The Ultimate South Carolina Car Insurance Guide (Costs + Coverage)
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Tim Bain is a licensed insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with the best insurance coverage to meet their needs. His insurance expertise has been featured in several publications, including Investopedia and eFinancial. He also does digital marking and analysis for KPS/3, a communications and marking firm located in Nevada.
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UPDATED: Nov 27, 2023
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|South Carolina Statistics Summary||Details|
|Road Miles in South Carolina||Vehicle Miles: 49,931 millions
Miles of Roadway: 76,301
|Vehicles||Registered Vehicles: 3,902,945
Motor Vehicle Thefts: 12,902
|Most Popular Vehicle in South Carolina||Ford F150|
|Total Driving Related Deaths||Speeding Fatalities: 416
DUI Fatalities: 313
|Full Coverage Average Premiums||Liability: $497.50
Full Coverage: $910.51
|Cheapest Provider||State Farm|
Whether you are driving down the Grand Strand or around the beautiful pastel-colored houses in Charleston, you need the best auto insurance coverage for complete peace of mind.
The best insurance policy should have not only an optimum coverage but also a reputed insurer.
With so many choices, it may feel overwhelming to choose the best insurance product.
Browsing for South Carolina automobile insurance? Sometimes looking for a provider can be difficult. But with AutoInsuranceEZ.com, it’s as uncomplicated as typing in your zip code. We can supply you with the top 10 insurance providers in your location, whether you live in a big city like Columbia, Charleston, or North Charleston, or a lesser populated area such as Rock Hill or Mount Pleasant.
We have developed this guide to help you understand how to choose a policy and an insurer.
You can start evaluating insurance quotes while going through the guide. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool to get started.
South Carolina Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
How to choose the best auto insurance coverage?
You should understand the basics of auto insurance and opt for coverage that best meets your requirements.
Our guide will help you understand various types of coverages, including the required coverages, rates by zip code or demographics, and much more.
South Carolina’s Car Culture
The Palmetto State has a rich history building and racing cars.
The state is home to three major race tracks including the legendary Darlington Raceway that hosts NASCAR races.
Many car manufacturers are either in South Carolina or setting up their manufacturing base in the state. Notably, BMW has a strong presence in the state while Volvo and Daimler are ramping up their facilities.
Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage Required in South Carolina
Before you start understanding what is the best coverage for your needs, you need to know the required minimum auto insurance in the state.
After all, any ‘best’ coverage must include the state-mandated minimum coverage!
To drive in the state, it is mandatory in South Carolina to purchase liability and uninsured motorist coverage.
Let us look at the minimum auto insurance coverages required in South Carolina:
Bodily Injury: You are required to purchase a minimum of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident
Property Damage: You are required to purchase a minimum of $25,000 as liability protection against property damage in a crash
In addition to liability coverage, you are also required to carry uninsured motorist coverage equal to the minimum liability threshold (25/50/25).
The insurers in South Carolina are required by law to offer you underinsured motorist coverage, but you are not obligated to purchase it.
South Carolina is among a handful of states that require you to purchase uninsured motorist coverage.
Now, let us understand how each of the coverages will help you in case of an accident:
Liability Coverage: This policy instrument is designed to protect you against claims by others in case of an accident for which you are at fault.
E.g., if you hit a legally parked car, you might be responsible for property damage. Your insurer may have to compensate the third party against any loss up to your policy limits.
Remember: You may have to compensate the third party out of pocket if the damage is above your coverage limits.
Therefore it is critical for you to understand the financial implications and purchase liability coverage accordingly.
Let us look at the video by Allstate to understand liability coverage better:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage is designed to protect you if you are injured or an uninsured driver damages your property.
Please review the video from Allstate insurance to better understand why you require uninsured motorist coverage:
With so many uninsured drivers in the state, it is vital that you purchase adequate uninsured motorist coverage!
Required Forms of Financial Responsibility in South Carolina
You are expected to carry the mandatory auto insurance coverage if you have a registered vehicle in South Carolina.
In place of auto insurance, you can also opt for self-insurance by depositing cash or posting a bond with the state.
In South Carolina, you can self-insure by depositing $35,000 in bond or cash with the state. You can also post real estate bonds with a combined value of at least $150,000.
