Moving With Kids? How to Learn About the School Districts in Your New Area

Your search for the perfect house involves more than just the home itself. Beyond seeking out the perfect number of bedrooms and an entertainment-ready backyard, you also need to find the right neighborhood. Maybe that means walkability and proximity to a farmers market, or a commutable distance to your job. But if you have kids, buying a house situated in the right school district will likely move to the top of your decision-making list.

You’ll have plenty to learn about when it comes to an unfamiliar neighborhood. But how can you learn about the school districts there before you buy a house?

Where to find school district info

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources that can point you in the right direction.

“The district’s website will give you the most thorough information about the district and the schools within it,” says Erik Schwinger of Chicago-based brokerage Baird & Warner. He also recommends reaching out to the parent-teacher association of a particular school to learn more about the school, its curriculums, level of parent involvement, and what the parents really think of the school.

You can also research schools and school districts online. Samantha Scalzo, director and broker at S&S Global Corp. in Miami, lists GreatSchools and Niche as two valuable sources of online information.

Alina Adams, author of “Getting Into NYC Kindergarten” and “Getting Into NYC High School,” also recommends SchoolDigger. However, she says there’s no substitute for visiting a school and gauging your gut reaction.

“No school is one-size-fits-all, and families may be surprised that a school’s reputation is different from what they see on a tour—for better or for worse,” she says.

There’s also another source for reliable information on a potential school district: your real estate agent.

“The most established and experienced real estate agents in a buyer’s area of interest—who have had clients with children in the school system, or have children of their own in the school system—will be able to provide an overall feel of the local schools,” says Tim Smith of The Smith Group, an Orange County, CA–based Coldwell Banker Team. “This knowledge and experience will enable them to best match a buyer with the schools that meet the particular needs of their children.”


Watch: Home-Buying Checklist: 5 Things Parents Shouldn’t Forget


What to look for

There are numerous factors you should take into account when looking at school districts. These include class sizes, special needs programs, inclusion classes, language immersion programs, advanced placement programs, arts, athletics, music, and other extracurricular activities, says Alison Bernstein, president and founder at Suburban Jungle, a real estate firm focused on buyers leaving the city for the suburbs. You also want to find out as much as you can about the staff.

“You want to know about the administration (principal, vice principal, etc.) as well as the teachers. What are their education and experience levels?” says Schwinger.

Ibrahim Firat, chief educational consultant at Firat Education, in Houston, says the process of finding a school is different for each and every student. He has written books on the topic of finding the right school, and has helped families who are relocating find the right schools before they find the right home.

“Just because a [school district] is ranked high in the region/state/nation doesn’t mean it is the right place for your child, so identifying the best-fit school is the first step to a quality education,” he says.


Abandoned Houses for Sale: Where to Find Them and How to Buy Them

“Abandoned house for sale” isn’t a sign you’re likely to see on the roadside (is this method of sale even legal, you might ask?). But abandoned properties that are unclaimed by their owners are potential low-cost purchases that may actually be attractive to prospective home buyers.

An abandoned property is usually a property whose original owner is no longer in possession of the home. Due to the owner’s financial difficulties, the house is run-down and in need of repair. If the law in your area allows you to claim this type of home, it might be worth investigating.

However, some abandoned, unclaimed properties turn out to be in good condition, and the owner may want to unload the property before foreclosure. This could provide the right buyer with an opportunity to purchase the abandoned property or unclaimed home at a discount—and possibly a significant return on investment if you later flip it.

Planning to buy an abandoned or unclaimed property for sale

Purchasing an abandoned or unclaimed property involves following the same procedures as buying any other piece of real estate. Before setting out on your journey to find an abandoned home, review your financial situation.

Remember, there will be additional expenses over and above the original sale price of the property. A pre-qualification from your bank or lender will help you estimate what mortgage amount you qualify for. Many banks also require pre-approval letters, so you can make quick decisions on the property you wish to purchase.

How to find abandoned properties

Most abandoned homes are on their way to foreclosure, but the bank has not yet initiated the process. Various lists of abandoned properties or unclaimed properties are available.

Check the classifieds for homes whose listings contain certain phrases that may indicate an abandoned property, such as “immediate possession,” “must sell,” “below market value,” or “under appraisal.”

Real estate agents have valuable knowledge of abandoned properties in the area and the law relating to claiming them, and can provide you with a selection of homes about to be foreclosed on by the bank.

