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South Carolina car insurance laws

Charleston, South Carolina
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No matter where you’re driving in the state, South Carolina car insurance laws require drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance to drive legally. There are 3.8 million licensed drivers on South Carolina’s 78,000 miles of public road. South Carolina also has the country’s second-highest fatality rate when it comes to car crashes, further emphasizing the need for South Carolina residents to maintain a comprehensive auto insurance policy.

Car insurance laws in South Carolina

Like other states, South Carolina has clear-cut laws for drivers in order to maintain safe driving practices. South Carolina drivers are required to carry minimum liability insurance as well as both minimum uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage:

  • Bodily injury: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage: $25,000 per accident
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: $25,000 per accident with a $200 deductible
  • Underinsured motorist bodily injury: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Underinsured motorist property damage: $25,000 per accident

In addition to these minimum required coverages, South Carolina law also dictates that drivers are required to provide proof of insurance when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer.

Liability insurance in South Carolina

While these required minimums are typical of other states, it may not be enough to cover you if you are at-fault in a major accident. For instance, if it is determined you are at-fault and there are multiple cars and drivers involved in the accident, the limit of $50,000 might not be enough to cover all the medical bills, loss of income and other expenses for several people. You are responsible for the difference between your insurance limits and the amount required to cover all expenses if you do not have sufficient coverage.

Is South Carolina a no fault state?

South Carolina is considered an at-fault state. This means once a driver is determined to be at-fault, then they are responsible for the property damage and bodily injury costs associated with the accident. If the damage is greater than the driver’s insurance limits, then the other driver is able to sue the at-fault driver to recover remaining expenses, such as loss of income, medical payments and payment for pain and suffering.

Penalties for driving without insurance in South Carolina

Drivers caught without insurance coverage in South Carolina face steep penalties, including fines and potential jail time. Furthermore, South Carolina requires insurance companies to notify the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) when a policy has been canceled.

If the SCDMV does not receive proof of coverage then drivers can face license, registration and license plate suspension. It costs up to $400 for reinstatement. The same applies if an officer pulls you over and you fail to show proof of insurance, but you will also be subject to a $550 Uninsured Motorist fine.

The first offense of driving without insurance requires you to purchase an SR-22, pay up to a $200 fine (or face 30 days jail time) and have your license suspended.

The second offense is another $200 fine and mandatory prison time, and a third offense means 45 days to 6 months of jail time. All of this in addition to fines, license and registration suspension and an SR-22 requirement.

Additional auto insurance coverage options in South Carolina

Drivers in South Carolina can customize their auto insurance policy further to ensure there is sufficient coverage. Here are other options worth adding-on to round out coverage:

  • Collision: Collision insurance pays for your vehicle’s repairs if you are involved in an accident or you hit something like a tree or pole. The average cost of collision insurance in South Carolina is $303 according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
  • Comprehensive: If your car is damaged by something other than an accident, then comprehensive coverage covers the repairs. Common examples of this include theft, vandalism, fire, flooding and other water damage. In South Carolina, the average cost of comprehensive coverage is $197.24 per year, according to III.
  • Rental car reimbursement: This option is a convenient option to make it easier on you if your car is in the repair shop due to a covered accident. You are reimbursed each day for a rental car, or the insurance carrier can bill directly to the rental car company under certain circumstances.
  • Roadside assistance: Roadside assistance is a useful option when your car is inoperable. This assistance provides help if you need towing, fuel delivery, battery recharge or replacement, etc.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company in South Carolina?

The best car insurance is based on numerous factors. Look at a carrier’s financial stability ratings, customer service reviews, rates, discounts and digital assets to find one that meets your needs. Bankrate has reviewed multiple companies in South Carolina and finds Alfa Insurance and Allstate score high marks.

What is the cheapest car insurance company in South Carolina?

South Carolina has many affordable options for auto insurance. Bankrate reviewed several and found Geico and Allstate offer the least expensive rates for South Carolinians. Minimum coverage averages $357 per year for minimum coverage and $1,063 for full coverage with Geico. Your specific rate depends on several factors, including location, credit score, vehicle, age and other factors.

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,, and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.