However, should you deposit such a considerable sum of money to avoid car insurance premium! You can do much more than keep the money in a bond or deposit.
Whatever may be the case, do not make the mistake of driving without insurance.
Premiums as a percentage of income in South Carolina
Rather than avoiding insurance premium, why not look for a discounted rate.
Well, one way is to know what others around you are paying for their car insurance.
The knowledge about the average car insurance premium in your state will also help you analyze the quotes you receive from car insurers.
In South Carolina, the average disposable income is $33,295, while the average full coverage premium is $936.
The comparatively lower disposable income coupled with at par premium rate than national average means that an average South Carolinian spends a higher percentage of income on car insurance than U.S. average.
|Insurance as % of income||2014||2013||2012|
On average, North Carolinians in comparison pay a lot less for car insurance due to comparatively cheaper insurance in the state.
What is ‘disposable income‘?
The residual income after taxes and social security contributions are deducted from your total income.
However, these are all average figures that may not necessarily be applicable in your case.
You can start by comparing your current premium rate against your income using our FREE calculator.
Core Car Insurance Coverage in South Carolina
According to the National Association Of Insurance Commissioners, the average premium rate for full coverage car insurance in South Carolina is approximately $45 cheaper than the national average.
The full coverage auto insurance includes liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.
Liability and collision coverages are cheaper than the national average, while comprehensive coverage costs slightly more in South Carolina than the national average.
But, why are the collision and comprehensive coverages essential, and why should you add to your policy?
Liability insurance is expected to protect you from financial repercussions if you injure a third party or cause property damage.
Collision and comprehensive coverages are expected to provide coverage to the first part, a.k.a ‘you.’ Let us see how each of these are useful for you:
Collision Coverage: When you hit a car in an accident in which you were at fault, your insurer will reimburse the third party for the damages. However, what about your car?
If your car was also damaged and you don’t have collision coverage, you have to bear the cost of repair out of pocket. Collision coverage provides the financial protection that pays for the repair of your car in case of an accident.
If your car is totaled in the accident, collision coverage will pay you the depreciated value of your vehicle minus the policy deductible.
Remember: If you are leasing a car, you might be required by the lender to purchase collision coverage.
Watch this video for a brief overview of collision coverage by Allstate:
Why should you buy collision coverage: If you have leased the car or taken a loan, then you might be required by the lender to purchase collision coverage. However, if your vehicle is paid off, you have to decide
Comprehensive Coverage: But what about theft? How will you safeguard your car purchase against theft?
Comprehensive coverage is designed to protect you against damage or loss to a vehicle for reasons not related to driving.
Comprehensive coverage provides coverage against vehicle theft, fire, or damage due to a falling tree.
Let’s take a look at the brief video on comprehensive insurance:
Just like collision coverage, you are required to purchase comprehensive coverage if you are leasing a vehicle.
Why should you buy comprehensive coverage: If your car is not leased or loaned, you can decide whether to purchase comprehensive coverage.
If you have a new car or high-value car, then you should purchase comprehensive insurance. However, if your car is old, then you must evaluate if it makes sense to pay the premium and the deductible against the current value of your car.
Tip: Windshield protection is usually provided by insurers as part of comprehensive coverage.
Additional Liability Coverage in South Carolina
Apart from the minimum mandated bodily injury and property damage, you can also purchase additional liability insurance.
With around ten percent of drivers in South Carolina driving without insurance, uninsured motorist coverage makes a lot of sense.
If you look at the loss ratio for uninsured coverage, insurers in South Carolina have a better payout ratio compared to the national average.
While liability for bodily injury protects the third party in an accident, what coverage is expected to help you pay for injuries sustained to you and your passengers?
The answer is Medical Pay or MedPay. In case of an accident that resulted in bodily injury to you and your passenger, your insurer will provide coverage up to your policy limit.
MedPay also has a slightly higher loss ratio compared to the national average, which indicates that insurers in South Carolina are better at processing MedPay claims.
Now, wait – but what is loss ratio?
Loss Ratio is an excellent metric to analyze if you want to understand whether an insurer will settle your claim.
By definition, the loss ratio is the proportion of payouts compared to premiums earned.