Some properties may look abandoned, but are not listed for sale. You might also check into the laws regarding unclaimed property and whether there is a statute of limitations on its return.

If you find an interesting unclaimed property like this, visit your county clerk’s office. It will have information about the homeowners, the home’s current appraised value, liens, or tax problems.

You could then try tracking down the owners and asking them to sell their property. If the property has had liens or tax problems, the owners might be more willing to sell.

Placing a bid on property with no owner

Assuming you have found a potential home and been pre-approved, you will want to figure in the costs that will be needed to get the home into good condition. Get a thorough maintenance inspection performed on the property, and note what needs to be fixed and how much it will cost.

Claiming a property like this also involves adding in the cost of the appraisal fee, pest and lead inspection fees, title insurance, closing costs, and other legal fees.

Crunch the numbers before you consider a bid for the owner. A real estate agent can also accompany you to the house and point out the extra expenses you will incur after the purchase of this property. The agent can also help you figure out how high your bid should be. Look for the right opportunities, and you will find the home that is just right for your budget.


Best Apartment Communities in DC | Spring 2018

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The Best Apartment Communities in Washington DC | Spring 2018 Edition

Washington, DC has over 3,500 apartment communities to choose from when deciding where to live….To say apartment hunting in DC is overwhelming would be a slight understatement.  We culled the options by checking out review sites like Google, Yelp, and Apartment Ratings. Below is our list of our favorites and what the reviews say are the best apartment communities in DC.

This isn’t the first time Park Chelsea is making the list of Best Apartment Communities in DC.  In 2017, they made Washington City Paper’s Best of lists.  The warm classic finishes paired with an endless list of amenities make Park Chelsea a must see.  Residents at Park Chelsea get access to free weekly yoga and spin classes, monthly social events like mixology and pizza making demonstrations, and a list of amenities that include an indoor pool and steam room and rooftop pool with monument views. While Park Chelsea is just about 100% occupied, phase 2 of the community, The Agora just opened.  Residents of the two buildings get reciprocal access to each other’s amenities. And when the Whole Foods opens on the ground floor of the Agora, you’ll be saying Yes to this address.

Brunswick House is not only rated one of the best apartments in DC, but its ratings on multiple reviews sites also rank it as one of the best apartments in the country.  Interestingly, Brunswick House is not a new luxury apartment community.  Instead, it is an older, albeit well-maintained building with a stellar location and a phenomenal staff.  Reviews describe it as, “a place with a warm sense of community, wonderful neighbors, and an amazing management team.”  Brunswick House is a rent control building, meaning that rent is only increased a marginal amount each year.  This makes it the best deal in the city for anyone planning to stay in one apartment for an extended period.  Located just off of the Dupont Metro station, you can live a car-free and carefree life at this community.

When ranking apartments as the best in DC, one of the factors must be location.  The Swift at Petworth is one block from the metro and has a Safeway grocery built on the first floor pushing this apartment community to the top of our list. The Swift at Petworth apartment finishes are stunning and include all the right extras; washers and dryers in the apartments and kitchens to die for. If you are new to DC, you’l appreciate the programmed resident events.  One review stated, “The events they hold and the community atmosphere they create truly sets this building apart.”

City Market at O isn’t the newest building in DC, but they continue to rank high in Google and Apartment Rating reviews.  The amenities at this building show how the developer really thought about the residents and their needs.  The indoor/outdoor fireplace is one of our favorite features.  They also thought about your furry family members’ needs with a rooftop pet park.   One review summed it up with, “In my experience, City Market at O is the best apartment community in the city. The staff are friendly, the residents are sociable, and the amenities are top-notch.”

Located in the Cathedral heights neighborhood of DC, 3333 Wisconsin is one of DC’s best apartment communities for those looking for a bit more residential feel.  The apartment community backs up to a neighborhood full of gorgeous houses and parks and is just a stone’s throw away from the National Cathedral.  Runners and walkers love the wide sidewalks lining the streets and mature trees that provide fantastic shade.  But this neighborhood isn’t all houses!  DC institutions like 2Amy’s Pizza and Cactus Cantina are right outside 3333 Wisconsin’s front door.  You also have a Giant grocery store, CVS, Barcelona Restuarant, Solidcore, Pure Barre and countless other conveniences.  The apartment community has a theater room, fitness center and a rooftop deck to take in the city views.  One reviewer wrote, “Convenient location, excellent amenities and amazing staff. The concierge service in this building was impeccable.”

