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From 2010 to 2019, the population of South Carolina rose by about 11.3%. As of July 2019, the total population of South Carolina was roughly 5.15 million residents. That’s good news for South Carolina's economic forecast. 

But when it comes to weather forecasts, South Carolinians every year face rising water levels during the Atlantic hurricane season. It runs from June 1 to November 30, peaking August through October – especially in the coastal region of the state. That’s bad news for car owners and insurance providers. Vehicles in the state are prone to damage by the annual battering the Atlantic storms inflict on residents and property.

The state’s roughly 3.8 million licensed drivers must insure their vehicles with a minimum of bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage designed to protect the policyholder.

Unfortunately, those minimum requirements for auto insurance do not include comprehensive coverage which pays for damage to a vehicle from most causes beyond collisions (which are paid for by collision coverage) such as flooding, vandalism, theft, falling objects, and animals. However, that does not mean agents can’t offer collision and comprehensive insurance coverage as part of their sales pitch. In fact, both collision and comprehensive coverage may be required by banks, credit unions, and auto finance companies while they are the lienholder on the vehicle title until the vehicle is paid off by the driver.

Because auto insurance companies include the age of a driver as a risk factor when assessing rates for annual premiums, and because our study examines profiles of drivers aged 25, 35, and 60, it is interesting to note that in South Carolina, the highest amount of drivers among those three age groups is in the group ages 25-29, at more than 328,000. The amount drops below 300,000 in the 35-39 age group to 294,000. But reflecting the Baby Boom migration to warm climates, the 60-64 age group climbs above the 300,000 mark to more than 303,000 drivers in South Carolina. 

Additionally, gender is also a risk factor insurance companies consider when setting rates for policyholders. Female drivers in South Carolina account for nearly 52% of the drivers in the state, at more than 1.8 million, which is nearly 4% more than their male counterparts, at 1.7 million.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina

The rates shown here are based on a study performed by Quadrant Information Services on behalf of U.S. News. The study examined rates from the nine largest car insurance companies in the United States, using certain driver profiles. Your rates will differ.

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How We Found the Cheapest Car Insurance Companies

At U.S. News, we’re all about helping people make life’s important decisions. Our college rankings, launched in 1983, set the standard in educational rankings. Our rankings in other fields, like healthcare, government, and the automotive sphere, help people and thought leaders make choices that make lives better. Now we’re continuing to empower you with the information you need to make the right choices for your life with our Cheapest Car Insurance Rankings. 

Our Study Rates

For this study, U.S. News worked with Quadrant Information Services to analyze a report of insurance rates in all 50 states from the nine largest national car insurance companies, though not every company operates in every state. Quadrant obtained publicly available rate data that car insurers file with state regulators. Our study rates are based on profiles for both male and female drivers aged 25, 35, and 60. Vehicles used include the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150, with annual mileage ranging from 6,000 and 12,000. Three car insurance coverage levels were used, as were credit tiers of good, fair, and poor. Clean driving records and records with one accident, one speeding violation, and one DUI were also used in the calculations of certain driver archetypes. 

To get the study rates shown here, we computed the mean rate for male and female drivers aged 25, 35, and 60 who drive 15,000 miles per year and have medium coverage, good credit, and a clean driving record. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only and should not be considered “average” rates available by individual insurers. Because car insurance rates are based on individual factors, your car insurance rates will differ from the rates shown here. 

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost in South Carolina?

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South Carolina’s average in our study for the seven national insurance companies we analyzed runs about $160 higher than the national average. The South Carolina average annual representative premium is around $1,498, while the national average for seven of the nine national insurers in the state is $1,338.

Let’s look at the highest average study premium in South Carolina and what that company would charge on a national level. The highest annual representative rate in South Carolina is from Farmers Insurance, at $2,583. On a national scale, Farmers comes in over 1,000 lower at $1,538 in our study. 

