South Carolina auto insurers consider various factors like age, credit history, driving record and location when determining the cost of their policies. MoneyGeek ranked the top auto insurance providers in the state based on affordability, client satisfaction, financial strength and more. MoneyGeek’s rankings can help you find the most accurate quotes and suitable coverage options. Comparing car insurance premiums from some of the most popular companies in South Carolina could help you save up to $528.
The Best Cheap Car Insurance in South Carolina for 2021
The Cheapest and Best Car Insurance in South Carolina
For drivers looking for cheap car insurance in South Carolina, the most affordable option is a liability-only policy. This type of insurance only meets the state minimum requirements.
Based on average rates for minimum coverage, the cheapest auto insurance companies in South Carolina are:
- GEICO: $470 per year
- USAA: $500 per year (only available to current and former military members)
The most expensive car insurance company in South Carolina for minimum coverage is Nationwide, with an average cost of $761 per year.
Average Cost for Minimun Liability Coverage
These are average rates and should only serve as a guide for comparing prices between car insurance providers.
These prices are only estimates based on rates for an average South Carolina driver and should not be used to compare insurance prices.
The minimum coverage policy is the cheapest available insurance option in South Carolina, but it only covers bodily injury, property damage liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist. If you want to have higher liability coverage amounts or additional protection against expenses related to damages to your car, you should consider a full coverage policy.
South Carolina drivers who want protection against most road and off-road accidents should consider a full coverage policy with higher liability limits and comprehensive and collision insurance. While a policy with full coverage costs more than the minimum coverage, it covers damages to the policyholder's car. Compare quotes from multiple insurers to find the best auto insurance.
The cheapest car insurance companies for South Carolina drivers who want a full coverage policy are:
- GEICO: $853 per year
- USAA: $926 per year (only available to members of the military)
Progressive has an average annual rate of $1,380, making it the most expensive car insurance for full coverage in South Carolina.
Average Comprehensive and Collision Rates in South Carolina
Auto insurance carriers evaluate individual circumstances to determine premiums, so your rate will not be the same as the examples provided. These are average rates based on a comprehensive and collision policy that allows claims up to $100,000 for bodily injury per person, $300,000 for bodily injury per accident and $100,000 for property damage per accident.
The Best Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina for 2021
MoneyGeek ranked auto insurance companies in South Carolina. The best insurers for most drivers are:
- Best Overall: Auto-Owners
- Runner-up: GEICO
USAA received the highest score in South Carolina by MoneyGeek's rating system. However, because USAA is only available to military members, veterans and their families, it is not listed as best overall.
MoneyGeek used a unique rating system based on studies from J.D. Power and AM Best, as well as pricing data and industry standards for insurance company rating and review. MoneyGeek weighed each criterion equally to formulate the final score out of 100.
Aside from affordability, MoneyGeek considered claims experience and customer satisfaction to find the best car insurance in South Carolina.
USAA’s high ratings across multiple categories placed it first among auto insurance providers in South Carolina. Keep in mind that only current and former military members qualify for USAA policies.
USAA is consistently among the most affordable and best options in most states, including South Carolina. It offers different saving opportunities to qualified and loyal policyholders. For example, you can get a discount if your parents had USAA policies as well. Active military members can also get a discount if they garage their vehicles on base.Read MoneyGeek's USAA auto Insurance Review
With high ratings in multiple categories, Auto-Owners is the second-best auto insurance carrier in South Carolina. It is a good option for drivers who don’t qualify for USAA policies.
Auto-Owners gives its policyholders the option to get additional riders on their auto insurance policy. You can get a package that includes optional coverages, such as identity theft, re-keying locks and replacing your cell phone. The company will also waive your collision deductible if you are in an accident with another Auto-Owners policyholder.Read MoneyGeek's Auto-Owners Insurance Co auto Insurance Review
While USAA scores highly in many areas, this provider is only available to military members, veterans and their families.
List of the Largest Insurance Companies in South Carolina
In terms of market share, the largest auto insurance carriers in South Carolina are State Farm, GEICO and Allstate. To calculate market share, divide the total number of premiums an insurance company has written by the total number of premiums written in the state. Larger companies do not necessarily have the best rates, but they tend to have higher levels of financial stability and can reimburse legitimate claims.
- CompanyMarket Share
How to Compare Cheap South Carolina Car Insurance Quotes Online
Most carriers in South Carolina have online tools where you can get reasonably accurate quotes.
When comparing quotes, make sure that they have similar coverage levels. If you get a quote from one company for a policy with $300,000 in bodily liability insurance per accident, then use the same limits with other providers.
Start comparing quotes by entering your ZIP code below. You can also use MoneyGeek’s price data as a guide when choosing which companies’ websites to view,
GEICO, USAA and State Farm have the most affordable rates for the average driver in South Carolina. You can begin your search for the best car insurance by asking for quotes from these companies.
What Is the Average Cost of Car Insurance in South Carolina?
MoneyGeek calculated the average cost of annual premiums for car insurance in South Carolina for a typical driver with comprehensive and collision coverage. The average driver is a 40-year-old man with a Toyota Camry with a clean driving record. To get the best car insurance in South Carolina, shop around for accurate quotes based on individualized factors like age, credit score, driving history and coverage level.
- Average Driver: $1,139
- DUI: $1,772
- Speeding Ticket: $1,363
- Poor Credit Score: $1,900
- Seniors: $1,192
- Students: $2,779
South Carolina drivers with a serious violation, such as a DUI, have higher rates than those with clean driving records. The average cost of auto insurance for South Carolina drivers with DUI is $1,722 per year. Average drivers with a clean record only pay an average of $1,139 per year.