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Also published on Medium.


This L.A. Traditional was Once Home to Legendary Actor Burt Lancaster

If you’re nostalgic for the Golden Age of Hollywood and want to capture part of the charm of the period, here’s a little something to take you back: legendary actor Burt Lancaster’s family home in Beachwood Canyon.

Lancaster, a four-time nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actor (with one win under his belt), starred in many iconic roles throughout his 45-year career in film and television. He’s best know for his roles in The Killers (1946) starring alongside Ava Gardner, From Here to Eternity (1953), Elmer Gentry (1960), and Field of Dreams (1989). The American Film Institute ranks Lancaster as #19 of the greatest male stars of classic Hollywood cinema.

The actor lived in a four-bedroom, four-bath home on Beachwood Drive, built back in 1941 by one of the city’s premier architects, Max Maltzman. Known best for his grand, high-style Los Angeles apartments and hotels, Maltzman had a very distinctive style which he imprinted on Lancaster’s traditional-style home.

Burt Lancaster’s former home in Los Angeles. Image credit: The Agency

Luckily, Maltzman’s design has gone largely untouched throughout the years, with no major exterior updates being made. The interiors, however, have undergone significant changes, to bring the property up to modern standards.

Burt Lancaster’s former home in Los Angeles. Image credit: The Agency
Burt Lancaster’s former home in Los Angeles. Image credit: The Agency

The home is currently on the market for $2.399 million, with Josh Myler and Jeff Kohl of The Agency holding the listing.

With a total of 2,800 square feet of living space, the Beachwood Canyon home has a large master suite with fireplace, and two additional bedrooms that open to a screened porch with lush hillside views, all located on the second floor. There’s an additional bedroom on the ground floor that can be used as a home office or gym.

Burt Lancaster’s former home in Los Angeles. Image credit: The Agency

The updated interior features a spacious open plan with great flow for entertaining, with multiple French doors opening the rooms of the house to the sunny outside — where you’ll find a private fenced backyard with mature trees, terraced gardens, and plunge pool.

Burt Lancaster’s former home in Los Angeles. Image credit: The Agency
Burt Lancaster’s former home in Los Angeles. Image credit: The Agency

More celebrity homes

Elon Musk was Serious about Selling his Possessions, Lists Two Homes on ZillowMindy Kaling is Moving Into Frank Sinatra’s Beach House in Malibu, Known as Ol’ Blue Eyes’ “Happiest Place on Earth”
Dita Von Teese’s Quirky Los Angeles Home is Every Aspiring Diva’s Dream
The Story of the Opulent $120 Million Manor that Aaron Spelling Built in Holmby Hills


Find the Best Car Insurance Company in North Carolina

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Fortunately for residents of the Tar Heel state, North Carolina has some of the lowest car insurance premiums in the country. They’re more than $450 lower than the U.S. national average at $1,457.

Even so, no one wants to pay more for car insurance than they need to, even in low premium states like North Carolina. For that reason, we’ve identified seven companies we believe qualify as providing the best car insurance in North Carolina.

That doesn’t mean all the companies on our list are the cheapest – though some definitely are. But our list also reflects companies that blend plenty of policy options and discounts, with a strong financial rating, and a demonstrated willingness to pay claims when necessary.

Coincidentally, I have my own car insurance through Progressive which sits at the top of our list (though I don’t live in North Carolina). While Progressive is a strong competitor in North Carolina, we absolutely recommend you shop between carriers. The only way to know which company is the right car insurance provider for you is to get quotes from several. To make it easy for you, you can use the quote tool below from our insurance partner to check rates from several companies:

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The Most Important Factors When Deciding on Car Insurance in North Carolina

We strongly suggest against the practice of choosing a car insurance company based primarily on premium. One of the main reasons is because one company may be the lowest only because they’re excluding certain types of coverage you should have.

For that reason, we recommend using the following strategies when shopping for the best car insurance in North Carolina:

Get quotes for identical coverage from each company. The only real way to know if one policy is cheaper than another is by comparing the coverage they provide. One company is only cheaper than another if they provide identical coverage at a lower premium.