On the low end in South Carolina, Geico’s representative premium of $1,000 just edges out USAA by about $24. On a national scale, USAA and Geico again come in with the lowest annual averages in our study, though in this case, USAA is the cheaper option. USAA gets its national average annual representative rate down to a shade under $900, while Geico posts a national study rate just over $1,060.

It’s important to note that these averages are not direct quotes from the insurance carriers but rather representative averages for you to use as guidance when comparison shopping for car insurance protection in your state. Insurance companies weigh many different risk factors of individual customers when reaching a decision on annual premiums. We examine the most important risk factors below.

South Carolina Car Insurance Rates by Age

Company

25-year-old female

25-year-old male

35-year-old female

35-year-old male

60-year-old female

60-year-old male

Allstate

$1,671

$1,818

$1,506

$1,506

$1,442

$1,442

Farmers

$3,134

$3,296

$2,272

$2,244

$2,290

$2,261

Geico

$1,175

$1,214

$950

$950

$856

$856

Nationwide

$1,803

$1,943

$1,424

$1,489

$1,259

$1,391

Progressive

$1,818

$1,936

$1,465

$1,366

$1,160

$1,236

State Farm

$1,358

$1,513

$1,232

$1,232

$1,134

$1,134

USAA

$1,223

$1,258

$944

$954

$885

$881

When we looked at the 25-year-old driver profiles in South Carolina, the average annual premium in our analysis was about $100 higher for the male profile than for the female profile. For the 35-year-old profiles, the female profile paid an average of around $7 more, while among 60-year-old profiles, the male profile paid on average about $25 more a month. 

To determine the average rates based on gender and age, we created driver profiles for males and females in each of the following ages: 25 years, 35 years, and 60 years. The profiles also have a clean driving record, insurance coverage for 12,000 miles per year, a medium level of insurance coverage, and a good credit score. We used three vehicles for our driver profiles: the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150.

South Carolina Car Insurance Rates by Mileage

Company

6,000 miles annually

12,000 miles annually

Allstate

$1,442

$1,564

Farmers

$2,583

$2,583

Geico

$974

$1,000

Nationwide

$1,551

$1,551

Progressive

$1,497

$1,497

State Farm

$1,150

$1,267

USAA

$958

$1,024

It’s interesting to note that some insurance companies in our study give discounts to those who drive about 6,000 miles a year versus 12,000 miles a year. Others charge the same rate no matter how much – or how little – a profile drove. On average among the companies in our study, three charged the exact same representative rate regardless of mileage. Farmers Insurance is far and away the most expensive in either category, at a whopping $2,583 per year. Nationwide and Progressive also turned a blind eye to differentiating between driver profiles with 6,000 miles and those with 12,000 miles, with study rates for both profiles of $1,552 and $1,497, respectively. The difference between the averages among all the companies for these profiles was only $47 more for the profile with high mileage than for the one with low mileage.

We created two driver profiles to compare how annual mileage can change car insurance rates: one with low mileage (6,000 miles per year) and one with high mileage (12,000 miles per year). The profiles covered males and females in the 25-, 35-, and 60-year-old age groups with a medium level of insurance coverage, a good credit score, and a clean driving record. The vehicles used in our study were the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150.

South Carolina Car Insurance Rates by Coverage Type

Company

Low

Medium

High

Allstate

$1,466

$1,564

$1,692

Farmers

$2,329

$2,583

$2,840

Geico

$927

$1,000

$1,105

Nationwide

$1,532

$1,551

$1,603

Progressive

$1,400

$1,497

$1,695

State Farm

$1,155

$1,267

$1,383

USAA

$952

$1,024

$1,114

South Carolina, as a state with the tort system where the burden of liability is on the driver who caused the car accident, is probably a good place to spend a little more on your average premium to get sufficient auto insurance coverage in the event of an accident.

The average annual representative premium in South Carolina is $1,395 for basic coverage. The study rate went up by $100 more a year for medium coverage; and about an additional $135 more per year for high coverage over medium coverage. For about $240 a year more than basic coverage, it may be better to pay more for high coverage in the event of a serious accident or a natural disaster, since the costs passed on to you associated with property damage or bodily injury following an accident could easily surpass $240.

