Best car insurance in South Carolina in 2021

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South Carolina has an abundance of auto insurers, among the best of which include Auto-Owners and Geico according to Bankrate’s extensive research into available coverage.

Although South Carolina drivers pay $1,512 per year on average for full coverage on average based on Bankrate’s review of quoted annual premiums, a policy from one of the providers on our list may come in cheaper. Plus, these companies also provide a range of options for coverage — whether you prefer basic coverage or want a selection of several endorsements.

While every driver’s needs are unique, most want to ensure that they at least have coverage for injuries and property damage so they are not left solely responsible for liability expenses. This may be especially important for drivers in South Carolina, where the frequency and unexpected nature of collisions and other vehicle-related events in the state can come with hefty costs if you aren’t adequately insured. To ensure every motorist knows the top options available to them, Bankrate reviewed and compared the best car insurance companies in South Carolina to narrow down the search.

Best car insurance companies in South Carolina

Bankrate’s insurance editorial team researched the major insurance providers in South Carolina by market share to determine that Auto-Owners, Geico, Travelers, State Farm, and Progressive are among the best. In our review, each company was assigned a Bankrate Score that takes into account up-to-date quoted premiums from Quadrant Information Services, third-party customer satisfaction and financial strength ratings from sources like the 2020 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Study, AM Best, S&P and Moody’s, available coverages and discounts. The Scores are on a 5.0 scale; the higher the rating, the higher a company ranked in the individual rating categories.

Each of the car insurance companies on our list earns a Bankrate Score of above 4.0, making them highly competitive in the market amongst key aspects that impact policyholders’ experience. Additionally, although price is only one factor of choosing a company, each company offers comprehensive policies at premiums below the state average. If you are shopping for the best auto insurance in South Carolina, the following companies may be a good place to start:

Provider Bankrate Score Average annual full coverage premium J.D. Power auto claims satisfaction score
Auto-Owners 4.6 $1,342 890/1,000
Geico 4.6 $1,203 871/1,000
Travelers 4.6 $1,141 861/1,000
State Farm 4.4 $1,457 881/1,000
Progressive 4.1 $1,404 856/1,000

Auto-Owners

Auto-Owners is a regional insurance carrier available in South Carolina. It is the highest ranking insurer for customer satisfaction on our list and the third-highest ranking insurer in claims satisfaction overall. While the company is not available nationwide, it does rank highly across all the regions it serves, as shown through its consistent above-average placement in the 2021 J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study. And along with high-quality localized coverage, there are unique endorsements such as purchase price guarantee to cover your vehicle at its value before depreciation and Auto-Owners’ optional coverage package, which includes more than 10 add-ons, including cell phone replacement.

Learn more: Auto-Owners Insurance review

Geico

Geico may be a good choice for South Carolina drivers on a budget. You can estimate your payments and how much car insurance you can afford using the insurers coverage calculator. Although Geico’s average premiums are already the second lowest on our list, the company offers a long list of discounts, including savings for insuring multiple vehicles, customer loyalty, good students and federal employees. While the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) records a complaint index of 1.7 for Geico compared to the industry average of 1.0 (meaning Geico receives more complaints than average) Geico does score considerably better for its private passenger auto insurance at a score of .79.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

State Farm

In addition to excellent online and mobile tools, State Farm has local agents in South Carolina who can help you with one-on-one service for your personalized policy. Although the company’s average premium is the highest on our list, the benefit of having agents in 55 South Carolina cities may make State Farm’s insurance policies extremely accessible and a standout option for those who prefer developing trust with their insurance agent on a face-to-face level. There are also several opportunities to save with generous discounts, like up to 25% off for good students.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

Travelers

Travelers offers the cheapest average full coverage premium on our list of companies, while still managing to tie for the highest Bankrate Score of our selected providers. The insurer’s high performance in financial strength, shown by its A++ (Superior) AM Best rating, speaks to its ability to sustain reliable coverage despite its lower-than-average cost. Travelers did receive a below-average score from J.D. Power in auto claims satisfaction, but may be appealing to customers looking for numerous optional coverages and an extensive list of discounts. If budget or custom coverage are your primary concern, an agent can give you a specific quote for your circumstances. You can add coverages like gap insurance, rental car coverage and ridesharing coverage to personalize your policy to your needs.

