What to do after a hit and run in South Carolina

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About 10% of drivers in South Carolina are driving uninsured, which may contribute to the overall hit-and-run incidents throughout the Palmetto State. For drivers involved in a hit-and-run accident in South Carolina, annual full coverage car insurance rates increase 41% on average, from $1,512 to $2,125, according to 2021 data obtained from Quadrant Information Services.

Bankrate has reviewed South Carolina’s hit-and-run laws and the impact hit-and-runs can have on your auto insurance premiums to help you prepare if you ever find yourself in this situation.

Hit-and-runs in South Carolina

An accident is considered a hit-and-run when the at-fault driver flees the scene. Not only is this illegal in South Carolina, but if caught, the penalties include steep fines, jail time and a possible felony conviction. In 2019, South Carolina recorded 3,836 hit-and-run accidents out of all the reported ~141,000 collisions, or about 2.7% of the accidents.

South Carolina hit-and-run laws

South Carolina hit-and-run laws mandate a driver must immediately stop when involved in an accident. Not stopping is considered a hit-and-run and comes with steep penalties. The severity of the penalties depends on the seriousness of the injuries and property damage:

  • With minimal bodily injury: The penalty for a hit-and-run is a misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $5,000 and between 30 days and one year in jail. If a greater bodily injury occurs, the misdemeanor becomes a felony.
  • If a hit-and-run results in a death: The penalty is a felony, and the at-fault driver can be imprisoned for between one and 25 years. There is also a fine of up to $25,000.

How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in South Carolina

A hit-and-run accident will impact your current premiums, especially if you are the one determined to be at-fault. Before a hit-and-run, the average annual cost of insurance in South Carolina is $1,512 per year for full coverage, but afterwards rates are as high as $2,925. You may also be dropped from your current insurance carrier if you are found to be too high-risk, which could lead to having to purchase new insurance. It’s also possible you may be required to file an SR-22 form verifying you have the state-mandated minimum auto insurance coverage.

Average annual full coverage car insurance premiums before and after a hit-and-run accident
Before a hit-and-run After a hit-and-run After a standard accident
South Carolina average $1,512 $2,925 $2,125
National average $1,674 $3,367 $2,405

Four things to do after a hit-and-run in South Carolina

Being involved in a hit-and-run accident is a stressful situation. The priority is to make sure you and your passengers are ok and seek medical attention immediately if needed. If you are able, make as many observations as you can to recall important information later. If you are involved in a hit-and-run in South Carolina, here are the first four steps you should consider:

  • Get medical attention: First, evaluate everyone’s safety and determine if there are any injuries to you or your passengers. Getting medical attention may be a smart idea, even if you feel fine at the moment.
  • Quickly gather details: If you are able, try to observe any details about who might have hit your vehicle, especially a license plate, make and model of the vehicle and other facts. Write down anything you observe, so you have the information available later on.
  • Report the accident: It’s critical to call the police and report the accident right away. This will start the process for an accident report, which is needed when you file an insurance claim.
  • Take photos and videos: Without interfering with the police investigation, try to take as many photos as you can and record the conditions surrounding the accident. This may be used later on by the insurance company as part of the claim.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

If you are the victim of a hit-and-run in South Carolina, your own auto insurance policy may provide financial relief from some of the expenses related to the accident, depending on the coverage options you have on your policy.

  • Collision coverage: Collision pays for repair or replacement of your vehicle if your vehicle was damaged due to an accident, up to your policy limits.
  • Uninsured motorist: This coverage pays for medical expenses incurred from an accident for both you and your passengers if the at-fault driver does not have insurance. South Carolina requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage equal to the liability limits (25/50/25) and a minimum of a $200 deductible.

Frequently asked questions

How much does car insurance cost?

The national average for auto insurance rates is $1,674 per year for a full coverage policy. However, rates are based on customized policies and personal data, such as age and driving history. This means your exact rate may be higher or lower than the national average.

What is the minimum insurance required to drive in South Carolina?

South Carolina requires drivers to purchase 25/50/25 of liability insurance, which is $25,000 per person for bodily injury liability, $50,000 per accident and $25,000 property damage liability per accident. Additionally, drivers in South Carolina are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage, equivalent to their liability coverage limits. Underinsured motorist coverage must be offered but can be declined in writing. Drivers who prefer not to carry car insurance can use bonds, cash and securities to serve as self-insurance to satisfy the law.

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 base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman has three years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, 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.
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Insurance Editor