We created identical profiles in our study to represent drivers, then found out how rates changed with the three levels of coverage. The profiles were assigned a clean driving record, a good credit score, and 12,000 miles of annual driving. We used both males and females aged 25, 35, and 60. The 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150 were the vehicles used in our analysis. 

South Carolina Car Insurance Rates by Credit Score

Company

Good

Fair

Poor

Allstate

$1,564

$1,860

$2,409

Farmers

$2,583

$2,836

$3,594

Geico

$1,000

$1,325

$2,200

Nationwide

$1,551

$1,796

$2,104

Progressive

$1,497

$1,860

$2,463

State Farm

$1,267

$1,592

$2,564

USAA

$1,024

$1,170

$2,314

It seems like in state after state in the U.S. News car insurance study, an individual’s credit history plays a bigger role than most consumers may realize. It appears to rank right behind driving records as one of the biggest risk factors used in deciding to offer car insurance coverage.

On average, a poor credit rating in our study will cost a driver profile $744 more a year than a fair credit rating. The difference in the average study rates when comparing profiles with poor credit and those with good credit is about $1,100 per year (or nearly $100 per month).

Based on profiles of male and female drivers aged 25, 35, and 60, our study verified that credit scores affect car insurance rates. We created a profile for each level of credit score (good, fair, and poor) and assigned the profiles a clean driving record, a good credit score, a medium level of insurance coverage, and 12,000 miles of annual driving. The 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150 were the vehicles used in our analysis. 

South Carolina Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record

Company

Clean record

With 1 speeding violation

With 1 accident

With 1 DUI

Allstate

$1,564

$2,074

$2,628

$2,202

Farmers

$2,583

$3,360

$3,566

$3,220

Geico

$1,000

$1,000

$1,458

$2,426

Nationwide

$1,551

$1,817

$2,502

$3,064

Progressive

$1,497

$1,846

$2,407

$1,759

State Farm

$1,267

$1,366

$1,514

$1,366

USAA

$1,024

$1,261

$1,493

$1,859

Our representative profiles in South Carolina would pay on average about $1,498 a year with a clean driving record. Adding a DUI to that clean record and the average annual premium in our study jumps all the way to $2,271, an increase of $773. The representative rate with a DUI is only $47 higher a year than the average with one accident on the profile's record. A speeding violation would carry a penalty of $320 above the clean record, with a study rate of $1,818 with a speeding ticket compared to $1,498 with a clean record.

To find out just how much of an effect a person's driving record has on insurance rates, we made driving profiles with a clean record, with one speeding violation, with one accident, and with one instance of driving under the influence (DUI). These driving record representative profiles were based on 25-, 35-, and 60-year-old males and females who drove 12,000 miles per year and had a medium level of insurance coverage and a good credit score. Vehicles used in the analysis were the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150.

South Carolina Car Insurance Rates by City

City

Average Rate

Charleston

$1,546

Columbia

$1,549

Goose Creek

$1,533

Greenville

$1,420

Hilton Head Island

$1,310

Mount Pleasant

$1,435

North Charleston

$1,574

Rock Hill

$1,537

Summerville

$1,711

Sumter

$1,525

When it comes to insurance representative rates in South Carolina cities, they are relatively consistent across the state. Of the 10 cities in our study, half of those cities have average annual study rates in the $1,500 range. These include Charleston, the largest city, and Columbia, the state capital. Two cities are in the $1,400 range, and only Summerville has study rates that climb above $1,700. Hilton Head Island had the lowest representative premium of all the cities in our analysis, at $1,300 per year.

Within each state, insurance rates can vary dramatically from city to city. To get a sense of how these differences affect car insurance premiums, we looked at average representative rates across 10 of Iowa’s top cities. In our study, we used male and female driver profiles aged 25, 35, and 60 who put 12,000 miles on the odometer each year. Our profiles have medium insurance coverage, a clean driving record, and good credit. We included three vehicles in our study: the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150.

