Whether your customers are chaperoning little ghouls and goblins around the neighborhood, hosting trick-or-treaters or going to a costume party, we’ve put together some tips to ensure the biggest risk they’ll face is a candy-induced cavity.


Safety tips for trick-or-treating

Don’t let your ghosts be invisible – Ensure your kids are visible while trick-or-treating by creatively decorating their costume and candy bags with reflective tape or stickers. Glow sticks and flashlights (with new batteries) will also make children more visible to drivers.

Hospital visits are horrifying – Be sure to avoid masks that obstruct vision and check that costumes fit correctly. Stick to well-lit streets and never cut through dark yards or alleys. This can prevent serious injuries from trip and falls.

It’s ghastly going alone – Until they reach the age of 12, children should be accompanied by a responsible adult. Even after that, they should not trick-or-treat alone. They should only go to houses with the front-porch lights on. Let them know to never enter a house or car to get a treat.

Plan your haunting beforehand – For children that are old enough to trick-or-treat alone, plan an acceptable route and agree on a time they should return before they leave the house. If possible, they should also carry a cell phone so they can stay connected.


Making your home safe for Halloween

Get your sidewalk neat before they trick-or-treat – Walk the path from the street to your door and clear anything that trick-or-treaters could trip over or slip and injure themselves. This includes gardening equipment, hoses, toys, potted plants, lawn ornaments and even Halloween decorations that block the path to your front door.

Make your yard spooky, not dangerous – Be sure to clean up before candy-fueled children charge through your yard. Remove dead branches, sticks and acorns, rake up the leaves, fill in holes and trim your hedges to prevent any injuries.

A well-lit driveway can still be scary – There’s nothing scarier for a homeowner than seeing a masked trick-or-treater blindly stagger up your dark driveway. Help them out by turning on all of your exterior lights and lining your driveway and sidewalk with lights or luminaries. Never use any open flames, which could lead to disaster and injury. Instead, use LED tea lights or other decorative Halloween lights to prevent a fire. These should also be used in jack-o-lanterns in lieu of candles.

Keep your beasts in the dungeon – It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a vampire bat or a kitten as a pet, a constantly ringing doorbell can be too much excitement for your animal. To keep your pet from sprinting out of your open front door and possibly injuring someone, keep them confined to another room in the house.


Safe driving tips for Halloween

No speed demons allowed – If you are driving through a residential area, drive as slow as possible. Avoid passing stopped vehicles in case they are dropping off children. You should also be especially cautious when entering and exiting driveways.

The horrors of distraction – On Halloween, neighborhoods are filled with children unexpectedly darting out into the street. Put away your cell phone and don’t look away from the road to ensure you don’t injure any trick-or-treaters. You should also never drive while wearing a mask.

Turn signals aren’t terrifying – Communicate your intentions to pedestrians and other drivers by using your turn signals. If you’re dropping off trick-or-treaters, pull over and use your hazard lights.

Drinking on Halloween can be a nightmare – It doesn’t matter if you’re driving or walking, drinking on Halloween can be a deadly choice. The combination of alcohol and the increased number of people walking in the streets at night makes Halloween the most dangerous night of the year for pedestrians.

Regular Home Upkeep to Avoid Accidents

Your home should not put your safety at risk. Skipping home maintenance and necessary repairs can increase the likelihood that you or someone you care about may injure themselves on your property or in your home. Unintentional injuries can result from electrical shocks, cuts, fires and more in or around the home. How can a homeowner do their utmost to prevent such accidents?

Regular maintenance can help homeowners keep family members and guests safer on their property. Understand what to include as part of the routine maintenance tasks and repairs to reduce potential injury risk in and around a home.

Electrical Issues

Older homes may require extensive electrical work and replacing old wiring or a circuit breaker may be necessary to insure the safety of the electric system. However, new construction homes may also experience an electrical problem over the years and a minor shock is not the worst of the issues that may occur when an issue goes ignored. When purchasing a new home, a thorough inspection is important for finding any hidden issues like these before moving in. Flickering lights and outlets that are not working properly may be signs of a problem. It is important for homeowners to know which electrical problems they may be able to safely handle themselves and those that should be turned over to be addressed by a licensed electrician. Electrical shocks and electrical fires can be deadly.