So if an insurer has a much higher loss ratio than its peer set, than the rate of claim settlement is higher than its rate of earning premiums.
Conversely, if the loss ratio is less than its peer set, than the insurer might not be settling claims as well, it should.
Watch this video to get a brief overview of loss ratio:
Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders
Apart from the coverages mentioned above, you can also consider the following add-ons and riders to further increase your policy protection as per your specific requirements.
- Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
- Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
- Rental Reimbursement
- Emergency Roadside Assistance
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
- Non-Owner Car Insurance
- Modified Car Insurance Coverage
- Classic Car Insurance
- Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance
Insurance Premium Rates by Gender: Male vs. Female Rates
To figure out how to save on premium rates, we need to understand what factors impact the premium rate?
First, we analyze if gender impacts your premium rates.
|Company||Married 35-year old female||Married 35-year old male||Married 60-year old female||Married 60-year old male||Single 17-year old female||Single 17-year old male||Single 25-year old female||Single 25-year old male|
|Bristol West Select||$3,198.86||$3,212.56||$3,054.08||$3,319.19||$8,424.07||$9,324.42||$3,486.65||$3,514.99|
|Geico Govt Employees||$2,292.59||$2,292.59||$2,092.47||$2,092.47||$5,552.76||$5,685.15||$2,674.55||$2,741.48|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||$2,469.20||$2,501.59||$2,223.66||$2,308.30||$5,970.02||$7,692.64||$2,792.80||$3,045.71|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$1,938.66||$1,938.66||$1,755.90||$1,755.90||$5,564.16||$6,994.35||$2,175.82||$2,447.27|
Compared to single females, single males pay a higher premium. For teens, the difference between the premium rates is higher. However, the difference varies among insurers.
This clearly shows the value of comparative buying in finding the most economical premium rate.
|Company||Demographic||Average Annual Rate|
|Progressive Northern||Single 17-year old male||$11,361.20|
|Progressive Northern||Single 17-year old female||$10,287.93|
|Bristol West Select||Single 17-year old male||$9,324.42|
|Allstate F&C||Single 17-year old male||$8,518.45|
|Bristol West Select||Single 17-year old female||$8,424.07|
|USAA||Single 17-year old male||$8,041.03|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Single 17-year old male||$7,692.64|
|USAA||Single 17-year old female||$7,341.34|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 17-year old male||$6,994.35|
|Allstate F&C||Single 17-year old female||$6,662.45|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Single 17-year old female||$5,970.02|
|Geico Govt Employees||Single 17-year old male||$5,685.15|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 17-year old female||$5,564.16|
|Geico Govt Employees||Single 17-year old female||$5,552.76|
|Bristol West Select||Single 25-year old male||$3,514.99|
|Bristol West Select||Single 25-year old female||$3,486.65|
|Bristol West Select||Married 60-year old male||$3,319.19|
|Bristol West Select||Married 35-year old male||$3,212.56|
|Bristol West Select||Married 35-year old female||$3,198.86|
|Allstate F&C||Single 25-year old male||$3,111.28|
|Bristol West Select||Married 60-year old female||$3,054.08|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Single 25-year old male||$3,045.71|
|Progressive Northern||Single 25-year old male||$2,969.28|
|Allstate F&C||Single 25-year old female||$2,858.85|
|Progressive Northern||Single 25-year old female||$2,848.88|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Single 25-year old female||$2,792.80|
|Geico Govt Employees||Single 25-year old male||$2,741.48|
|Geico Govt Employees||Single 25-year old female||$2,674.55|
|Allstate F&C||Married 35-year old female||$2,575.42|
|Allstate F&C||Married 35-year old male||$2,575.42|
|USAA||Single 25-year old male||$2,544.18|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Married 35-year old male||$2,501.59|
|Progressive Northern||Married 35-year old female||$2,477.19|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Married 35-year old female||$2,469.20|
|Allstate F&C||Married 60-year old female||$2,462.77|
|Allstate F&C||Married 60-year old male||$2,462.77|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 25-year old male||$2,447.27|
|USAA||Single 25-year old female||$2,414.03|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Married 60-year old male||$2,308.30|
|Geico Govt Employees||Married 35-year old female||$2,292.59|
|Geico Govt Employees||Married 35-year old male||$2,292.59|
|Progressive Northern||Married 35-year old male||$2,286.14|
|Progressive Northern||Married 60-year old male||$2,225.14|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||Married 60-year old female||$2,223.66|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 25-year old female||$2,175.82|
|Progressive Northern||Married 60-year old female||$2,128.88|
|Geico Govt Employees||Married 60-year old female||$2,092.47|
|Geico Govt Employees||Married 60-year old male||$2,092.47|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Married 35-year old female||$1,938.66|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Married 35-year old male||$1,938.66|
|USAA||Married 35-year old male||$1,842.82|
|USAA||Married 35-year old female||$1,836.27|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Married 60-year old female||$1,755.90|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Married 60-year old male||$1,755.90|
|USAA||Married 60-year old male||$1,690.25|
|USAA||Married 60-year old female||$1,688.20|
Cheapest Rates by ZIP Code in South Carolina
Search the tables below to find the average premium rate in your ZIP code.