The state-required minimum coverage is probably not right for you. Minimum coverage is just what the name implies, and it should generally be considered only by young drivers and those who have no assets. If you have the minimum coverage, another driver can pursue legal action against you for additional funds under North Carolina law. Higher coverage limits will be your best defense against that outcome.

Get quotes from several companies. Yes, shopping for car insurance is not one of life’s more pleasurable experiences. But you owe it to yourself to investigate at least a few different companies. Once again, use the quote tool above to get multiple quotes before making your choice.

Increase your deductible to reduce your premium. This is a better strategy than lowering your coverage limits. Increasing your deductible from $500 to $2,000 can drastically lower your premium while giving you the benefit of high coverage. You can cover the higher deductible by adding additional funds in your emergency savings in case you’re involved in an at-fault accident.

The 7 Best Car Insurance Companies in North Carolina

There is no one best car insurance company for all drivers or even for most. Many companies specialize in certain niches that will make them the best choice for you. To help you in that effort, below is a list of the companies in North Carolina we believe to be the best in specific niches:

  1. Progressive
  2. North Carolina Farm Bureau
  3. GEICO
  4. State Farm
  5. Auto-Owners
  6. Erie Insurance
  7. Liberty Mutual

Author’s Pick: Progressive is the company I’ve been using for several years, and it has provided excellent customer service and low premiums in two different states. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the best company for you. You owe it to yourself to investigate several companies to find the best coverage at the lowest price. In fact, North Carolina is the first state we’ve ranked Progressive as our top choice.

Special Mention: USAA — Best for Members of the Military (But Not Available to the General Public)

USAA would rank in the top two or three companies in North Carolina. But we had to exclude them because they provide coverage only for current and previous members of the U.S. military and their families. As great as it is, their car insurance is not available to the general public.

However, if you’re a current or former member of the U.S. military – and North Carolina has many – USAA will almost certainly be the top choice. They offer some of the lowest premiums in North Carolina and have one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the Southeastern US. All this in addition to the fact that they offer a wide range of other financial services to military members.

1. Progressive

The Basics:

Policy Options Gap coverage
Medical payments
Rental car reimbursement
Roadside assistance
Custom parts and equipment value
Rideshare coverage
Discounts Snapshot app ($145 average discount)
Bundle auto and property
Name Your Price Tool (enter your desired premium, and Progressive will design a policy),
Multi-policy (5% average discount)
Multi-car (12% average discount)
Continuous coverage
Good student
Distant students (more than 100 miles from home)
Homeowner (average discount nearly 10%)
Online quote (4% average discount)
Sign online (8.5% average discount)
Pay in full
Automatic payment
Small accident forgiveness – premium won’t be increased for a claim of less than $500
Large accident forgiveness – no rate increase in an accident if you have been a customer for a least 5 years, and no accidents for the past 3 years

Premiums: $645 (THE lowest average premium on our list)

Customer satisfaction rating: 824 (#11 on the J.D. Power Survey)

Financial strength rating: A+

Why it Made the List

Progressive has the lowest statewide average premium in North Carolina, which by itself might be enough to put it in the top position overall. But a big part of the low premium undoubtedly has to do with the many discounts the company offers, which is probably more than any other insurance company!

But Progressive also has some solid policy options, including ridesharing and custom parts and equipment replacement. It also occupies a number of “best for” categories, including best overall, cheapest overall, best for senior drivers, and one of three companies offering coverage for rideshare drivers.

What Holds it Back

Progressive places only #12 in customer satisfaction, in a tie with Grange Mutual. That’s only slightly below the average customer satisfaction rating for the North Central States. But we’d feel better if it ranked at least in the top 10.

2. North Carolina Farm Bureau

The Basics:

Policy Options None indicated
Discounts Multi-line discounts (home and auto)
Years of diving experience
Pay-in-full discount
Married drivers
Combining collision and comprehensive with liability
Higher bodily injury limits discount
Safety equipment

Premiums: $723 (3rd lowest average premium on our list)

Customer satisfaction rating: 854 (#4 on the J.D. Power Survey)

Financial strength rating: A

Why it Made the List

North Carolina Farm Bureau offers a strong combination of having the third-lowest statewide average premium in North Carolina, as well as ranking #4 in customer satisfaction. And much like Progressive, it appears in many of our “best for” categories, including best for minimum coverage, drivers with a DUI or DWI, and drivers with one at-fault accident. This is clearly a company with strong niches.

