motorists in the standard tier.
High-Risk Drivers in North Carolina
The law may differ depending on the area, however. In North Carolina, for instance, rigid state laws do not allow insurance companies to refuse to provide Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability coverage to any driver. The North Carolina Reinsurance Facility ensures that all drivers in the state with eligible risks can still purchase auto liability insurance.
Some insurance companies, on the other hand, have the freedom to classify these drivers as “high risk.” In turn, this makes it harder for them to qualify for auto insurance policy in Durham. They are:
- First-time and inexperienced drivers with less than 3 years of driving experience (usually teen drivers, whom parents can add to their insurance policies) – The risk of motor crashes is common among unsupervised teen drivers (often between 16 to 19 years old) because of their poor driving record and inexperience.
- Drivers with DUI records – A DUI conviction in North Carolina will stay on your record for seven years. Expect to remain a high-risk driver for as long as you have a DUI conviction on your record.
- Drivers with multiple traffic violations – A driving record of traffic violations and accidents could give insurance companies reason to charge you higher insurance rates. In most cases, they are usually interested in your driving record from the past 5 years.
- Drivers convicted of being at-fault in an accident – If you are more than 0% at fault for an accident, your record will tag you as an at-fault accident driver. If you are more than 25% at fault, you may receive higher insurance premiums.
- Drivers without prior insurance – High-risk drivers without insurance in North Carolina need to pay a civil penalty fee ranging from $50 to $150, depending on the number of prior lapses they have on their record. Inadequate proof of at least six months of continuous coverage is enough to be deemed a high-risk driver.
- Drivers with high-risk vehicles – Some owners of high-performance vehicles or sports cars carry the risk of reckless driving or overspeeding. As a result, some insurance companies may consider the owners of these vehicles high-risk drivers.
The NCRF ensures that high-risk drivers have the insurance coverage they need, but with one caveat: they share the risk associated with their classification with fellow drivers in the reinsurance facility. This means their premiums are inevitably more expensive.
In the eyes of insurance providers, high-risk drivers are most likely to file a claim on their policies. So, it’s difficult to obtain auto insurance with low premiums if you are one. You’ll also have a hard time getting coverage for collision, comprehensive, medical payments, and other insurance options unless you sign a document wherein you consent to pay rates that are higher than what the NCDOI approved.
Car accidents happen, and they happen to the best of us, even. Do not be a risk to other people, but, most especially, to your family.
Get in touch with Amistad Insurance Services. Whether you’re looking for information on Durham auto insurance or need help filing a claim, we can help you out. Our customer service is on standby 24 hours, 7 days a week. Contact us today.