|Cheapest ZIP Codes in South Carolina||City||Average by ZIP Codes||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|29696||WEST UNION||$3,217.19||Progressive||$3,969.16||Farmers||$3,667.62||Geico||$2,565.72||State Farm||$2,751.09|
|29664||MOUNTAIN REST||$3,249.79||Progressive||$4,144.41||Farmers||$3,766.09||Geico||$2,565.72||State Farm||$2,665.68|
|29332||CROSS HILL||$3,305.73||Progressive||$3,807.26||Allstate||$3,695.94||State Farm||$2,745.30||Geico||$2,761.75|
|29645||GRAY COURT||$3,306.89||Progressive||$3,824.81||Allstate||$3,694.75||Geico||$2,717.44||State Farm||$2,949.06|
Seneca has the cheapest ZIP code in South Carolina, costing over $1,400 less than the ZIP code in Miley.
|Most Expensive ZIP Codes in South Carolina||City||Average by ZIP Code||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|29916||EARLY BRANCH||$4,295.75||Farmers||$5,139.84||Progressive||$4,917.16||State Farm||$3,324.36||USAA||$3,939.94|
Cheapest Rates by City in South Carolina
Use the tables below to find the average premium rates in your city.
|Cheapest Cities in South Carolina||Average by City||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|West Union||$3,217.19||Progressive||$3,969.16||Farmers||$3,667.62||Geico||$2,565.72||State Farm||$2,751.09|
|Mountain Rest||$3,249.79||Progressive||$4,144.41||Farmers||$3,766.09||Geico||$2,565.72||State Farm||$2,665.68|
|Cross Hill||$3,305.73||Progressive||$3,807.26||Allstate||$3,695.94||State Farm||$2,745.30||Geico||$2,761.75|
|Gray Court||$3,306.89||Progressive||$3,824.81||Allstate||$3,694.75||Geico||$2,717.44||State Farm||$2,949.06|
|Fair Play||$3,323.71||Progressive||$4,266.56||Farmers||$3,859.49||Geico||$2,565.72||State Farm||$2,787.44|
|Long Creek||$3,333.92||Progressive||$4,274.73||Farmers||$3,941.61||Geico||$2,565.72||State Farm||$2,772.98|
|Mount Carmel||$3,352.98||Progressive||$3,839.66||Allstate||$3,735.83||State Farm||$2,776.13||Geico||$2,932.61|
Where you live has a huge impact on what you pay.
|Most Expensive Cities in South Carolina||Average by City||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|Early Branch||$4,295.75||Farmers||$5,139.84||Progressive||$4,917.16||State Farm||$3,324.36||USAA||$3,939.94|
Next, we will look at which companies are in South Carolina.
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Best Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina
How to choose the insurance company that best fits your requirements?
The obvious answer is that the cheapest rate is not necessarily the best insurance coverage.
You should consider factors such as the financial health of the insurer and customer reviews.