Broken Windows

Windows may break and a homeowner may need to spend an hour or two to replace a broken window pane and remove broken glass. This will help prevent the likelihood that someone in the home will be injured by coming into contact with a sharp shard of glass. But this is not the only reason to repair a broken window. Other aspects of older windows, such as broken latches, may make it easy for an intruder to get inside a home. Address such problems as part of a home’s regular maintenance. Remember to wear long gloves and cover any exposed skin when repairing a window and dealing with broken glass.

Mowing and Landscaping

It is important to address the exterior as well as the interior of a home in order to prevent an accident. Mowing the lawn regularly, trimming back bushes and trees, raking and snow removal are all important aspects of regular home maintenance. Keeping paths clear of debris and addressing uneven steps or pathways can help a homeowner avoid experiencing a slip and fall on their own property.

Do a Walkthrough

Walk throughout the rooms and entryways of a home to make note of any areas that may pose a potential hazard. Those homes with elderly residents may require additional attention to reduce the potential of a fall, such as the installation of grab bars and non-skid pads in showers. Make repairs to warped wooden floors, loose floorboards and railings to reduce the possibility of an accident. For homes that may be visited by those with mobility issues, extra precautions with rugs and exposed wiring may need to be taken to prevent an injury. Performing a safety inventory of a home should take into account the needs of and potential risks posed to all occupants and visitors, such as elderly parents, young children and pets.

Important Update about Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, may pose a serious threat to Florida and parts of the Southeast beginning this weekend. We wanted to quickly reach out to you and make sure that you and your family are up to date and fully prepared for any potential weather conditions that may strike your area.

Basic Preparedness Tips

  • Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
  • Take photos or a video of everything inside your home.
  • Stock up on water and non-perishable food items.
  • Prepare an emergency kit in a waterproof container or bag. Include your insurance documents, other important documents (e.g. birth certificates and vehicle registrations), flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, phone chargers and prescription bottles. Keep this kit with you.
  • Click here to access your insurance policy information and a list of all our carriers and their claims numbers. (Scroll to the bottom for the list)
  • Designate an out-of-area contact that your family members can call in case you are separated.
  • If there is time, board up windows and place sandbags around your property.
  • If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.
  • Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”

Preparing Your Home

  • Turn off breaker boxes prior to evacuating: This will help prevent electrical surges from destroying your appliances. Also, in the event of water infiltration, it prevents shorts that can lead to fires.
  • Never drive through standing water. Underlying currents could carry your vehicle away or trap you in rising floodwaters. Find an alternate route. Know your evacuation route and follow the direction of your state and local officials.
  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.

Hurricane Watch

Hurricane watch = conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.

Steps to take:

Hurricane Warning

Hurricane warning = conditions are expected within 36 hrs.

Steps to take:

  • Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.
  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • Follow the hurricane timeline preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.

Next Steps

To see the full overview of recommended hurricane preparedness tips, visit

As always, you can count on us to be there to answer any coverage questions you may have!



With all the storms that have been hitting the state of North Carolina recently, damage to your property caused by water may be fresh on your mind, making it a good time to review what is and isn’t covered by most homeowners policies.

First and foremost, it’s key to remember that water damage must be sudden and accidental. Anything resulting from unresolved maintenance issues that gradually causes damage is usually not covered.

There’s more to it than that, however. Our friends at Safeco have outlined some guidelines of what to expect when your home is affected by unfriendly H2O.

Occurrence: Toilet or shower drain gets clogged from an obstruction on the premises. It overflows, causing damage.

Is it covered? Yes, by the homeowners policy.

Occurrence: Tree root in the property’s yard blocks a drain and causes overflow.

Is it covered? Yes, by the homeowners policy.

Occurrence: Sewer line in the street backs up and causes an overflow through a drain in the household.

Is it covered? Yes, but only by an optional endorsement.

Occurrence: A sump pump gets overwhelmed and causes an overflow into a home’s basement.

Is it covered? Yes, but only by an optional endorsement.

Occurrence: Flooding. River overflows or dam breaks, causing water to flow over the surface into the house.

Is it covered? No, not covered by the homeowners policy or the optional endorsement.

Occurrence: Overflow originating off-premises. Sewer line breaks in the street and causes water to flow over the surface into the house.

