South Carolina has seen a 6.9% increase in auto insurance premiums over the previous year. With that increase, many state residents are seeking adequate, yet affordable, car insurance. But can insurance be good and affordable? Yes, it can. The key to finding the best car insurance quote is shopping around. Getting quotes from several different companies can increase the chances of finding the cheapest car insurance in South Carolina. Every driver is unique, so quotes are affected by factors like location, driver history, driver age, vehicle make and more.
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The Best Cheap Car Insurance in South Carolina for 2020
- The Best Affordable Car Insurance in South Carolina for 2020
The Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies for SC Drivers in 2020
When you start shopping for your perfect car insurance quote, you’ll most likely choose between five common car insurance companies. The following costs are estimates for drivers in South Carolina. Depending on your personal situation and driving history, these numbers may differ from the quote you’ll receive when you speak with companies directly.
The above insurance quotes are averages. There are a variety of factors that can affect your auto insurance quote: your age and driving history; the age of other drivers on your insurance policy; your history with accidents and DUIs; the make and model of your car; where you live; how many miles you drive; even your personal credit score.
The Best Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina for 2020
Choosing between the best car insurance companies in South Carolina can be overwhelming. MoneyGeek has made it easy to narrow down the options by rating the top insurance companies using a unique rating system.
Companies are given a score out of 100 based on four factors: a company’s ability to pay for their policy holder’s needs, customer satisfaction, claims score and affordability. Each factor is weighted evenly and scores are assessed from reputable outlets such as JD Power’s U.S. Auto Insurance Study and AM Best’s financial strength rating.
Market Share by Company
In South Carolina, State Farm ranks as the largest insurer of car policies in the state, according to a Nation Association of Insurance Commissioners. In the state alone, State Farm writes 22% of direct auto premiums every year. If you’re curious about additional large insurance groups in the state, you can find that information below.
Cheapest Car Insurance for Drivers With a DUI in South Carolina
It’s no secret that a DUI can negatively impact everything from your license to your auto insurance policy. Every state has its own set of laws when it comes to a DUI. In South Carolina, drivers can expect a minimum of 48 hours of jail time accompanied by a $400 to $1,000 fine and a minimum six-month license suspension. Additionally, South Carolina drivers are required to purchase an SR22 insurance certificate with the DMV in order to get their license reinstated. SR22 insurance is high-risk insurance that shows the DMV that you’re properly insured.
Before you purchase your SR22 certificate, you’ll want to assure you’ve shopped around for cheap car insurance quotes. While it can be difficult to find a good rate with a DUI, it’s not impossible. Being a first-time offender will work in your favor as well as working with an insurance professional to compare your options. An SR22 certificate lasts three years, and a DUI in South Carolina will stay with your insurance policy for the same amount of time.
Cheapest Car Insurance for SC Speeding or Distracted Driving Tickets
Another driving habit that can negatively affect your insurance rates are speeding tickets and distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, more than 970 auto accidents were the result of distracted driving in South Carolina. Being responsible for an accident can increase your insurance policy by several hundred or thousands of dollars.
Distracted driving could lead to a reckless driving ticket, which could add up to six demerit points to your record and an increase to your policy for up to three years. If you find yourself needing insurance after a distracted driving ticket, the easiest way to save money is to shop insurance policies, as each insurance company will penalize getting a ticket differently.
Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in SC for Drivers With Bad Credit
Yet another factor that plays a big role in insurance rates is credit score. Fortunately, credit scores are peaking across the nation, with the average FICO score in the United States being 703 in 2019. In South Carolina, the average credit score is 641. But even without a stellar credit score, you can still find affordable car insurance in South Carolina. The following table shows estimates of what people with bad credit can expect to pay for auto insurance in South Carolina.
Some states will put more weight on a credit score than others. Assuring you keep a healthy credit score can help lower your insurance premiums throughout your lifetime.
Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina for Seniors
According to the NHTSA, in South Carolina, 16% of fatal accidents affect drivers age 65 and older, which is 2% lower than the national average. Still, senior drivers are considered high risk because of the potential for slower reaction times and lapsed judgment on the road. All drivers in South Carolina are required to renew their licenses every eight years, regardless of age.
Other factors that can affect car insurance for seniors include health, driving frequency, driving history and the type of vehicle being driven.
Cheapest Car Insurance for Students
South Carolina Car Insurance: How Much a Teen Driver Will Cost You
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$2,347 INCREASE
This is a difference of 157%.
Finding cheap car insurance for young drivers in South Carolina falls on parents adding their child to their insurance policy. South Carolina offers a graduated driver’s license program for teens, which requires teens to obtain a permit for 180 days and be 17 years old before they’re eligible for a full license. Shopping around for the best options can keep your rates affordable, and don’t forget to look into what happens if your child moves out of state and takes their vehicle with them, or if your child is moving to South Carolina for college. The state does not require that out-of-state students get a local license, but your insurance will want to know where your student’s car is being housed.
Seeing as parents are typically the ones covering the costs of teen drivers, knowing what can positively and negatively impact your teen’s insurance policy can help you find affordable insurance. Of course, the safer a driver your teen is, the better the chance that your rates can drop over the years. The following chart provides estimates of what you can expect to pay for auto insurance for younger drivers.