Learn more: Travelers Insurance review

Progressive

Progressive is unique in that the insurance carrier is often willing to take on drivers that other companies may consider high-risk. Policyholders can sign up for the Snapshot program to learn safer driving habits and save on their insurance. For South Carolina drivers making a carrier switch, Progressive may be particularly appealing as it allows you to see just how much of a discount you could earn with safe driving — without having to commit to a policy — through its Snapshot Road Test. While the company ranks below-average for auto claims satisfaction, it may still be a popular choice for those with a budget. You could use its Name Your Price to really nail down which coverages fit your finances to ensure Progressive is the right choice for you.

Learn more: Progressive Insurance review

Average car insurance cost in South Carolina

When it comes to car insurance, South Carolina drivers tend to pay less than drivers nationally. While South Carolina drivers pay, on average, $1,512 annually for full coverage, the average cost of full coverage car insurance in the U.S. is $1,674 per year. However, minimum coverage in South Carolina is roughly about the same cost as the rest of the country. The national annual average for minimum coverage is $565, compared to $558 a year in South Carolina. The state’s lower average annual premiums for full coverage may be due in part to its more rural setting, decreasing the chance of incidents from congested traffic.

Average annual premium for minimum coverage in South Carolina Average annual premium for full coverage in South Carolina
$558 $1,512

Quadrant Information Services provides us with up-to-date quoted premiums as of 2021, providing a more accurate point of comparison when collecting quotes for yourself. However, exact rates may see variance depending on the provider and your driver profile.

How to find the best car insurance in South Carolina

Every driver is different depending on their record, road experience and financial situation, meaning the process for finding the best car insurance in South Carolina may look different for each person. However, the following steps can be used as guidance along your insurance buying journey.

Consider minimum insurance requirements in South Carolina

Because South Carolina’s car insurance laws follow that of an at-fault state, there are a few minimum requirements for liability insurance. These limits make inclusions for bodily injury and property damage. Additionally, drivers must carry uninsured motorist coverage, which kicks in for accidents that involve an at-fault driver who lacks coverage. While underinsured motorist coverage must also be offered, it is not mandatory and can be declined in writing.

Consider lender requirements

Full coverage is optional, though many South Carolina motorists may find it essential, as it is the only coverage type that offers financial protection for damage to your vehicle. For this reason, cars that are leased or financed typically require collision and comprehensive coverages to avoid a loss on the loan should the car be damaged or deemed a total loss. Similarly, drivers may prefer to purchase gap insurance to cover the gap between an insurance payout and the outstanding balance on a loan for a newer financed vehicle, in the event it is totaled or stolen.

Consider your individual needs

Any aspects or behaviors that can be considered “risky” have the potential to affect insurance premiums. Some common high-risk insurance factors include adding a teen driver to your policy and insuring someone with driving violations, such as a ticket or DUI. Each factor is weighed differently depending on the provider, but if any high-risk scenarios impact you, it is generally a good idea to scope out insurers that are known to provide coverage for these driving profiles.

For example, some insurers excel in their student discount offerings, while others may raise premiums for violations at a lower rate or have options like accident forgiveness. It helps to be aware of your driving record when gathering quotes to obtain the best comparison.

