South Carolina Auto Insurance

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Whether you’re heading to Myrtle Beach for a relaxing day on the beach, Hilton Head Island to hit the golf course, or Charleston to scope out the colorful architecture, drivers in the Palmetto State must have an active and adequate car insurance policy before getting behind the wheel for their adventures. 

Let’s take a look at what coverages you must have on your auto insurance policy in South Carolina, how to get a policy from one of the state’s best insurers, and how you can stretch your dollar to get excellent coverage at a lower-than-average rate.

South Carolina Insurance Explained

Whether you’re a new resident of the Palmetto State, binding an auto insurance policy for the first time, or just curious about South Carolina car insurance requirements, doing your research is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best policy for your needs. To find a policy that best matches your budget and comfort level for coverage, you’ll first have to narrow down what you value the most in a policy.

Policies differ from driver to driver, insurer to insurer, and state to state, but some things remain the same. Many drivers build their auto insurance policies around two key factors: cost and coverage. 

Those who value coverage over cost will likely choose a full coverage policy from an insurer that offers a wide range of optional coverages. Those who value cost over coverage will likely choose a minimum coverage policy from an insurer that offers lower-than-average base rates and plenty of opportunities for stackable discounts. Those who value cost and coverage equally may choose a full coverage policy from an insurer that offers low base rates and plenty of discounts.

There’s a vast range of policies available in the Palmetto State; the hardest part is knowing where and how to look. Let’s check out how you can get a policy with one of the state’s top insurers for a low rate without sacrificing coverage for cost.

What Are the Best Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina?

The best insurance companies in South Carolina are Geico, State Farm, and Travelers, as they offer excellent coverage options at lower-than-average base rates. These insurers offer competitively low rates for full coverage policies, with the average base rate falling about 20% below the state average.

Each of these insurers offers a range of optional coverage options for policyholders to add to a full coverage policy, like medical payments coverage (MedPay), underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage. Paired with their many discounts, these insurers keep their rates low and their policyholders satisfied.

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What’s the Best South Carolina Auto Insurance?

The best auto insurance is subjective to the policyholder’s unique needs but often comes from an insurance company in South Carolina that offers competitively low base rates, many stackable discounts, and excellent customer service. 

Objectively, a full coverage policy is the best to carry because it offers an expansive range of coverage for different accident scenarios. However, the best policy for one driver may not be the best choice for every driver. It’s essential to tailor your policy to your needs, whether you’re on a tight budget or feel most comfortable with high limits of a range of coverages. Whatever you choose, being confident in your coverage limits, premiums, and deductibles will make a policy the best choice for you.

What Is the Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the minimum car insurance drivers must carry is $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, $25,000 in property damage liability per accident (25/50/25 liability), and the same 25/50/25 limit for uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Those who lease or finance their vehicles may be legally required to carry a full coverage policy with collision and comprehensive coverages as a stipulation of their legally binding contract.

Drivers in the Palmetto State have the option to legally drive uninsured. For a fee of $600, drivers can legally reject insurance coverage and drive uninsured. However, failing to carry adequate insurance coverage without paying the uninsured motorist fee is considered driving without insurance, which is illegal in the state

Is South Carolina Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required?

Drivers must carry at least 25/50/25 in uninsured motorist coverage in South Carolina. While the Palmetto state doesn’t have a higher-than-average number of uninsured drivers, it still requires all drivers to have this coverage on their auto insurance policies. Any policy that doesn’t meet the minimum requirement of UM coverage in the Palmetto State is considered insufficient, and the driver is considered uninsured.

UM coverage protects law-abiding drivers from uninsured drivers. While South Carolina is a tort state, meaning the at-fault driver in an accident must cover the victim’s expenses with their liability coverage, some drivers fail to carry a sufficient liability limit. Suppose a driver with a minimum coverage policy is in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist. In that case, the policyholder can use their UM coverage to cover their medical expenses or vehicle repairs. UM coverage essentially acts as liability coverage, but instead of covering the victim in an accident caused by the policyholder, it covers the policyholder if they’re the victim of an accident with an uninsured driver.

Is Driving Without Insurance in South Carolina Illegal?