South Carolina Auto Insurance Minimum Coverage Requirements

Drivers in South Carolina are required to have liability insurance and uninsured motorist insurance before they can legally drive in the state. 

Here are the minimum required coverages in South Carolina:

  • Bodily injury liability insurance: $25,000 per person and $50,000 for all persons in one accident. 
  • Property damage liability insurance: $25,000 per accident.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance: $25,000 per person and $50,000 for all persons in one accident
  • Uninsured motorist property damage insurance: $25,000 per accident with a $200 deductible.

Bodily injury liability insurance covers claims for medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering of the other party in an accident you caused. Property damage insurance pays for damage you cause to the property of others, such as their vehicle, building, wall, fences, or other equipment. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you from other drivers who don't have insurance coverage. It pays out if you are injured or your property is damaged by a hit-and-run-driver or an uninsured driver.

Beyond these minimum auto insurance requirements, insurance carriers in South Carolina are required to offer drivers underinsured motorist coverage, but the driver is not required to take it. This coverage is similar to the required uninsured motorist coverage but pays for your injuries or property damage if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover your damages or medical bills.

Insurance companies in South Carolina may also offer to drivers two types of physical damage insurance: collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage pays for the physical damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with another car or an object. Comprehensive insurance pays for damages to your vehicle from other causes like flooding, fire, vandalism, theft, falling objects, or animals.

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Cheapest Car Insurance in South Carolina

Note: Due to USAA's limited membership, we excluded them from this segment evaluation.

Category

Cheapest Company

Young Adult Drivers

Geico

Married Adult Drivers

Geico

Senior Drivers

Geico

Drivers with Good Credit

Geico

Drivers with Poor Credit

Nationwide

Drivers with a Clean Record

Geico

Drivers with One Speeding Violation

Geico

Drivers with One Accident

Geico

Drivers with One DUI

State Farm

Low-mileage Drivers

Geico

High-mileage Drivers

Geico

Drivers with Low Coverage

Geico

Drivers with High Coverage

Geico

Drivers with Used Cars

Geico

Drivers with New Cars

Geico

While USAA typically has the lowest representative rates in most states, that usually happens in a state with a large concentration of active military members, veterans, and their families. In South Carolina, USAA was edged out for the lowest overall average in the U.S. News study by Geico, which had a representative rate that was about $25 cheaper than USAA's, at $1,006 to $1,033, respectively. At the other end of the range, Farmers Insurance was just $30 shy of a $2,000 annual study premium.

To find which car insurance company offers the lowest rates, our study used representative driver profiles with good credit, medium insurance coverage, and a clean driving record. Our profiles included males and females aged 25, 35, and 60 who drove 12,000 miles per year. The vehicles used in our study were the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150.

Why Car Insurance Rates Vary in South Carolina

The highest risk drivers pay the highest car insurance rates, regardless of state. The Quadrant Information Services study shows that inexperienced drivers, those in high risk areas, or those who have a history of poor driving or financial irresponsibility will pay the highest premiums. Older drivers with good credit history and good driving records pay lower rates because they are less likely to be involved in an accident. 

The South Carolina’s Department of Insurance says that each company develops its own system for rating drivers. “The single greatest influence on the rating process is claim frequency,” the office says. “Claim frequency measures how often an insured event occurs within a group relative to the number of policies contained in that group. In general, persons sharing characteristics with high claims groups will be charged more for insurance coverage.”

Beyond your rating group, other factors that affect car insurance rates are driving record, geographic territory, gender and age, marital status, prior insurance coverage, vehicle use, make and model of your vehicle, and prior insurance claims.