Is it covered? No, not covered by the homeowners policy or the optional endorsement.

Occurrence: Sub-surface water. Swimming pool or sprinkler system leaks underground and causes water to seep through the foundation.

Is it covered? No, not covered by the homeowners policy or the optional endorsement.

Safeco’s homeowners policy provides coverage for water that backs up through sewers or drains as long as it originates on premises. The optional endorsement expands the coverage to provide better protection. This optional endorsement is called “Escape of Water from a Sump, Sump Pump or Drain on the Residence Premises,* and does two things. It provides a “give back” of coverage for overflow originating on premises from a sump pump or similar system that is otherwise excluded in the base contract. Also, coverage is expanded to include backup or overflow from causes originating off premises as long as the backup or overflow itself occurs on premises.

The key words to remember in any case are “on premises” or “off premises.” A simple question to ask yourself is “Are my neighbors affected by this water as well?” If the answer is no, then there is a good chance you might be covered. If the answer is yes, then you more than likely do not have a claim.

Floods are the most commonly excluded occurrences from home insurance coverage and damage resulting from flooding is only covered by a flood policy through the government’s National Flood Insurance Program.

Something else worth pointing out is that most insurance policies will not cover the source of the water damage without a specific endorsement. For example, damage caused by a busted washing machine will be repaired but the claim will not pay for a new washing machine.

As we always mention in these blog entries, every company is different, as is every occurrence. As they say in the commercials, “results may vary.” If the water source is not clear, an inspector may be sent to determine the cause of the water damage, and ultimately, if the claim is covered or not. Coverage is fact-driven and each claim will be evaluated on its own merits and circumstances for coverage determination. Decisions are ultimately left up to the adjusters at your respective insurance company.


You may have heard of – or even been asked to sign – what is called a Consent to Rate (CTR) form as it pertains to your auto or home insurance. The more you read about it, the more confusing it can sound, so we’ve tried to simplify it for you.

North Carolina has a Rate Bureau that sets the rates for all the insurance companies in the state for auto and property. The Rate Bureau sets a “suggested” rate for physical damage (your comprehensive and collision coverage). This suggested rate is similar to a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that you come across when buying a new car. Though there is a sticker price for the car, the dealer can sell it for a different amount that best suits their business.

This is kind of how it works with an insurance company. If they charge a rate that is beyond the suggested amount, then they must retain the CTR form with your signature to continue charging said rate. Their rates may be higher for any number of reasons but it usually relates to the amount of risk a driver presents based on their driving history, location or vehicle usage. While the state suggests the rates for physical damage, they don’t actually offer physical damage coverage (they only deal with the required liability coverage when they are ceded a policy) and therefore, insurance companies argue that the state’s suggestions don’t accurately reflect the risk involved.

The CTR form is usually included among the other paperwork that needs to be signed when a new policy is started, but it may arise at renewal time if you’ve had any claims or tickets during the previous term, or if you’ve added coverage that you didn’t previously have.

It’s not against the law for insurance companies to charge rates that are higher than the Bureau’s suggested rates, but it is against the law for them to do so without your acknowledgement. That is why the insurance companies are so strict when they send you this form. If you do not sign it in a timely fashion, they will remove the physical damage coverage from your auto policy, or even cancel the policy altogether in the case of homeowner’s insurance.

The language on a CTR form can sound intimidating. After reading it, you might ask, “Why would I agree to let them charge me more than the state says they should?” It’s a legitimate question, but there are two key things to keep in mind.

For one, you already agreed to the rate when the company provided you a quote and you decided to move forward with it. If you hadn’t already decided that quote was reasonable for your needs, you wouldn’t be getting the CTR form. Signing the form is just the formality of acknowledging the rate that the company quoted in the first place and finalizing the contract.

Secondly, signing the form does not mean the insurance company will immediately start charging you more. Your rates will not increase during a policy term unless you make change requests that alter the coverage in some way. Of course, your rates may rise at renewal time, but that is common for all policies and is oftentimes for other reasons as described here.