Financial Ratings of the Leading Insurance Companies in South Carolina
Rather than spend time analyzing each insurer’s financial statements, you can leverage the financial ratings provided by A.M. Credit Rating, which is one of the most reputed credit rating agency in the insurance industry.
|Companies||A.M. Credit Rating|
|State Farm Group||A++|
|Allstate Insurance Group||A+|
|Nationwide Corp Group||A+|
|Liberty Mutual Group||A|
|Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Group||A+|
Customer Satisfaction Rating of Leading Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina
Another factor you should consider while choosing an insurer is the reviews of its customers. It will help you understand if the insurer is good on subjective criteria such as quality of service, and claim settlement process.
You can refer to the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Rating to know what customers think about the top insurers in South Carolina.
Farm Bureau and Auto-Owners score the best in J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction ratings.
Car Insurance Companies with MOST Customer Complaints in South Carolina
Another critical factor is the number of complaints against an insurer.
|State Farm Group||0.44||1482|
|Liberty Mutual Group||5.95||222|
|Allstate Insurance Group||0.5||163|
|Nationwide Corp Group||0.28||25|
|Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Group||0||3|
As per the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Travelers Group and Southern Farm Bureau received the least number of complaints.
Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina
|Company||Average premium rate||Compared to State Average ($3,781.41)|
|Bristol West Select||$4,691.85||$910.71|
|Geico Govt Employees||$3,178.01||-$603.13|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||$3,625.49||-$155.65|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$3,071.34||-$709.80|
In South Carolina, State Farm and Geico are cheapest insurance providers.
However, these are average figures, and your insurance quote might be different.
Car Insurance Premium Rates by Annual Commute in South Carolina
|Companies||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.|
Some insurers do provide discounts if your annual commute is around 6,000 miles.
Car Insurance Premium Rates by Coverage Level in South Carolina
On average, State Farm and Geico provide the cheapest premium rates for both high and low coverage levels.
Car Insurance Premium Rates by Credit History in South Carolina
If you have poor credit, Nationwide or State Farm may be able to provide you the cheapest premium rates.
However, with a good credit score, Geico, State Farm, USAA can provide you the best rates.
It is critical that you shop around to find the cheapest rates as different insurers weigh each factor differently.
Car Insurance Premium Rates by Driving Record in South Carolina
|Company||Clean record||With 1 speeding violation||With 1 DUI||With 1 accident|
A clean driving record is vital for discounted premium rates. A DUI charge or at-fault accident can substantially increase your premium rates.
However, your insurance rate might be different depending on your driving record, credit score, annual commute, and other factors.
Largest Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina
|Companies||Direct Premiums Written||Market Share|
|State Farm Group||$949,692||23.88%|
|Allstate Insurance Group||$473,094||11.90%|
|Nationwide Corp Group||$283,086||7.12%|
|Liberty Mutual Group||$206,434||5.19%|
|Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Group||$134,639||3.39%|
Number of Insurance Companies in South Carolina
South Carolina has 19 domestic insurers and 993 foreign insurers.
A domestic insurer would be based in South Carolina, while a foreign insurer is from a different state operating in South Carolina.
South Carolina State Laws
We understand that with so many laws, it might get confusing to follow.
That is why we have put together a quick recap of all the relevant laws and regulations so that you remain safe on the road and save on your premium rates.
Yes, a clean driving record can get you discounts on your insurance.
Car Insurance Laws in South Carolina
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, states determine the type of tort rule applicable in the state, the minimum liability insurance required, and the system of approval for insurers.
In South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Insurance is the primary regulator for the insurance industry.
The insurers can file and use insurance rates if the change is under 7 percent. However, if the rate change is over 7 percent, the insurer has to seek prior approval from the Department of Insurance.
Windshield Coverage Laws in South Carolina
According to the South Carolina Department of Insurance, comprehensive insurance covers broken windshields, and there is no deductible for private passenger vehicles.
This is a valuable inclusion and makes it worth to opt for comprehensive coverage in your policy.
High-Risk Insurance in South Carolina
Your insurer can deny you coverage if you have accumulated multiple DUI convictions or at-fault accidents!
With a poor driving record, your insurer might deem you as a risk
But, everyone in life deserves a second chance. What can you do if you are denied coverage?
You can apply for the South Carolina Automobile Insurance Plan. The AIP assign you to an insurer based on a quota. The premium cost may be higher, but the coverage remains equivalent to the voluntary market.