How to Get the Cheapest Car Insurance in South Carolina

South Carolina’s Department of Insurance says insurance discounts are awarded because the insurer sees you as a better risk. It reminds drivers to ask for discounts such as: having multiple cars on a policy; completing driver ed courses; owning a car equipped with anti-theft devices, airbags, or other safety equipment; driving fewer miles each year; maintaining an accident-free record; and insuring your car and home on the same policy. 

Additional tips offered by the state insurance office include:

  • Take the highest deductible you can afford.
  • Cross shop and compare rates.
  • Before buying a vehicle, determine the cost of insuring it.
  • For vehicles valued under $1,000, consider only carrying liability coverage.
  • Pay the premium well ahead of the due date.
  • Review your policy periodically and update accordingly.
  • When shopping and asking for quotes, always provide the same information to each company. 

Important Laws Around Auto Insurance in South Carolina

South Carolina is an at-fault state when it comes to blame in auto accidents. South Carolina operates under tort law, meaning drivers are obligated to carry liability insurance for bodily injury; liability insurance for property damage; and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. 

If you drive without insurance in South Carolina, your license and registration may be suspended. Additionally, you can be fined $5 per day until you provide proof of insurance, up to a maximum of $200. 

South Carolina Driving Laws and Punishments

A driver in South Carolina who has a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of .08% or more can be convicted of a “per se” DUI, regardless of his or her level of actual impairment. The volume of alcohol necessary to reach these BAC levels can differ depending on the person’s gender, body size, and the type of alcohol. South Carolina’s DUI statutes specify the penalties for a DUI conviction depending on the number of prior DUIs (within the last 10 years) and the driver’s BAC. Prior DUI offenses that occurred in South Carolina as well as other states are counted.

For example, a first offense includes jail time of 48 hours to 90 days and fines starting at $400 plus court costs. A third offense carries jail time of 60 days to five years with fines ranging from $3,800 to $10,000. Enrollment in the state’s Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program is also required. All drivers convicted of DUI will have their license suspended.

South Carolina is considering tougher laws that would crack down on distracted driving in the state. The State House this year is considering a bill that would ban cell phone use while driving, according to news reports in the state. The current distracted driving law prohibits texting while driving, but this new bill would make it illegal to hold a cell phone for any reason besides using a single button to start or end a phone call. According to the current law, writing a ticket for texting while driving needs to be part of a secondary offense, meaning police have to stop a driver for another violation. Drivers also have to admit guilt to texting while driving, which some critics say lets people easily avoid being cited for distracted driving.

South Carolina has what is known as an absolute speed limit law. If the sign says 40 mph and you drive 41 mph or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit.

South Carolina Car Insurance FAQs

Is Car Insurance Required in South Carolina?

Yes, bodily injury liability, property damage liability, and uninsured motorist coverage are all required in South Carolina.

Which Cars Are Required To Be Insured in South Carolina?

All registered vehicles in South Carolina are required to be insured.

When Should I Get Car Insurance in South Carolina?

Drivers are required to register vehicles with proof of minimum insurance coverage in South Carolina within 45 days of establishing residency. 

What Happens if My Car Is Not Properly Insured in South Carolina?

Penalties for driving without insurance can include fines and suspension of your registration and driver’s license. You can be charged $5 a day for each day your vehicle is uninsured up to a maximum of $200.

Is South Carolina a No-Fault state?

No, South Carolina is an at-fault state, and operates under the tort system. This means a driver will be assigned blame for causing an accident. The car insurance of the driver at fault will cover the medical and repair costs of others involved in the accident.

Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage in South Carolina?

Yes, South Carolina law requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage.

Is Liability Insurance Required in South Carolina?

Yes, South Carolina requires all drivers to carry liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage.

Does South Carolina Accept Digital Insurance Cards?

Yes, South Carolina accepts digital insurance cards.

The Best Car Insurance Companies in 2020

Our Car Insurance Ranking

  1.     USAA
  2.     Geico
  3.     Allstate
  4.     State Farm
  5.     Farmers
  6.     Progressive
  7.     American Family
  8.     Nationwide
  9.     Travelers

The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in 2020

Average Annual Rates:

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