Driving uninsured in the Palmetto state is illegal. In South Carolina, the penalty for driving without insurance can be a hefty fine, license and registration suspension, jail time, or any combination of the three.

Any driver that gets behind the wheel without an active insurance policy is considered uninsured. Even if your policy has lapsed for 12 hours, you’re considered uninsured and may be subject to the consequences of breaking this law. Those with auto insurance policies that fail to meet the legal minimum are also considered uninsured and may be penalized for breaking the law.

In the Palmetto State, drivers can legally opt out of carrying auto insurance. Drivers who choose to drive uninsured can do so legally for an annual fee of $600. However, those who get behind the wheel without an active policy and who haven’t legally opted out of the insurance system are breaking the law and may be penalized.

Penalties for driving uninsured typically vary based on the severity and frequency of the offense. This means that a driver whose insurance policy has lapsed for three days and who’s pulled over for turning right on a red light may be punished less severely than a driver who has never had an insurance policy and caused a fatal accident. 

What’s an SR-22 in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, SR-22 insurance isn’t actually a specific policy or type of coverage but rather a document an insurer will file on behalf of a high-risk driver. Typically, a driver whose license or registration is suspended due to driving uninsured or intoxicated will require an SR-22 upon reinstating their license or registration. 

The form itself isn’t very costly to file, typically about $25 in processing fees, but the existence of it on one’s records may raise one’s premiums. Drivers with an SR-22 on file are considered high-risk by insurers because they’re at a higher risk of filing a claim. High-risk drivers, especially those with a history of at-fault accidents or driving uninsured, may pay double or triple the average premium in the state.

Is South Carolina a No-Fault State for Car Insurance?

No, South Carolina isn’t a no-fault state for car insurance. Instead, the Palmetto State is a tort state, meaning at least one driver must assume fault in every accident. In many tort states, including South Carolina, drivers must carry liability coverage to help protect the victim in an accident caused by the policyholder. 

While the Palmetto State isn’t a no-fault state, drivers may still carry no-fault coverages on their auto insurance policies. A popular type of no-fault coverage drivers may carry is a first-party medical benefit, like MedPay or personal injury protection (PIP). However, PIP isn’t available in South Carolina. MedPay helps the policyholder cover their medical bills, even if they’re at fault in an accident. 

South Carolina Accident Laws Explained

According to South Carolina car accident laws, at least one driver must be deemed at fault in every accident. The Palmetto State uses a system called comparative negligence when assigning blame in a car accident. With comparative negligence, at least one driver must be half at fault, but the other driver or drivers may also take some of the blame.

For example, say two drivers get into an accident because one turned right on a red light and the other sped 20mph over the speed limit through a yellow. Since both drivers committed a traffic violation, both contributed to the accident. However, going 20mph over the speed limit is a more serious crime than turning right at a red light, so that driver may take 70% of the fault while the other driver takes 30% of the fault.

If the driver who’s only 30% at fault requires medical attention or repairs to their vehicle, they may only be eligible for 70% of the at-fault policyholder’s liability coverage. 

In comparative negligence states like South Carolina, it’s especially important for drivers to be confident in their auto insurance policies. Because some accidents can have multiple at-fault parties, carrying enough coverage is always important to keep you and your savings safe. 

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What’s the Average Auto Insurance in South Carolina?

The average car insurance in South Carolina is a full coverage policy from an insurer offering lower-than-average base rates with several optional coverages and plenty of discounts stacked to reduce premiums. While policies differ from driver to driver, a full coverage policy is objectively the best choice because of its robust coverage.

Many drivers opt for a full coverage policy because of its protection in even the worst-case accident scenarios. A full coverage policy with a liability limit higher than 25/50/25, UM limit higher than 25/50/25, underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), MedPay, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage will help protect policyholders, their passengers, and other drivers on the road. 

While the premiums on a full coverage policy may get expensive, depending on one’s coverage limits, deductible, and a few other factors, it’s far easier to budget for a premium than for a catastrophic car accident. While forgoing coverage in the name of savings may be enticing, those savings may fly out the window in the event of a car accident.

What’s the Average Cost of Auto Insurance in South Carolina?

