With a struggling economy, many people are forced to pick and choose what bills they pay. Experts say one of the first places people are applying the brakes is on their car insurance payments. So far this year, the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office has issued more than 200 citations for uninsured driving; a pace that could exceed last year's total. New Hanover County has the highest car insurance rates in the state. “That's because there are more accidents that happen in this county, so the state sees it as a higher risk - so they charge us more rates here in this county,” explained AAA insurance agent Ed Cologgi. Surrounding counties are not much cheaper, so with expensive rates and an economy that's left many people unemployed, a lot of drivers are choosing not to pay for car insurance. But driving without insurance leaves both you and your car vulnerable if you're involved in an accident. Uninsured driving is a theme that the insurance companies seem to be well aware of. But even with ads urging uninsured drivers to stay off the roads, experts say the number of drivers without insurance will continue to increase. “Currently, we're at a 14.8% uninsured motorist rate here in North Carolina. It is predicted to rise to about 18 percent by 2010,” said Cologgi. It's important to know your insurance companies policy on late payments. Some companies will cut your coverage if you are even a day late, while others will give you a grace period before canceling the insurance. If you have to reapply for a policy, because of late payments, you could face late fees from both the state and the insurance company.
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