What Holds it Back

North Carolina Farm Bureau lists a limited number of discounts. But more significantly, the company does not disclose what policy options it offers. This may have to do with the company’s emphasis on local agents, and a desire to have customers call in for additional information. That in itself is a bit of a negative factor in an economy where just about every business operates primarily or entirely online.


The Basics:

Policy Options Emergency roadside assistance
Rental reimbursement
Mechanical breakdown
Motorcycles, ATVs and recreational vehicles
Collector autos
Umbrella coverage for higher policy limits
Mexico Auto Insurance
Discounts Safety equipment
New vehicle
Good driver (five years accident-free)
Drivers over 50
Seatbelt use
Defensive driving
Driver’s education
Good student
Federal employees
Membership & Employee (in up to 500 groups)
Emergency deployment

Premiums: $734 (4th lowest average premium on our list)

Customer satisfaction rating: 838 (#7 on the J.D. Power Survey)

Financial strength rating: A+

Why it Made the List

GEICO made #3 on our list on the strength of having the fourth lowest average premium in North Carolina, a very respectable #7 rating in customer satisfaction, and a financial strength rating of A+. The company also fills some “best for” categories, including best for good drivers, drivers with poor credit, and ridesharing drivers. The company is also an excellent second choice behind USAA as an auto insurance provider for members of the U.S. military.

GEICO also has a long list of discounts, and they provide the percentages of those discounts on their website. If you qualify for some of those discounts, GEICO may be your preferred choice.

What Holds it Back

GEICO doesn’t offer gap coverage, which will be a problem for anyone who owes more on their loan or lease than their vehicle is worth. It can result in a big out-of-pocket hit if your vehicle is totaled.

4. State Farm

The Basics:

Policy Options Car rental
Travel expenses for an accident more than 50 miles from home
Medical payments
Emergency roadside assistance
Sports cars
Antique classic cars
Small business vehicle
Discounts Accident-free
Anti-theft equipment
Defensive driving course
Drive Safe & Save – driving monitoring app
Good driving
Good student
Vehicle safety equipment
Student away at school
Steer Clear Safe Driver (complete education requirements and no at-fault accidents or moving violations in the previous three years – both met before turning 25).

Premiums: $764 (5th lowest premium on our list)

Customer satisfaction rating: 853 (#5 on the J.D. Power Survey)

Financial strength rating: A++ (highest)

Why it Made the List

State Farm as the fifth lowest statewide average premiums on our list, and ranks #5 in customer satisfaction. The company also has the highest financial strength rating possible, at A++. But the company also got our nod for the best carrier for a less than perfect driving record and best for students. It’s also one of three companies that offers ridesharing coverage. And much like GEICO and Progressive, State Farm offers an extensive list of discounts to help you minimize your premium.

What Holds it Back

There’s no indication State Farm provides gap coverage. This is a critical missing part, since many drivers owe more on their vehicles than those vehicles are worth. Gap coverage is designed specifically to pay off excess debt. If it’s not offered, you’ll be on the hook to pay the difference.

5. Auto-Owners Insurance

The Basics:

Policy Options Classic cars
Gap coverage
Converted or modified vehicles
Road trouble service
New car replacement
Rental car coverage
Additional expense – to cover cost of your stranded away from home
Diminished value – protects your vehicle value if it declines even after repair
Loan/lease gap coverage
Personal Automobile Plus – create a package of 10 optional coverages for one competitive rate; includes identity theft, rekeying locks, replacing your cell phone and more
Discounts Multi-policy
On-time payments (36 months or more)
Paperless billing
Good student
Student away at school
Teen Driver Monitoring
Paid-in-full premium
Advance quote
Vehicle safety features
Favorable loss history

Premiums: $861 (6th lowest average premium on our list)

Customer satisfaction rating: 852 (#6 on the J.D. Power Survey)

Financial strength rating: A++

Why it Made the List

Auto-Owners Insurance has both the sixth lowest statewide average premium level, and ranks #6 in customer satisfaction. It also has a top-of-the-line A++ rating from A.M. Best, the highest financial strength rating possible in the insurance industry. We also believe Auto-Owners is the best company for young drivers. Additionally, they have a more than adequate list of both policy options and discounts to help you customize your policy.