The average car insurance cost in South Carolina for a full coverage premium is about $1,640 annually, just below the national average of $1,670 annually. However, it’s essential to remember that this average is just an estimate, as premiums differ based on the driver, insurer, ad policy.

Premiums are highly subjective to each driver, as insurers use a range of unique characteristics to determine one’s premiums. For example, an insurer may use your driving record, insurance history, age, gender, or ZIP code, among other factors, to determine your premiums. All these characteristics allow insurers to assess a driver’s risk of filing a claim. 

If a driver is at high risk of filing a claim, they may have higher-than-average premiums. While insurance history and driving record certainly play a significant role in premium determination, factors like gender and age can also indicate one’s risk level.

For example, teenage boys are statistically most likely to get into car accidents out of any group of drivers. Thus, boys often pay more in premiums than girls of the same age. However, it’s crucial to remember that premiums ebb and flow, and while they may be expensive for a while, as long as you practice safe habits behind the wheel, they’ll even out to the average rate eventually.

Why Is Car Insurance So Expensive in South Carolina?

The cheapest car insurance in South Carolina is a minimum coverage policy from State Farm, which typically costs about $665 annually. The national average rate for a minimum coverage policy is about $835, meaning car insurance in the Palmetto State actually isn’t very expensive, as it’s cheaper than average. However, while some drivers may be eligible for the average rate, others may pay higher or lower premiums.

The average premium in the Palmetto State is a ballpark in which most premium rates fall. Drivers may not be eligible for the cheapest rates in the state if they have a poor driving record, insurance history, or any characteristics that put them at a higher-than-average risk of filing a claim.

While the premiums for a minimum coverage policy are significantly cheaper than those for a full coverage one, a minimum coverage policy offers significantly less coverage. Getting a policy that best aligns with your values is always important, but sacrificing coverage for cost may not always be the wisest choice.

There are ways you can lower your premiums other than reducing your coverage to the minimum legal limit. Let’s check out how you can get the cheapest policy in the state while still carrying a range of coverage that’ll keep you protected in many accident scenarios.

How To Find Cheap Car Insurance for South Carolina

One of the best ways to find affordable South Carolina car insurance is to utilize discounts. Many insurers in the state offer discounts ranging from criteria-based to enrollment-based. Criteria-based discounts require minimal effort from the policyholder, as drivers qualify if they meet certain standards. Enrollment-based discounts require policyholders to take an active role in their savings by enrolling in a class or participating in a program. 

Many insurers offer criteria-based discounts like a good student discount for young drivers who earn good grades, a bundling discount for those who purchase multiple insurance products from the same insurer, or a muti-car discount for those who insure more than one vehicle on the same policy. Some insurers even offer discounts for those who drive hybrid or electric vehicles, those with safety devices on their vehicle, or for veterans. 

Enrollment-based discounts differ based on the insurer but typically yield higher savings than criteria-based ones. Many insurers offer a usage-based discount for which policyholders consent to use a telematics device to track and send their driving data to their insurer to receive a discount based on their safe habits behind the wheel. Insurers also may offer a pay-per-mile program in which drivers can enroll to save on their premiums if they drive fewer than the national average of 12,000 miles annually.

Who Has the Cheapest Car Insurance in South Carolina?

The insurers with the best insurance rates in South Carolina are State Farm, Geico, and our partner, Travelers. Each insurer boasts base rates for full coverage premiums at nearly 20% less than the state average of $1,640 annually. Once you narrow your search down to a few insurers that offer base rates in your price range, you can select the best insurer for your budget by investigating which insurer offers the most discounts you’re eligible for. 

How To Get an Auto Insurance Quote in South Carolina

If you’re new to the Palmetto State, a young driver getting your first auto insurance policy, or just curious about the policies and rates for which you’re eligible, the best way to see all your options in one place is to get and compare quotes online. By getting and comparing quotes from several insurers, you can tailor your policy to suit your needs and budget.

Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place for quotes. Here at Covered, we have a free quoting tool you can use to get quotes from several of the state’s top insurers in minutes. If you’d prefer to speak with a professional about your quote, contact one of our licensed agents at 833-255-4117 or [email protected].

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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