To make a long story short (and to put it bluntly), you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to signing the CTR form. If you want maintain the coverage on your vehicle or home without interruption, you need to sign the form (continuing with the premium you already agreed to!). If you don’t sign it, the insurance company will remove your coverage (not because they want to, but because they have to) and your property won’t be fixed in the event of a claim. Your third choice is to go shopping for a new insurance company, but the CTR is a state-wide mandate and even if you find cheaper insurance, your savings might be offset by the fees you will incur with the current company by cancelling early, as described here.

Again, your premium will not change from what you were quoted upon signing the CTR form. If it does once your renewal date rolls around, give us a call and we will review your file to make sure you are with the best company for your needs.


Many folks may be traveling to see their moms this Mother’s Day weekend and if not, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to summer vacation season. Before you hit the road to wherever you’re headed, make sure you’ve had proper maintenance done on your vehicle. Keeping up with routine maintenance items is a key factor in avoiding unnecessary accidents and indirectly, higher insurance premium costs.

To ensure a poorly maintained vehicle doesn’t contribute to an accident, our friends at National General have put together a few ways you can keep your cars in top condition.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 9% of all car crashes in the United States were preceded by some sort of issue with the tires of the vehicle (e.g. tread separation, under-inflation, or blowouts). Properly maintained tires improve gas mileage, stopping ability and handling of the vehicle.

Check the air pressure in your tires (including the spare) at least once a month. This will also give you the chance to check for cracks in the sidewall and the amount of tread on the tires. Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles, or as often as the vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. A periodic alignment of the tires will ensure even wear and extend the life of your tires. Check your owner’s manual for specific information about tire pressure, rotation and alignment.

Fewer accidents are completely attributed to failure or degradation of brakes than tires, but poorly maintained brakes still contribute to thousands of accidents every year. When brake pads wear down too far, they can damage the rotors, leading to costly repairs and possible brake failure. Inspect the pads and rotors for wear annually. Take your vehicle in for repairs if you start hearing squeaking or scraping, your vehicle veers to one side or the brake pedal pulses when braking. These are signs of worn brakes and will lead to diminished braking capability.

Windows and lights
Clear visibility gives you the extra time needed to react in an emergency situation. Keep your windows (both inside and outside), mirrors and lights clear of obstructions and as clean as possible. Try to walk around your car once a month to check that all of your lights still work. You should also change your wiper blades every six months, earlier if they begin streaking. If you are having trouble seeing the road at night, there is a possibility that your headlights are out of alignment. Luckily, this is generally a cheap and easy fix.

A fluid leak can cause the steering wheel or brakes to stop working or even cause the entire engine to suddenly lock up or overheat. Check the following fluids to keep a vehicle running smoothly and prevent an unexpected mechanical failure while on the road:

Engine Oil – Check once a month – Contrary to popular belief, most modern vehicles don’t require an oil change every 3,000 miles. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended frequency. Because oil lubricates all of the moving parts of the engine, if not changed at the recommended interval, the engine could seize and cause catastrophic damage.

Brake Fluid – Check during oil change – Typically needs to be changed every two years. If there is a sudden drop in brake fluid levels from a leak, the brakes will no longer work. If unchanged for a long period of time, the entire braking system could be damaged from rust, overheating or corrosion.

Power Steering Fluid – Check once a month – Check the owner’s manual, but most models do not require power steering fluid be replaced, but a leak can cause the steering wheel to stop responding.

Coolant – Check twice a year – Generally needs to be changed every two to three years. Coolant keeps a car from overheating during the warmer months and freezing during the colder months. Never check coolant levels when the engine is hot.

Transmission Fluid – Check once a month – Transmission fluid should be changed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Transmission fluid will only be low if there is a leak and should be taken to a mechanic immediately if low in order to prevent damage to the transmission.

In addition to preventing potential accidents, routine maintenance can also save thousands in expensive repairs. Safe travels!


“I canceled my insurance policy and never missed a payment – why is the company still sending me a bill?”

This is a common question, and one in which there is no fault in asking. The answer is more than likely what is referred to as short rate cancellation.

Short rate cancellation is a financial penalty incurred when the insured cancels an insurance contract prior to the expiration date of the contract. This allows the insurer to keep a percentage of unearned premium to cover costs, as outlined in the language of Part F of the NC auto policy.