Auto-Owners also has a long list of policy options and discounts. The Personal Automobile Plus Package enables you to build a policy with as many as 10 coverages, all at a very competitive rate.

What Holds it Back

Auto-Owners Insurance makes car insurance available in about half the states in the US. If you have coverage with this company in Georgia, there’s about a 50% chance you’ll need a new carrier if you move to a different state.

6. Erie Insurance

The Basics:

Policy Options Pet coverage
Personal items coverage – up to $350
Auto glass repair
Roadside and rental bundle
Locksmith services
ERIE Auto Plus – comes with a diminishing deductible, a $10,000 death benefit, additional days of transportation expense coverage, waiver of deductible in certain situations, and increased limits for specific coverages
ERIE Rate Lock – your rates will only change if you add or remove a vehicle or driver, or change the address where you keep your car parked
Discounts Safe driving
Car safety equipment
Multi-policy (bundling)
Reduced usage
Young drivers
Annual payment plan

Premiums: $913 (7th lowest average premium on our list)

Customer satisfaction rating: 870 (#2 on the J.D. Power Survey)

Financial strength rating: A+

Why it Made the List

Erie Insurance isn’t one of the best-known car insurance companies in America, but it appears on our lists of the best car insurance in multiple states. The company is seventh out of seven companies on our list for statewide average premiums. But at $913, they’re still more than $180 below the North Carolina statewide average. But even more important, the company ranks #2 in the all-important category of customer satisfaction. This is an excellent indication Erie Insurance pays claims reliably.

What Holds it Back

Erie has an interesting rate lock option (the Erie Rate Lock) that may sound attractive to many consumers. They’ll honor the rate lock – unless you have a significant policy change. If you do, the rate will be recalculated and may go higher. It doesn’t look quite like the guarantee it promises to be.

7. Liberty Mutual

The Basics:

Policy Options Lower or eliminate your collision deductible
Lifetime repair guarantee
New car replacement
Better car replacement
Rental car reimbursement
Roadside assistance
Gap coverage
Original replacement parts for your car
Coverage for teachers (protection for your car on school grounds)
Driving in Mexico
Discounts Accident forgiveness
Online purchase
Automatic payment
Pay in full
Paperless policy
RightTrack (save up to 30% for good driving behavior)
Active, reserve or retired military
Early shopper
Good student
Student away at school
Alternative energy vehicle
Safety equipment
Accident- and violation-free

Premiums: $714 (2nd lowest average premium on our list)

Customer satisfaction rating: 809 (#16 on the J.D. Power Survey)

Financial strength rating: A

Why it Made the List

Liberty Mutual has the second lowest statewide average premium of the companies on our list. At $714 per year, it’s more than $380 below the North Carolina statewide average. That factor alone guarantees it a place on any list of the best car insurance in North Carolina. But the company also offers more policy options and discounts than most of its competitors. They’ll give you a better opportunity to customize your policy, with the assurance that Liberty Mutual is one of the lowest cost providers in the state to begin with.

What Holds it Back

Liberty Mutual ranks a disappointing #16 in customer satisfaction. This could be an indication they’re not as good at paying claims as the other companies on this list. Also, the company didn’t place in any of the “best for” categories on our list. But that wouldn’t necessarily stop it from being the right car insurance company for you

How We Found the Best Car Insurance in North Carolina

To show that the evaluation of our list is objective, we used the following criteria to determine our rankings. In each case, the car insurance company was rated based on the combination of these factors.

Policy Options

The best car insurance policy is one that is customized to your own personal needs and driver profile. The best way to make that happen is with a company that offers a large number of policy options. For that reason, the number of policy options offered by a car insurance company is a significant factor in our ranking.


Discounts are still another way to customize your policy. But just as important, they also provide an opportunity for you to get a lower premium based on specific factors that may offer significant reductions in your premium. Discounts are another major factor in our list of the best car insurance in North Carolina.


Just like everyone else, we understand the central role premiums play in determining car insurance selection. Premiums are one of the major contributing factors to our list of what we believe to be the best car insurance providers in North Carolina. But at the same time, we’ve been careful not to overemphasize it. It has to be balanced against a company’s demonstrated willingness and ability to pay claims (which is the last criteria below).

We obtained those averages from The Zebra, which is determined to be a reliable source of pricing information. But please understand these are only a starting point. In the insurance universe, a company with the lowest average premium may not necessarily end up being the lowest cost policy for you. Once again, get quotes from multiple companies!

