It’s simple: If you drive a car, you need car insurance. Almost every state in the U.S. requires that drivers have at least basic liability coverage. You should also consider additional coverages, such as uninsured motorist coverage, collision coverage, personal injury protection and comprehensive car insurance to make sure you’re always prepared for the unexpected.
In simple terms, car insurance is a contract that you have with an auto insurance company where you pay a regular fee in exchange for the promise to pay for certain kinds of coverage in the event of an accident. The auto insurance company will cover medical fees and vehicle repair damages up to the amount in the insurance policy that you’ve signed up for.

After a DUI, Nationwide's premiums increased by more than $1,300 to become the third-most-expensive company, while Liberty Mutual became the cheapest. While Liberty Mutual isn't the cheapest auto insurer without a DUI, the $785 increase is the smallest financial penalty for drinking and driving. This is why it’s important to not become complacent with your insurance company. Just because Nationwide was the cheapest insurance company before a DUI doesn't mean things will stay as-is with a serious violation on your record.
If you find yourself away from the wheel more times than not, a pay-per mile auto insurance company like Metromile may be the best company to go with. Metromile is one of the first companies in the U.S. where a bulk of a driver's premium is determined by how much they drive. How much is too much? We found that generally for Metromile to be a good deal, drivers should only drive 7,500 miles or less per year. The biggest downsides to Metromile is a mediocre record of claims handling, in addition to the company only being available in seven states: CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA.
The type of car you drive matters. If you drive a vehicle that is listed as high theft, or more likely to be involved in an accident, expect to pay higher premiums. Even cars that have collision protection can actually drive up the price due to the cost of repairs. Other things that will drive the cost of repairs up is after-market installs. Things like rims, spoilers, and exterior lighting can be costly to repair. You will want to make sure that you have the right coverage to cover damage to after factory installs.
If you have a clean driving record — no at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, or other recent citations — you'll probably pay less for car insurance. Conversely, a bad driving record will cause your rates to skyrocket: car insurance premiums typically increase by 29% after a DUI, 33% after an at-fault accident, and 15% after a speeding ticket in Virginia. The post-citation penalties assessed by car insurance companies after speeding tickets and at-fault accidents in Virginia align with nationwide averages, but drivers receive lower-than-average rate hikes after DUI violations. If you have a clean driving record, be sure to check for good-driving discounts from your insurer.

Decide how much car insurance you need. State requirements represent the minimum amount of coverage you need to drive … and they’re generally inadequate, even when it comes to the required liability insurance. It’s hard to say for sure how much coverage you specifically need, because it depends on the age, make and model of your car, among other things. However, most insurance experts generally recommend limits of $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per person; $300,0000 in bodily injury coverage per accident and $100,000 in property damage coverage. And, if your car is new and/or expensive, you’ll probably want collision and comprehensive insurance, too.

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.
Liability insurance: Consider this the cornerstone of all car insurance policies, given it’s the type of coverage required by nearly every state. Liability insurance actually falls into two buckets. Bodily Injury (BI) covers the cost of any injuries (or death) that result from an accident you caused, while Property Damage (PD) covers the damage made to another vehicle or piece of property your car crashes into.

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This is pretty ridiculous considering the fact that: 1st, I had regularly asked my former insurance company for reviews and discounts; 2nd, I recently got a speeding ticket in a school zone (which I am a bit ashamed to say) just before I switched; and 3rd, that $1,100 savings was before I got an additional discount for bundling my home insurance on my policy (which is a lot lower now too).
If you find yourself away from the wheel more times than not, a pay-per mile auto insurance company like Metromile may be the best company to go with. Metromile is one of the first companies in the U.S. where a bulk of a driver's premium is determined by how much they drive. How much is too much? We found that generally for Metromile to be a good deal, drivers should only drive 7,500 miles or less per year. The biggest downsides to Metromile is a mediocre record of claims handling, in addition to the company only being available in seven states: CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA.

Since most people choose one of these large insurers, NerdWallet compared quotes from the five largest auto companies in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include minimum coverage required in each state, plus collision and comprehensive coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 30-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. Use the tabs to see rates for drivers with credit in the “poor” tier and those with one at-fault accident as reported to the insurer.
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