South Carolina drivers with a DUI and full coverage can find the most affordable rates from:
- State Farm: $1,137 per year
- Allstate: $1,594 per year
In comparison, GEICO and USAA are the cheapest auto insurance carriers for South Carolina drivers with a clean record.
Average Car Insurance Rates With a DUI
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 3,299 people died in alcohol-related car accidents in South Carolina from 2009-2018. 1.5% of South Carolina drivers admitted to driving after drinking too much in the last 30 days.
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 car insurance 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.
Insurers in South Carolina charge drivers with minor driving violations like speeding tickets more than those with clean records. Drivers with a speeding ticket pay an average of $1,363 per year, which is $224 more than the drivers with a clean record.
The cheapest auto insurance carriers in South Carolina for a driver with a speeding ticket and full coverage are:
- GEICO: $853 per year
- State Farm: $1,137 per year
State Farm has lower rates for South Carolina drivers with a speeding ticket than USAA, which is the second most affordable company for drivers with a clean record.
Average Car Insurance Rates With a Ticket
Other driving habits that can negatively affect your insurance rates are speeding tickets and distracted driving. 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.
A poor credit score can lead to higher auto insurance rates in South Carolina. The average cost of car insurance in the state for drivers with healthy credit scores is $1,139 per year. Having a poor credit score increases the average rate to $1,900 annually.
The cheapest insurers in South Carolina for drivers with poor credit scores and full coverage are:
- Nationwide: $1,654 per year
- GEICO: $1,837 per year
Although GEICO and USAA have the lowest rates for the average driver with good credit scores, Nationwide offers lower rates for those with poor credit scores.
Average Car Insurance Rates for Drivers With Bad Credit
Yet another factor that plays a big role in insurance rates is your 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 above 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.
Seniors pay slightly higher rates than young adults and middle-aged drivers in South Carolina. The average cost of auto insurance in the state for senior drivers is $1,192, which is $53 more than the average rate for a 40-year-old driver.
Based on MoneyGeek’s study, the cheapest car insurance companies for seniors with full coverage in South Carolina are:
- GEICO: $843 per year
- USAA: $991 per year (only available to current and former military personnel)
GEICO and USAA are also the cheapest car insurance companies for the average 40-year-old driver in South Carolina.
Average Car Insurance Rates for Seniors
According to the NHTSA, in South Carolina, 13.8% of fatal accidents affect drivers age 65 and older. 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.
Car insurance companies in South Carolina tend to charge students more than adult drivers because of risk and inexperience. The average cost of car insurance for student drivers in the state is $2,779 per year. The average adult driver pays an average of $1,139 per year.
The cheapest car insurance companies in South Carolina or student drivers with full coverage are:
- GEICO: $2,525 per year
- Nationwide: $2,650 per year
Nationwide has lower rates for student drivers than USAA, which is the second cheapest option for the average 40-year-old driver.
Average Car Insurance Rates for Students
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. 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 above chart provides estimates of what you can expect to pay for auto insurance for younger drivers.
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 over 55,000 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.
Average Rates for South Carolina service members
Car Insurance in South Carolina: What You Need to Know
If you own any type of vehicle in South Carolina, you need auto insurance unless you 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 be legal to drive in South Carolina without insurance, we don’t recommend it. If you’re in an accident, you’ll be 100% responsible for injuries and damages, which can get expensive.
Proof of Insurance in South Carolina
To drive legally, you must carry proof of insurance or an alternative at all times. According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, you may need to show this proof:
- When registering or renewing a vehicle
- When applying for or renewing a driver's license
- 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.
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 must carry auto liability insurance. The minimum policy is 25/50/25 coverage, as follows:
- $25,000 for each injured person per accident
- $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 injury or death per person
- $50,000 for injury or death per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
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. For example, if the insurer determines that you are 50% responsible, they may reduce your claim by up to 50%.
High-Risk Auto Insurance Program in South Carolina
If auto insurance companies turn you down 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 legally drive if you present proof of financial responsibility. There are two acceptable alternatives:
- Surety Bond: You may acquire a surety bond or a real estate bond with 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 treasurer's office. The treasurer will issue a certificate you can show the DMV.
How Much Coverage Do You Need in South Carolina?
Sometimes the minimum insurance required by a state is not enough to cover what it will cost should you get in an accident. If it fits in your budget, consumer and insurance experts recommend a liability policy covering $100,000 for one person and $300,000 for the entire accident. You may also want to consider collision and comprehensive insurance to cover your car and medical costs.
Average Insurance Rate by City in South Carolina
FAQs About Car Insurance in South Carolina
When choosing auto insurance in South Carolina, drivers should consider various factors. The most common concerns related to car insurance in the state usually center around the price and which companies are the best.
Expert Advice on Finding Cheap Car Insurance in South Carolina
To help you find reliable and accurate insight on car insurance in South Carolina, MoneyGeek received expert advice from proven professionals. The perspectives and sentiments conveyed are those of the individual contributor.
- What are the key factors drivers in South Carolina should look for when searching for the best auto insurance coverage?
- What steps can drivers in South Carolina take to find affordable car insurance?
- How do regulations and rules in South Carolina impact insurance pricing and how consumers might shop for coverage?
Clinical Associate Professor, Finance Department and Director, Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management; Darla Moore School of Business; University of South Carolina
Assistant Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship at Newberry College
John M. Olin Palmetto Chair Professor in Business and Professor of Marketing at The University of South Carolina, Aiken
About the Author
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