To be eligible to apply for AIP, you have to declare and certify that you tried and failed to purchase an auto insurance policy in the voluntary market for the preceding 60 days.
Remember: Once you are enrolled for a policy under AIP, aim to improve your driving record so that you can purchase a policy in the voluntary market.
If you are convicted to DUI or have had your driver’s license suspended, you may have to purchase an SR-22 auto insurance policy.
SR-22 policy: Your insurer has to file an SR-22 form along with your policy as proof with the Department of Motor Vehicles that you are covered under the minimum required insurance.
You may not be able to reinstate your driving priveledges without filing an SR22 form.
Low-Cost Insurance in South Carolina
South Carolina does not have a specific low-cost insurance plan. You should shop around for the cheapest insurance premium that fits your requirements.
Auto Insurance Fraud in South Carolina
Auto insurance fraud is a serious crime in South Carolina.
Insurance fraud can increase legal costs, potential losses for companies, and subsequent increase in premium rates for the consumers.
Some common auto insurance frauds include staged accidents, inflated claims bill, misrepresentation of facts in auto insurance, etc.
Here are the broad types of insurance fraud:
The penalties for auto insurance fraud are severe in South Carolina.
|Offense type||Fraud amount||Charge type||Fine||Jail time|
|First||< $1,000||Misdemeanor||$100-$500||Up to 30 days|
|$1,000-$10,000||Misdemeanor||$2,000-$10,000||up to three years|
|$10,000-$50,000||Felony||$10,000-$50,000||up to five years|
|> $50,000||Felony||$20,000-$100,000||up to 10 years|
|Second (or subsequent)||All amounts||Felony||$20,000-$100,000||up to 10 years|
Despite the stiff penalties, auto insurance fraud is a growing menace in South Carolina. The state ranks in the top ten for insurance frauds.
If you are a victim of insurance fraud or are witness to one, please report the crime.
You can report the crime to the Department of Insurance:
- Ph: 803-737-6132 or 803-737-6200
- Email: [email protected]
You can also connect with the South Carolina Attorney General’s office:
- Ph: 803-734-3970
- Insurance Fraud Hotline: 1-888-95-FRAUD (1-888-953-7283)
- South Carolina Attorney General insurance fraud web page
Statute of Limitations in South Carolina
The statute of limitations in South Carolina is three years for personal injury and property damage.
What is the statute of limitations?
The time until which you can sue a third party for injury or damage.
Vehicle Licensing Laws in South Carolina
A valid driver’s license is a prerequisite for driving in South Carolina. You will not be able to purchase auto insurance without a valid license.
If your license is up for renewal, consider opting for a REAL ID-compliant drivers license.
Let us review the license renewal procedure in South Carolina.
REAL ID implementation in South Carolina
Do you know about REAL ID?
Starting October 1st, 2020, you will require REAL ID-complaint identification document to enter federal buildings or board domestic flights.
You can opt for a REAL ID-compliant drivers license by visiting yourlocal DMV office.
However, you do not need a REAL ID-compliant drivers license to drive in South Carolina. You can also enter federal buildings or board a domestic flight if you have the following documentation:
- US Passport
- Foreign Passport
- U.S. Military ID
- Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in South Carolina
You are required to maintain valid car insurance or forms of financial responsibility for all registered vehicles in South Carolina.
Failure to maintain insurance can attract severe penalties or possible jail time.
Financial Penalty: For the first offense, the fine is between $100-$200. The fine can increase to a minimum of $200 for any subsequent offense.
License and registration Suspension: If you failed to surrender registration and plates when your insurance lapsed, your registration and plates are suspended until you show proof of insurance and pay the $200 reinstatement fee.
Jail: For the first offense, you may be able to avoid jail time by paying the fine. However, for any subsequent offense, you might be jailed for 30 days.
Other repercussions: Apart from the penalty, you may also have to file an SR22 form if your previous policy lapsed. An SR22 filing will increase the cost of your policy premium.
Additionally, driving without insurance can also have severe financial implications if you cause an accident.
Teen Driving Laws in South Carolina
Much like other states, South Carolina laws also allow for for a three-stage method for teen drivers.
A teen can apply for an instruction permit at the age of 15 and receive the permit by 16.5 years old. The instruction permit allows a teen to practice driving under the supervision of an instructor, parent, or a licensed driver over the age of 21.
