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Best cheap car insurance in Columbia

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Drivers in Columbia, South Carolina are required to carry auto insurance, so for many drivers, finding the best cheap car insurance is important. Drivers in Columbia pay an average of $605 per year for minimum coverage and $1,547 per year for full coverage, which is similar to the national average cost of car insurance.

Car insurance premiums are based on a number of different factors, like your age, ZIP code, credit score and driving history, and the car insurance company you choose can also have a big impact on your premium. So, if you are in the market for affordable car insurance, it’s important to choose the right provider. To help on your journey, Bankrate reviewed some of the largest providers and used Quadrant Information Services data to find the best cheap car insurance companies in South Carolina.

Best car insurance companies in Columbia

Using Quadrant Information Services, Bankrate acquired the average annual premiums for minimum coverage and full coverage for insurance providers in Columbia. To find the best car insurance companies, we also analyzed customer service ratings, coverage offerings, discount options and financial strength to determine which carriers qualify as the best.

Insurance company J.D. Power score
(Southeast region)
Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
Geico 843 / 1,000 $401 $1,129
Auto-Owners 849 / 1,000 $458 $1,351
Allstate 838 / 1,000 $469 $1,409
Travelers 831 / 1,000 $503 $1,218

Quadrant Information Services, 2020

Geico

Geico offers competitive auto insurance rates and has the lowest rates among the carriers reviewed. While Geico does not offer as many specialty coverage options as some of the carriers on this list, it does offer numerous digital tools. The mobile app and user-friendly website are available for customers to manage their policies. From within the app, you can request roadside assistance and even submit photos of vehicle damage to get an estimate.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

Auto-Owners

Auto-Owners operates in 26 states, including South Carolina. The company’s A++ rating from AM Best demonstrates that it is financially stable. Auto-Owners is known for exceptional customer service ratings too, with a score of 849 out of 1,000 in the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Auto-Owners offers numerous coverage options, and you can work with one of the many agents throughout the network to determine the coverages that are best for you.

Learn more: Auto-Owners Insurance review

Allstate

Allstate offers an extensive amount of auto insurance coverage options, including roadside assistance and sound equipment coverage. Also offered is a deductible rewards program, which lowers your deductible by $100 just for signing up and then by an additional $100 for every year you remain accident free, up to $500. Allstate also has a generous number of discounts available, including those for students who get good grades and policyholders who own new cars. However, the company received a slightly below-industry-average score from J.D. Power.

Learn more: Allstate Insurance review

Travelers

Travelers is another financially strong carrier offering a wide range of coverage options. Equally impressive are the number of discounts drivers in Columbia have access to. While some discounts are standard, such as multi-policy and good student, Travelers offers several unique ways to save. For instance, you can often save money by simply paying your premiums on time or if you happen to own a home or condo, you may qualify for a lower rate — even if the home or condo is not insured with Travelers.

Learn more: Travelers Insurance review

Cheapest car insurance in Columbia

On average, drivers in South Carolina pay $558 per year for minimum coverage and $1,512 per year for full coverage. On the other hand, drivers in Columbia pay slightly higher average premiums, with minimum coverage costing $605 annually and full coverage costing $1,547 annually. For comparison, the national average cost of car insurance is $480 per year for minimum coverage and $1,655 per year for full coverage.

To find the cheapest car insurance companies in Columbia, Bankrate analyzed premium data from the 25 largest companies by market share in the area. Geico, Auto-Owners, Allstate, Travelers and USAA offer the cheapest rates in Columbia.

Insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
Geico $401 $1,129
Auto-Owners $458 $1,351
Allstate $469 $1,409
Travelers $503 $1,218
USAA $507 $1,409

Drivers in Columbia who are looking for the cheapest auto insurance may want to obtain quotes from multiple insurance providers, since rates and coverage offerings vary among companies. Comparing quotes is often one of the best ways to find the coverage you are seeking at the lowest price.

However, bear in mind that premium is only one aspect of insurance. It may be a good idea to consider a company’s customer service ratings, financial strength, coverage options and available discounts before making your choice.

Columbia insurance requirements

Drivers in Columbia are required to carry a minimum level of several auto insurance coverages. The minimum limits in South Carolina are:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 property damage
  • $25,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 uninsured motorist property damage

Insurance companies must also offer you underinsured motorist coverage, which will help to pay your bodily injury bills if the driver who hit you does not have enough insurance to cover the full cost. While insurance companies must offer you this coverage, you can decline it.

Carrying only the minimum levels of coverage could leave you vulnerable if you cause an accident. If the price of the injuries and damage that you cause exceeds your insurance amount, you will have to pay the difference out of pocket. Most insurance professionals recommend liability coverage in excess of the state minimum limits to provide a greater level of financial protection in the event of an accident.

You may also want to consider purchasing full coverage insurance to provide coverage for damage to your vehicle. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, your lender will very likely require you to carry full coverage insurance, which includes collision insurance, comprehensive insurance and medical payments coverage.

Car insurance discounts in Columbia

Although drivers in Columbia pay close to the national average rates for car insurance, you can still take advantage of discounts to lower your premium. While each insurance company offers different discounts, some common options in Columbia are:

  • Good grades: If you get good grades, or if you insure a student on your policy who gets good grades, you may qualify for a discount on your premiums.
  • Paid-in-full: If you can afford to pay your annual insurance premium in full, many carriers will give you an insurance discount.
  • Multi-policy: One of the best ways to save on car insurance premiums is to bundle your auto insurance policy with the same carrier you use for your homeowners, condo owners or renters insurance policy.
  • Claims-free: Many carriers offer a car insurance discount if you do not have any accidents on your record for several years in a row.
  • Safety equipment: If your car is equipped with safety equipment features, such as airbags, anti-lock brakes or an anti-theft system, you may be eligible for an additional insurance discount.

If you are unsure what discounts you qualify for, call your agent or your insurance company’s customer service department and review your policy. You may discover additional ways to save.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

There is not one specific best car insurance company that fits for every driver, no matter where you live. Every driver has different car insurance needs, and therefore, the best provider for you might not be the best provider for another driver. To find the best car insurance company for your needs, consider what you value, like good customer service, easy claim handling or affordable rates. Shop around and look for providers that offer what you are looking for, and then get quotes and compare them to find the most affordable option.

How much does car insurance in Columbia cost?

The average cost of car insurance in Columbia is $605 annually for minimum coverage and $1,547 annually for full coverage. However, the price you pay will vary based on numerous personal factors, including your age, gender, zip code, the type of insurance you choose and even your credit score. Receiving multiple quotes is one of the best ways to find the most competitive premium for your specific situation.

Can you switch car insurance companies to get a lower rate?

If you feel that you are paying too much for car insurance, you are allowed to change providers. In fact, it’s a good idea to shop around for new car insurance quotes at least once per year, or after a major claim, an accident or a change in your driving record. Most insurance companies let you cancel your policy and switch at any time, although some providers may charge a cancellation fee.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our sample drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should be used for comparative purposes only. Your quotes may be different.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Former Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman is a former insurance contributor at Bankrate. She has a couple of years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.
Edited by
Insurance Editor