Car insurance discounts in South Carolina

Although auto insurance rates in South Carolina are generally lower than they are in the county as a whole, you may be able to save additional money by utilizing discounts. Although every company offers different discounts, some common ones in South Carolina relate to driving habits and policy management. Some discounts you may want to see if you qualify for include:

  • Young driver discounts: Drivers under 25 may qualify for several discounts, including good student discounts, distant student discounts and teen driver discounts.
  • Safe driver discounts: If you have never had an accident, received a ticket or filed a claim, you may get a discount. Other safe driving discounts may be offered for programs that track your safe driving habits, even if you don’t have a spotless driving record.
  • Other discounts: If you buy more than one type of policy from the same company, you might get a discount on both. Oftentimes, auto and home insurance policy bundles offer the most significant savings. You might also save if you opt to pay in full instead of monthly, or if you sign up for automatic withdrawals or paperless statements.

Auto insurance discounts are common, but each company has its own regulations and qualifications. Talking to a representative from your insurance company or reviewing discounts online could help you find which opportunities you have to save.

Frequently asked questions

What is the cheapest car insurance company in South Carolina?

On average, we found Geico, Auto-Owners and Allstate to be some of the largest and cheapest car insurance companies in South Carolina. However, collecting quotes from additional carriers will help you see which insurer offers the best rate for your unique situation. In some instances, a local provider may prove to offer the dedicated coverage you need while a larger insurer may be able to offer more substantial discounts.

What happens if I drive without insurance in South Carolina?

Driving without insurance is risky and can result in serious consequences. If you are found to be driving without insurance, regardless if you caused an accident or not, you could be facing fines, license suspension and even imprisonment in some cases. If your license is suspended, you will likely need to obtain insurance before you can reinstate it, and your premium may be higher than if you did not have a lapse in coverage. If you cause an accident, you will be responsible for paying for the damages and injuries you caused out of pocket.

What information do I need to get an insurance quote?

Getting auto insurance quotes is relatively easy, but you may want to have some basic information on hand. You will likely need the names, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers for all the drivers that you want to include on the quote. You will also need the year, make and model of the vehicles you wish to insure, as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN). If you have a current insurance policy, this information may be on your declaration page. Knowing what coverages you want to purchase can be helpful, but you can also likely get quotes for a few different levels of coverage to compare them.

Do I have to have full coverage in South Carolina?

Full coverage, which includes comprehensive and collision coverages, is not legally required in South Carolina. You may still want to purchase full coverage if you have a newer vehicle, an expensive vehicle, or if you do not have the funds available to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged. If you have a loan or lease, your lender will likely require you to buy full coverage because the vehicle is still their asset to protect.

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.

Bankrate Scores

Bankrate Scores primarily reflect a weighted rank of industry-standard ratings for financial strength and customer experience in addition to analysis of quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services, spanning all 50 states and Washington, D.C. We know it is important for drivers to be confident their financial protection covers the likeliest risks, is priced competitively and is provided by a financially-sound company with a history of positive customer support.

To determine how well the best car insurance companies satisfy these priorities, third-party agency ratings from J.D. Power, AM Best, S&P, NAIC, and Moodys had the most impact on the companies’ Bankrate Scores. As price is a common consideration for drivers, we analyzed quoted premiums based on 40-year-old male and female drivers with a 2019 Toyota Camry. This profile, assessed across more than 35,000 ZIP codes in the U.S., provided a basis on which drivers may compare each provider.

While coverage options, insurer availability, affordability and customer experience are often the top priorities, Bankrate also analyzed each insurer’s online and mobile resources for policy management and claims handling. Insurance is rapidly evolving to keep pace with our digital world, so these aspects also carried weight in determining Bankrate Scores.

Written by
Mariah Posey
Insurance Editor
Mariah Posey is an insurance writer and editor for Bankrate.com specializing in auto and home insurance. She aims to make the insurance journey as convenient as possible by keeping the reader at the forefront of her mind in her work. With a background in reporting and feature writing, she has a knack for conducting research, writing factually while incorporating compelling details, and prioritizing story intent. Mariah is originally from New Jersey and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Elon University. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a copyeditor and writing consultant at her alma mater. She has covered topics ranging from news to tech and lifestyle and has a vested interest in producing engaging content for audiences.
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