The next stage is the intermediate driver’s license that a teen can obtain by passing a road test and accumulating 40 hours of driving practice with a permit.
If you are applying for a full driver’s license, consider opting for a REAL ID-compliant license.
License Renewal Procedure in South Carolina
In South Carolina, the unrestricted driver’s license has an eight-year validity. Also, regardless of age, you will have to provide proof of vision for every renewal.
You can also renew online or visit the nearest DMV office.
New Resident Licensing Procedure on South Carolina
If you are moving to South Carolina, visit the DMV page to learn about the license, registration, and title application in South Carolina.
You have to visit the nearest DMV office to exchange your current out-of-state license.
Rules of the Road in South Carolina
It is critical for your safety that you obey the road rules and regulations.
However, following the rules will also keep your driving record clean, which means a lower premium rate!
So, let us quickly review some essential rules and regulations.
Fault vs. No-Fault
South Carolina is an at-fault state. Which means that in South Carolina, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for any damage or injury to the third party.
Seat belt and Car Seat Laws in South Carolina
Seat belts are https://www.michigan.gov/difs/0,5269,7-303-13648_60666_77606-391035–,00.html in passenger safety in the event of an accident.
In South Carolina, it is mandatory to wear seatbelts for anyone over the age of eight. The penalty for not wearing a seatbelt if $25 for the first offense.
Remember: In South Carolina, not wearing a seatbelt is considered a primary offense and the police can stop and fine you.
Seatbelts are even more imperative for children. Not wearing a seatbelt can prove fatal for a child in case of an accident.
Here are a few tips for child safety:
A rear-facing child restraint is appropriate for a child younger than two unless the child has outgrown the height and weight limit suggested by the manufacturer.
If your child is older than two or has outgrown the manufacturer’s seat limits, you restraint him or her in a forward-facing child seat.
If your child is four years or older, you must use a belt-positioning booster until the age of eight or if the child has outgrown the manufacturer’s limits.
Remember: It is the driver’s responsibility that a child is secured in an appropriate seat. If not, you can fined $150 for failure to use the appropriate safety precautions.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws in South Carolina
In South Carolina, you must keep right if you are driving slower than the average speed of traffic around you.
You are also required to slow down or if possible, vacate the closest lane to a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights.
Speed Limits in South Carolina
|Type of Road||Speed Limit (mph)|
|Other limited access road||60|
Ridesharing Laws in South Carolina
There are no specific laws governing ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft in South Carolina.
However, you should be aware that your personal insurance policy might not provide coverage when you are driving for Uber and Lyft. It would be best if you talk to your insurer.
Automation on the Road in South Carolina
There is no specific law governing automated vehicles in South Carolina. This means that driverless cars are neither banned nor are they welcomed by the state.
You can operate an autonomous vehicle, but they will be subject to the same liability as to any traditional vehicle.
Safety Laws in South Carolina
We all want to drive on safe roads with no reckless or impaired drivers endangering others.
DUI Laws in South Carolina
In 2017, there were 313 alcohol-related driving fatalities in South Carolina.
South Carolina has a higher percentage of alcohol-related driving fatalities to total fatalities compared to the national average. Naturally, the state has severe penalties to deter people from driving under the influence.
|FIRST||Six months||48 hours - 30 days||$400||Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program|
|SECOND||One year license revocation||five days to one year||$2,100-$5,100||Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program; two years of IID|
|THIRD||Minimum two years; four years if within five years of first offense||60 days to three years||$3,800-$6,300||Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program; three years of IID; treatment when ordered; vehicle confiscated|
|FOURTH||Permanent||one to five years|
The lookback period in South Carolina is ten years.
Lookback period: Is the time frame in which any repeated offense is counted as subsequent offense and attracts harsher penalties.
Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws in South Carolina
It is illegal to possess or use Marijuana in South Carolina. The state law will not only punish the offender for possession but also under DUI charge.
Remember: Marijuana can remain in your system for days, weeks or even month and therefore may result in a DUI charge.
Distracted Driving Laws in South Carolina
National data suggests that 64 percent of all car accidents involved cell phone usage.