The key word to remember there is contract – that’s what an insurance policy is. When you break a contract early in any walk of life, there is usually a penalty. A simple comparison to make is when you are signed up with a cell phone company and try to switch over to a new company. There is usually a fee that must be paid to the current provider to get out of that plan.

There is no specified penalty for this method of cancellation – it all depends on how far along into the policy term you are when you request the cancellation. When using the short rate method, it basically means that more of the premium becomes owed at the beginning of the policy term and is not divided out evenly among the days you had coverage. A rough approximation of the penalty is usually akin to one month’s premium early on in the term, though this decreases the further along you get in the term.

If you are ever thinking about cancelling a policy early and are curious to know what your short rate penalty will be, you can get an estimate by using this calculator:

That calculator is just an informational tool, however. The official penalty amount is ultimately calculated by the insurance company (not the agent!). On the flip side, they also calculate any refund you may be due if you happened to have paid ahead or in full.

Certain companies, like National General, have exceptions to the short rate method when cancelling early. For example, if the reason for cancelling is that you are moving out of state, being deployed by the military, or your vehicle is deemed a total loss due to an accident, the policy will cancel on a more traditional method known as pro rata. This means that the refund and/or premium due is calculated on a proportional basis – any premium you may have paid in advance will be fully refunded based on the days you had coverage.

It’s also worth pointing out that if an insurance company cancels your policy for any reason – even for unpaid bills – it will be on a pro rata basis. There is no penalty in that case, other than the fact that you no longer have insurance. There are also no penalties for cancelling at the renewal date.

So what is the moral of the story? Make sure you shop around, and that you are happy with the insurance policy before signing the contract. It’s not like a pair of pants that don’t fit – you can’t just exchange it for a new pair. We are always here to help at Brown-Phillips, so don’t hesitate to ask.


Click the thumbnail for a larger view of some facts from our friends at Safeco

“Why have my insurance bills gone up?”

It’s one of the most common questions we get asked when clients receive their renewal offers and see that their premiums have risen despite not having made any changes to their coverage. This can be due to any number of reasons – the easiest of which to comprehend are claims for accidents, or speeding tickets that may have been acquired during the previous year.

However, a common culprit for premium increases that most people don’t know about is something called a “recoupment charge,” which may appear on your policy labeled as “NCRF Clean Risk Allocation.” It can sound complicated but we’ll explain it to you as best we can.

As you probably know, North Carolina requires every driver to carry liability insurance, no matter how high of a risk they may be to insure. Because everyone needs coverage by law, insurance companies are not permitted to turn away high risk drivers who are seeking the required coverage. To prevent any one company from taking on too much risk, in 1973 the North Carolina Reinsurance Facility (NCRF) was created to ensure that all eligible drivers are able to purchase a policy.

The goal of the NCRF is to distribute losses proportionally across all member companies to offset the high-risk policies that some companies may take on. Insurance companies may pass, or cede, certain high risk policies to the NCRF to avoid the potential losses. The amount of state drivers covered by the NCRF can hover around 25 percent, and when many of those drivers prove to be the risks they were thought to be, the NCRF loses money. Because the NCRF typically operates at a deficit each year, the “recoupment charge” was created by the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) to help balance this out. This charge is added to all North Carolina auto policies with all companies. It increased from 4 percent to 9 percent in October 2016, and was again increased to 11 percent on April 1, 2017.

How is this rate calculated? Again, there a number of factors. One of the main reasons is inflation. The cost to repair vehicles damaged in accidents has increased dramatically, while medical costs have risen for accident injury victims. The population continues to grow in North Carolina, and with more people comes more accidents and claims.

Here are some facts from the NCRB:

-In 2015, the most recent year available, fatalities increased 8.1 percent from 2014, injuries increased 11.8 percent and reported crashes were up 11.1 percent.

-Mileage driven in 2015 was up 13 percent from the average of the preceding five years.

-Inflation in 2016 has increased vehicle repair costs by 2.4 percent and total medical care costs by 3.8 percent.

-The NCDMV estimates that there were 7 percent more crashes in 2015 due to distracted driving and 13.2 percent more alcohol related crashes.

All of these factors are considered when there is a rate increase, and clients will start to see those rate increases reflected in the premiums as renewal dates come around.