Premium Comparison by Student Type
PREMIUM COMPARISON FOR TWO ADULTS + 16-YEAR-OLD
Town and Country Limiteds$3,266
This is 38% less expensive.
Cheaper premium for college vs. high school drivers
Median premium change with a college student vs. high school driver:
This is a savings of 26%.
Potential discounts for teens in South Carolina
Impact on annual premium with good student and defensive driving discounts:
South Carolina students: a long-distance discount
You may pay a smaller annual family premium if your child lives 150 miles or more away from home.
$3,491 at home
$2,931 at school
$560 IN SAVINGS
$3,040 at home
$2,585 at school
$455 IN SAVINGS
Insurance Rate Information for Military Drivers and Veterans
Many insurance companies in South Carolina will offer a discount to those involved in the military and individuals who are veterans. The state is home to more than 400,000 veterans and 37,000 active-duty service members. For active military members, an insurance company will work with you to store your vehicle while deployed, if necessary, and can suspend your coverage while your vehicle is not in use.
There are a variety of resources that the state provides to help military families find cheap insurance. You can read more about becoming licensed in South Carolina and find the necessary documents to receive a military license with the South Carolina DMV.
Age savings for South Carolina service members
Median auto insurance for service members: $1,166
Who Needs Car Insurance in South Carolina?
If you own any type of vehicle in South Carolina, you need auto insurance. However, the state is one of the few that allows drivers to apply for an Uninsured Motorist Registration. This exception means you’ll be able to register your car without insurance, but you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $550.
While it might not be illegal to drive in South Carolina without insurance, we don’t recommend it. If you’re in an accident you’ll be 100% responsible for damages to yourself and anyone or anything you collide with, which can get expensive.
Proof of Insurance in South Carolina
To drive legally, you must carry proof of insurance or an alternative (see below) at all times. According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, you may need to show this proof:
- When registering a vehicle
- When applying for a driver's license
- When renewing a driver's license
- When renewing a vehicle registration
- If asked by a police officer
- If involved in a car accident
The state also allows drivers to use their smartphones to show proof of insurance during a traffic stop.
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements in South Carolina
South Carolina has several liability insurance requirements for drivers related to bodily injury, property damage and uninsured motorist coverage. Every driver in South Carolina is required by state law to carry auto liability insurance. The minimum policy is 25/50/25 coverage, as follows:
- $25,000 for each injured person per accident
- Up to a total of $50,000 for two or more injured persons per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
All auto insurance policies in South Carolina must also include this minimum uninsured motorist coverage:
- $25,000 for property damage.
- $25,000 for injury or death per person
- $50,000 for injury or death per accident
The uninsured motorist annual fee is not insurance, so if you get that, you would have to pay for any damages yourself.
Unlike in some other states, insurance companies in South Carolina can reduce the amount of your claim in proportion to your fault in an accident. If it's determined that you are 50% responsible, for example, your claim may be reduced by up to 50%.
High-Risk Auto Insurance Program in South Carolina
If you have been turned down by auto insurance companies because of your driving record, you can still apply through the Associated Auto Insurers Plan of South Carolina. To be eligible, you have to prove you've failed to obtain a liability policy in the state in the previous two months.
Alternatives to Insurance in South Carolina
If you don't have insurance, you can still drive legally if you can present proof of financial responsibility. There are two acceptable alternatives:
A surety bond. You may file for a surety bond or a real estate bond that has two individual real estate owners with combined property equity of at least $150,000.
Certificate of Deposit. You can deposit $35,000 in cash or securities with the State Treasurer's office. The State Treasurer will issue a certificate you can show the DMV.
Car Insurance Requirements in SC: How Much Coverage Do You Need?
What percentage of drivers in South Carolina lack vehicle insurance?
National average: 13%
Source:Insurance Information Institute.
Sometimes the minimum insurance required by a state is not enough to cover what it will cost you should you get in an accident. If it fits in your budget, consumer and insurance experts recommend a liability policy that covers $100,000 for a single person in an accident and $300,000 for the entire accident.
You may also want to consider insurance to cover your car or medical costs. For more on the best type of insurance for you, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance.
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Ensure you're getting the best rate for your car insurance. Compare quotes from the top insurance companies.
- American Auto Association. “Licensing & State Laws - South Carolina.” Accessed March 07, 2020.
- American Auto Association. “South Carolina.” Accessed March 08, 2020.
- DUI Process. “South Carolina SR22 Insurance Quotes & Filing Information.” Accessed March 08, 2020.
- Experian. “2019 Consumer Credit Report.” Accessed March 07, 2020.
- International Insurance Institute. “Background On: Teen drivers.” Accessed March 08, 2020.
- National Association of Insurance Companies. “2018 Market Share Reports for Property/Casualty Groups.” Accessed March 08, 2020.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “2017 Data: Older Population.” Accessed March 07, 2020.
- Nolo. “DUI Laws by State.” Accessed March 08, 2020.
- South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “Veterans' Health in South Carolina.” Accessed March 08, 2020.
- South Carolina Department of Insurance. “Automobile Insurance.” Accessed March 07, 2020.
- South Carolina DMV. “Military - License/ID.” Accessed March 08, 2020.