It is illegal to text while driving in South Carolina. There is no ban on handheld devices, even for teen drivers.
However, it would wise not to use phones or other handheld devices while driving, especially in South Carolina.
Here are some stats that suggest that you should be more focused on the road while driving in South Carolina:
- South Carolina is worst in the country in traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
- In 2017, 982 people died in traffic accidents in SC. This is equivalent to one death per nine hours on SC roads
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, South Carolina drivers are ranked sixth worst in the country
- South Carolina drivers are fifth-most careless and 11th worst in speeding across the country
Driving in South Carolina
Insurance premium rates are also determined based on factors that are not in your control, such as vehicle theft, fatalities, and traffic congestion.
Let us review these factors in South Carolina.
Vehicle Theft in South Carolina
|Vehicle Type||Model Year||NUMBER OF VEHICLES STOLEN|
|Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2006||685|
|Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||2006||470|
|Dodge Pickup (Full Size)||2005||163|
|Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||2000||161|
As per the National Insurance Crime Bureau, 2006 Ford Pickup was the most stolen vehicle in South Carolina in 2017.
To search for vehicle theft in your city, refer to the data provided by the FBI:
|Isle of Palms||7|
|North Myrtle Beach||115|
Road Fatalities in South Carolina
A lot of reasons can cause road accidents that lead to fatalities. Let us review the possible reasons causing these accidents:
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition in South Carolina
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other / Unknown||Total|
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County in South Carolina
Fatalities by Road Type in South Carolina
The table provides a trend for the last ten years. It clearly shows that rural roads are far dangerous compared to urban roads.
Fatalities by Person Type in South Carolina
|Light Truck - Pickup||110||118||105||118||116|
|Light Truck - Utility||94||106||121||118||133|
|Light Truck - Van||16||15||34||30||18|
|Light Truck - Other||0||1||0||3||2|
|Bicyclist and Other Cyclist||15||14||16||25||18|
Fatalities by Crash Type in South Carolina
|Total Fatalities (All Crashes)||767||823||979||1,020||988|
|Involving a Large Truck||64||63||114||104||90|
|Involving a Rollover||190||194||208||215||234|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||473||501||541||568||575|
|Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)||141||150||200||233||173|
Five-Year Fatality Trend for the top ten Counties in South Carolina
|South Carolina Counties by 2017 Ranking||Fatalities Per 100,000 Population|
|Sub Rate 1||Top Ten Counties||36||42.93||44.26||57.35||47.16|
|Sub Rate 2||All Other Counties||14.62||15.41||18.14||18.56||18|
|Total Rate||All Counties||16.09||17.06||20.01||20.57||19.66|
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County in South Carolina
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver (BAC=.08+) by County in South Carolina
Teen Drinking and Driving in South Carolina
Drunk driving can be fatal, especially in the case of teens. Their inexperience in driving can lead to fatal crashes.
In 2016, 90 teens were arrested for DUI in South Carolina, making it the 26th ranked state in terms of teen DUI arrests.
South Carolina witnessed 1.8 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 under-21 residents. This is much higher than the national average of 1.2 driving fatalities for under-21 drivers.
– EMS Response Time in South Carolina
|Total Fatal Crashes|
No data is available at this time for EMS response time. We will update this section as soon as we have the relevant data.
Transportation in South Carolina
As per DataUSA, an average South Carolinian lives in a two-car household, spend less time in commute, and drive alone to work.
Car Ownership in South Carolina
An average household in South Carolina owns two cars.
Commute Time in South Carolina
At 23.4 minutes, the commute time is shorter for South Carolinian compared to the national average of 25.5 minutes.
Only around six percent of commuters have a commute above 60 minutes, whereas the national average is 9.5 percent.
Commuter Transportation in South Carolina
81.8 percent of commuters prefer to drive alone to work in South Carolina, whereas 76.4 percent drive alone to work nationally.
Traffic Congestion in South Carolina
TomTom lists Greenville and Columbia in its most congested city list.
Greenville witnessed a 2 percent rise in congestion in 2018 compared to 2017.
We hope the insurance guide on South Carolina was helpful for you to figure out the best insurance coverage for your needs. You can start comparison shopping today by entering your zip code below in our FREE tool.