Why South Carolina Car Insurance Might Be Expensive for You

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ByMark Fitzpatrick
ByMark Fitzpatrick

Updated: May 20, 2024

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At $1,139 per year, the average cost of auto insurance in South Carolina is cheaper than more expensive states like New York or Michigan but still more expensive than other states in the country. Many factors contribute to these higher insurance costs, such as heavy highway traffic density or vehicle theft rates, but it can also depend on a driver’s particular situation. To find cheap auto insurance in South Carolina, residents must be proactive when shopping around for policies.

Key Takeaways

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Auto insurance rates may be higher for South Carolina residents who live in certain zip codes or areas with heavy highway traffic density.

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High rates of accidents within South Carolina may also contribute to expensive auto insurance premiums in a given area.

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Auto insurance premiums in South Carolina go up every year, with residents experiencing an average of $114 uptick in rates — an 11.8% increase — between 2015 and 2021.

Why Car Insurance Could Be Expensive in South Carolina

Insurers determine the cost of auto insurance in South Carolina using factors related to location and driver profiles. While drivers can control some of these factors to mitigate the risk of high premiums, others are out of their hands and must be planned for accordingly.

Personal Factors

Insurance companies in South Carolina use your personal information to determine your level of risk, which then dictates your premiums. Details like your age, gender and marital status are considered. Additionally, insurers factor traffic violations you have, the type of vehicle you drive, your mileage, the distance you commute to calculate your auto insurance rates.

Driving history alone can impact premiums greatly, as drivers in the state with a clean record pay an average of $1,139 per year for auto insurance, but those with a speeding ticket pay $224 more or $1,363 per year.

Your Zip Code

Where you live and drive in South Carolina also affects auto insurance premiums. North Charleston, for instance, has two zip codes where drivers pay more than the rest of the state — 29405 and 29418. Drivers in the ​​29418 zip code pay an average of $1,262 per year for auto insurance, which is $152 more expensive than residents in the cheapest South Carolina zip code pay for coverage.

High Rates of Vehicle Theft or Vandalism

Drivers who live in cities and counties with a high risk of theft or vandalism may pay more for auto insurance. For example, Richland County’s motor vehicle theft rate reached 58 thefts per 10,000 residents in 2019, much higher than the state average of 30.6. As a result, drivers in Columbia — a city in the county — pay an average of $1,144 per year for auto insurance, which is a little higher than the state average of $1,139.

Highway Traffic Density

Insurers consider the highway traffic density of an area when determining premiums since more dense traffic leads to increased risks on the road. For instance, frequent bumper-to-bumper traffic in South Carolina can increase the likelihood of crashes. If this leads to more auto insurance claims, insurance providers react by raising premiums.

High Rates of Accidents

The rate of accidents in South Carolina is another factor that contributes to high auto insurance costs. North Charleston, one of the most expensive cities to insure a car within the state, has a high rate of fatal traffic accidents, with an average of 20.31 fatal car accidents per 100,000 people. Residents in the city of Columbia also have high auto insurance premiums, which can be attributed to their rate of fatal car accidents of 11.24 out of 100,000 people.

Car Insurance Rate Trends in South Carolina

Auto insurance rates change every year. As a whole, car insurance rates have been increasing in the United States, and South Carolina is no exception. Case in point: the average ​​cost of auto insurance in South Carolina increased by $114 or 11.8% between 2015 and 2021.

How to Save on Car Insurance in South Carolina

It's not always easy to find cheap car insurance in South Carolina, but with a bit of time and effort, you can definitely reduce your auto insurance costs. Below are a few quick ways to get lower premiums on your auto insurance.

Shop around for the best rates.

Taking the time to gather quotes from at least three auto insurance providers is the easiest way for drivers in South Carolina to get the cheapest rates. Insurers determine your rates based on different factors, and how they weigh them can vary, meaning your premiums can vary dramatically from provider to provider.

Bundle different policies.

Insurers reward individuals who choose to bundle their homeowners, renters and auto policies with a sizeable discount. Compared to other discounts, bundling tends to have the most significant effect on your overall rate and could potentially save you hundreds of dollars every year.

Get as many discounts as you can.

Auto insurance providers in South Carolina offer many easy-to-obtain discounts to attract more business. For instance, you can get money off for being a good driver or having certain safety features in your vehicle. Contact your desired insurer or look at their website for a list of discounts they offer.

Make use of car insurance comparison tools.

Getting quotes from each insurance provider can be time-consuming, which is why you should make use of car insurance comparison tools instead. These can provide you with quotes from multiple insurers at once, giving you an overview of how many options you have and a rough estimate of premiums from each.

Increase your deductible.

Your deductible can significantly affect your premiums, as a higher deductible means lower premiums. If you can afford to pay a higher deductible if you had to file a claim, consider increasing it to save on your monthly costs.

Consider opting for pay-per-mile coverage.

South Carolina drivers who don’t drive often can opt for pay-per-mile insurance coverage. This type of policy charges rates to policyholders based on how many miles they drive and is best for those whose mileage is less than the national average of 13,476 miles.

Frequently Asked Questions About South Carolina Auto Insurance

If you are still confused about the cost of auto insurance in South Carolina, here are a few frequently asked questions.

Is South Carolina car insurance expensive?
What is the minimum car insurance requirement in South Carolina?
How much does car insurance cost in South Carolina?

About Mark Fitzpatrick

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Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.