Customer Satisfaction Rating

We’ve given customer satisfaction equal weight with premiums in determining our list. That’s because it includes consumer’s experience with the claims paying side of each company on the list. It does little good to pay a rock-bottom premium only to have the company fail to pay a claim in an accident. After all, paying claims is the main reason for car insurance in the first place.

We’re using the J.D. Power U.S. Auto Insurance Study, released in June, 2019. More specifically, we’ve relied on the Overall Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking – Southeast Region, which includes North Carolina.

Insurance Company Financial Strength

Financial strength indicates an insurance company’s ability to meet its financial obligations, which includes its ability to pay claims. Cheap car insurance will do little more than satisfy the minimum legal requirements in North Carolina, but could leave you with unpaid claims.

For that reason, we’ve included only companies rated either “Superior” or “Excellent” for financial strength by the insurance industry rating service, A.M. Best.

Their ratings for companies with financial strength of “Good” or better are as follows:

  • Superior: A+, A++
  • Excellent: A, A-
  • Good: B, B+

We have not included any companies rated lower than “A”.

What You Need to Know About Car Insurance Laws in North Carolina

Car insurance laws and requirements vary from one state to another. Regulations in North Carolina are as follows:

State Minimum Insurance Requirements

The minimum North Carolina car insurance requirement is “30/60/25”, broken down as follows:

  • Bodily Injury: $30,000 for injury or death to one person as a result of an auto accident.
  • Bodily Injury: $60,000 for injury or death to more than one person as a result of an auto accident.
  • Property Damage: Covering all necessary and reasonable medical expenses up to $25,000 for a covered injury, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $30,000 for injury or death to one person as a result of an auto accident, and $60,000 for two or more. This coverage is usually bundled with your regular liability coverage, and not carried as a separate provision.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: $25,000

Optional car insurance coverage under North Carolina law includes:

  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Gap coverage
  • Rental cars (up to 22 days)
  • Towing and labor

If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, the lender will require you to have both collision and comprehensive coverage, and possibly Gap coverage.

North Carolina State Car Insurance FAQs

Is North Carolina a “no-fault” state?
No. Under North Carolina driving regulations, drivers can pursue claims against the at-fault party in an accident. And if that other person has insufficient coverage, you can legally pursue payment from the at-fault party personally.

Under a no-fault system, you would file a claim against your own insurance company regardless of who is at fault. In addition, the ability to pursue legal remedies is typically limited.

What will happen if I don’t have car insurance in North Carolina?
Insurance companies operating in North Carolina are required to notify the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles anytime liability insurance is canceled or coverage lapses. The DMV will send a liability insurance termination notification, and you will then have 10 days to respond. If you don’t, you’ll be subject to the following penalties:

  • First insurance lapse: $50
  • Second insurance lapse: $100
  • Subsequent insurance lapses: $150
  • Restoration fee: $50

Will my North Carolina car insurance cover me if I’m driving in another state?
Under what’s known as a broadening clause, your North Carolina policy will automatically extend to driving in other states. This includes states that operate under a no-fault system. It’s typically included in the policies of most car insurance companies.

What type of factors will affect the premium I’ll pay for my car insurance in North Carolina?
Though there can be a number of factors based on the individual insurance company issuing your policy, there are four primary determining factors:

Your driving record. This will include both moving violations and claims for-at fault accidents. Fortunately, there is typically a time limit after which these infractions are dropped from your record for insurance purposes.

Where you live. If you live in a highly-populated metropolitan area or city, you’ll pay a higher premium due to the greater likelihood of an accident. Premiums will generally be lower in small towns and rural areas.

The type of vehicle you drive. Generally speaking, the more expensive a vehicle is the more it will cost to insure. But certain types of vehicles have higher premiums, including sports cars, SUVs, and luxury vehicles.

The number of miles you drive. Someone who drives 30 miles in each direction, each day to and from work will be charged a higher premium than another whose commute is just 10 miles in each direction.

Summary: Best Car Insurance in North Carolina


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Good Financial Cents, and author of the personal finance book Soldier of Finance. Jeff is an Iraqi combat veteran and served 9 years in the Army National Guard. His work is regularly featured in Forbes, Business Insider, and Entrepreneur.