Here at Brown-Phillips, we’ll certainly do anything we can to help you offset these increases by finding other ways to reduce your premium. Are you interested in reducing your coverage or raising your deductible? Are you able to pay your premium in full as opposed to installments? Would you like to bundle the policy with a homeowner’s or renter’s policy? Sometimes these things can enact discounts that could help counteract the rising costs.

On the bright side, it’s also key to note that in spite of these changes, North Carolina drivers still enjoy the fourth-lowest auto insurance rates in the entire country. Thanks again for the chance to review and service your insurance needs.


Most people don’t think about license plates on a daily basis, but here at Brown-Phillips, we do! Unless you’re stuck in traffic behind someone with a clever saying or a special design, you probably pay no mind to those required rectangles of tin. When it comes to insurance, however, those little buggers can cause quite the headache if you’re not familiar with the rules.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about license plates and what the DMV requires when you possess them. This link ( provides all of the necessary information in detail so be sure to visit that, but here are a few guidelines as it relates to insurance.

If you bought a new car or have just moved to North Carolina, you won’t be able to get plates until you provide proof of liability insurance (from a company licensed to do business in NC) for the vehicle in question with the following minimum requirements:
-$30,000 – bodily injury, one person
-$60,000 – bodily injury, two or more people
-$25,000 – property damage
-Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, uninsured motorist property damage coverage, and in some cases, underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage.
-If your vehicle is financed, your lien holder will likely require additional coverage like collision and comprehensive.

Once you’ve got an insurance policy with those requirements, you’ll need to provide proof via one of these four documents:
-Form DL-123 from your insurance agent
-Vehicle insurance policy reflecting your name and the issue and expiration dates
-An insurance binder
-An insurance card with your name, the policy number and the issue and expiration dates

If you’ve traded in a vehicle, you don’t necessarily have to get new plates for the replacement vehicle – you can transfer the plates from the old one. First, contact your insurance agent to notify them of the change so they can endorse the policy (and provide an updated document of proof). Then you can submit the form and pay the transfer fee of $20 at your local DMV office.

If you’ve sold the car (and are not replacing it), if it was totaled and salvaged due to a claim, or if you are moving out of North Carolina, you must surrender the plates. This is not to be taken lightly. In all three of those scenarios, you will be cancelling your insurance coverage as it exists in North Carolina, but it is important not to do that until you are ready to return your plates to the DMV. North Carolina law requires you to have liability coverage in effect on your vehicle DURING THE ENTIRE TIME IT IS REGISTERED AND THE LICENSE PLATE IS IN YOUR POSSESSION. Even if you are keeping your vehicle but putting it into storage or do not plan to use it for an extended period of time, you must surrender the plate before cancelling your liability insurance coverage.

Cancelling your liability insurance before returning the plate incurs a civil penalty as outlined below. There is some leeway here if you’ve moved out of state – you obviously need the plate to drive to your new home – but once you’ve registered your vehicle in your new state, you must mail in your plate ASAP to: NC Division of Motor Vehicles, 3148 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-3148.

Lapse of Insurance Coverage
If you change insurance carriers or you have a lapse of coverage (including a cancellation for non-payment of premium), your insurance company is required by law to notify the DMV. At that time, the DMV is required to send you a Form FS 5-7 Notice, to which you must respond within 10 days. If you have not had a lapse of coverage (i.e. you have a new policy with another company that started the same day your other one cancelled), simply enter your new information and return the form within 10 days.

If there has been a lapse in coverage or you don’t respond in time, your license plate may be revoked for 30 days and you will have to complete the following steps to re-license:
-Provide proof of insurance coverage Form FS-1 (via your agent)
-Pay a civil penalty fee of 50.00, 100.00 or 150.00 (depending on how many prior lapses you’ve had)
-Pay a 50.00 service fee
-Pay appropriate license plate fee.

All of that is a major hassle for you, and it can be avoided by simply a.) paying your premium bills on time; and b.) surrendering your plates before you cancel your insurance coverage if you get rid of a vehicle or move. You may have been rid of your actual vehicle for months, but as long as you have the DMV’s license plates, that insurance policy needs to be active or they will hunt you down for those fees.

If you’ve read this far, we’d like to thank you by ending things on a light note! Here’s a gallery highlighting some of the funniest and/or most inappropriate license plate requests that have been rejected by the NCDMV: