Homeowners Insurance in South Carolina
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UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021
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South Carolina has a lot of coastal land bordering the Atlantic Ocean, a body of water notorious for hurricane activity. To make matters worse, hurricane activity in the Atlantic has been picking up in recent years. Between damage from past storms and the predictions of future storms to come, it can be difficult to find a good price for your homeowners insurance in South Carolina.
But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We’ve compiled this handy home insurance shopping guide to help consumers like you make good decisions about your policy. Additionally, competition among insurance companies in the Palmetto State is hotter than ever, which means they are competing for your business – and that puts you in a position of power.
|Types of Coverage||Coverage Amount|
|Replacement Cost (Dwelling)||$200,000|
|Replacement Cost (Contents)||$100,000|
The chart above includes estimated coverage amounts for a typical $200,000 home, which reflects the average cost for a home in today’s housing market for South Carolina. If you purchase a standard special form HO-3 policy, which is the most popular type of home insurance policy in the country, you’ll get comprehensive coverage for more than just your home. Your personal property will also be protected, and you’ll receive financial coverage for liability and medical payments, too.
Did you know that you can request several different quotes from insurance providers in your area before settling on a policy? It’s one of the easiest ways to make sure you get your money’s worth on your annual premium. Likewise, you can look for other helpful discounts – like bundling your homeowners and car insurance with the same company – in order to get the best deal.
Laws and Requirements
What do you know about homeowners insurance laws in South Carolina? You may be under the impression that it is legally mandated, the same way auto insurance is. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s mostly voluntary, unless you currently have a mortgage on your home. Then your lender may require it for financial reasons – not legal ones. Regardless, most homeowners elect to purchase it anyway, even if they own their property outright. It’s just a good idea to protect yourself from expensive damage to your property.
Taking a Home Inventory
Taking a thorough inventory of your home is an important step in the home insurance buying process. After all, how will you know how much coverage to purchase if you don’t know how much your personal property is worth? It might be possible for you to make a wild guess, but that’s not the best idea if you want to get the most affordable premium possible. Whether you undervalue or overvalue your property, doing so could cost you in the long run – either by paying more for too much coverage, or paying more for repairs if you don’t buy enough.
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Choosing What (and How Much) Coverage
The most obvious perils that South Carolina residents have to worry about are hurricane-related. But those aren’t the only disasters that can befall your home and/or property:
- Earthquakes – They don’t happen often, and they are usually below a magnitude of 3.0; however, earthquakes are a very real peril in the Palmetto State. Despite this, most homeowners insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by earthquakes. If you live in a quake-prone area, be sure to talk to your agent about riders or endorsements that might protect you.
- Hurricanes – Insurance companies have many different categories for specific damaged caused by hurricanes, and even more exceptions to help them avoid paying out on hurricane-related claims. Wind damage, water damage, and flood damage are all considered separate and unique elements that may or may not be covered, depending on your policy. Be sure you go over the specifics of how hurricane damage is covered on your policy, and ask about any riders or endorsements that may be required for optimal protection.
- Wind – The vast majority of HO-3 policies protect both your dwelling and your personal property from damages due to windstorms or hail. Homeowners in coastal cities, however, should clarify this coverage with their insurer to make sure it’s available as part of a standard policy. If not, you may need to ask for a special endorsement or purchase additional insurance coverage.
- Flood Damage – Finding a private insurance company willing to offer protection against flood damage is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why the federal government, through FEMA, maintains the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It can help homeowners protect their property in the event of severe water damage not caused by any of the named perils on your insurance policy.
- Covering Your Property – As we discussed in the home inventory section, covering the contents of your dwelling is extremely important. You may not be able to replace the sentimental keepsakes with this coverage, but you can protect yourself from the expense of replacing things like kitchen appliances, paintings, jewelry, and your electronics.
- Liability Coverage – What happens if there’s an accident on your property, and you are deemed at fault? Assuming you can’t settle things out of court, you may be in for an expensive ride. That’s why there’s liability coverage on your home insurance policy.
- Umbrella Coverage – Between the likelihood of hurricane damage and the expense of beachfront coastal property, you may need higher coverage limits than what your insurance company is willing to sell you. If this is the case, ask your agent about umbrella coverage. It can extend your coverage limits – for a price, of course – to where you need them to be.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
These two terms may seem confusing, but they’re actually pretty easy to understand. Replacement cost claims pay out 100% of however much it will cost to repair/replace damaged property, usually that which applies to your outer structure. Actual cash value claims pay out how much your property is worth the moment you file the claim; and if it’s an older item, then its depreciation will be subtracted from the total payout. Actual cash value coverage costs less in premiums than replacement cost coverage, but at the same time, you’ll be paying more to fix or replace damaged property.
How Your Credit Score May Influence Your Rate
Sometimes, a homeowners insurance company will determine your credit by looking at your insurance score. This is a limited snapshot of your credit history that examines your last seven years or so of credit, and only certain types of credit. Another benefit of an insurance score is that it doesn’t leave any blemishes on your credit history the way a full credit report does. Before you ask for a quote, make sure you ask your potential insurers how they evaluate credit. It could make a $300-$600 difference per year on your annual premium.
For more information, feel free to click any of the links you see in this article. They all lead to more detailed information about homeowner’s insurance, specifics on purchasing a policy, and how to find the best deal. You should also contact local resources in your state, such as:
Or contact them directly through the following resources:
South Carolina Department of Insurance
Post Office Box 100105
Columbia, SC 29202
[email protected] │ Call: 803-737-6180