Best car insurance in South Carolina for 2021

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Living in South Carolina can be exciting. Owning a car opens up numerous opportunities for exploration. Perhaps you should explore Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge or treat the family to a summer vacation on Hilton Head Island. Maybe you just want to decorate your ride for a tailgate party at the next Gamecocks game. But before you hit the road, you may want to make sure you have proper car insurance coverage.

South Carolina had over 4.5 million registered vehicles on its roads in 2020 and, in 2019, the most recent year with available data, there was a crash every 3.7 minutes. Traffic accidents cost the economy $4.77 billion. If you are looking for the best car insurance in South Carolina, Bankrate’s research may help you find coverage that fits your needs.

Best car insurance companies in South Carolina

Bankrate’s insurance editorial team researched the major insurance providers in South Carolina. We have assigned each company a Bankrate Score using up-to-date quoted premiums from Quadrant Information Services, third-party customer satisfaction and financial strength ratings, 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.

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
Progressive 4.1 $1,404 856 / 1,000
State Farm 4.4 $1,457 881 / 1,000
Travelers 4.6 $1,141 861 / 1,000

Auto-Owners

Auto-Owners is a regional insurance carrier available in South Carolina. Although perhaps not as well known as some of the other carriers on our list, Auto-Owners offers competitive premiums and an array of optional coverages. And you are not limited to vehicle policies — Auto-Owners also offers renters insurance and homeowners insurance, among other insurance products. When you bundle more than one policy with Auto-Owners, you may qualify for a discount on each policy.

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 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.

Progressive

What makes Progressive unique is its broad reach — 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. By downloading and installing the mobile app, you agree to let Progressive monitor your driving habits and adjust your premiums accordingly.

State Farm

In addition to excellent online and mobile tools, State Farm has local agents who can help you with one-on-one service for your personalized policy. There are also several opportunities to save with generous discounts, like up to 25% off for good students. Although State Farm’s average premium is the highest on our list, the company may be worth your consideration if you prefer to work with a local agent.

Travelers

Travelers offers the lowest average full coverage premium on our list of companies and has an extensive list of discounts for you to review. If budget is your primary concern, you may want to get a quote from Travelers. The company 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. You can add coverages like gap insurance, rental car coverage and ridesharing coverage to customize your policy to your needs.

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 in South Carolina.

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

Although premiums vary based on your individual rating factors, you may pay less for insurance in South Carolina for several reasons. Drivers in South Carolina may get into fewer accidents, file fewer claims or have fewer tickets than drivers elsewhere in the nation.

State minimum insurance requirements in South Carolina

If you live in South Carolina, you must carry at least the state-required minimum limits of car insurance coverage to drive legally. The minimum limits are:

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

While liability coverage is designed to pay for the damages and injuries you may cause if you are in an at-fault accident, uninsured motorist coverage is designed to pay for your injuries and damages if an uninsured driver hits you. You may also want to consider adding underinsured motorist coverage, which pays for your damages if the at-fault party does not have high enough coverage limits.

While purchasing minimum coverage can often get you a lower rate, you could be left with hefty out-of-pocket expenses if the damages you cause in an accident exceed your insurance limits. Most insurance professionals advise that you purchase higher limits if you can.

Minimum coverage does not include comprehensive and collision coverages, which pay for damages to your vehicle. If your lender requires you to have these coverages or simply want coverage for your vehicle, you will need to purchase full coverage.

How to get the best car insurance

The auto insurance company and coverages that you choose depend heavily on your preferences. The best car insurance company is different for everyone; your personal rating factors and preferences will affect your premium and choices. If you are shopping for auto insurance, you may want to:

  • Evaluate your needs: Everyone has different needs. Maybe you are on a strict budget and need the cheapest insurance you can find, or perhaps you need a company with a solid digital presence. Understanding your preferences and rating factors, such as your accident history and credit score, could help you choose a company that best fits your situation.
  • Consider state factors: To drive legally in South Carolina, you must have at least the state minimum levels of coverage. But there are other location-specific factors you may want to consider, like the likelihood of accidents in your area and the kinds of losses common to your city or ZIP code. Knowing that information could help you determine what coverages are right for you.

Talking to an insurance agent might help you to choose coverages. Agents are familiar with car insurance in general and may be familiar with the needs of your area specifically.

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 are:

  • Vehicle safety discounts: If your car has safety features like anti-lock brakes, side curtain airbags or an anti-theft system, you may qualify for a car insurance discount.
  • Payment discounts: If you opt to pay in full instead of monthly, you may save money on your auto insurance. You might also get a discount for using automatic withdrawal or signing up for paperless statements.
  • Safe driver discounts: If you have never had an accident, received a ticket or filed a claim, you may get a discount.
  • Multi-policy discounts: If you buy more than one type of policy from the same company, like your auto and home insurance policies, you might get a discount on both.

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 ways to save.

Frequently asked questions

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 jail time. If your license is suspended, you will likely need to obtain insurance before you can reinstate it, and your premium will likely be higher than it would be 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 there is some basic information you may want to have 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 (AM Best, S&P, Moody’s) and customer experience (J.D. Power, NAIC), in addition to average quoted rates from Quadrant Information Services. The J.D. Power studies utilized include the 2020 Auto Insurance Study and the 2020 Auto Claims Study. Our Bankrate editorial team’s extensive research and analysis provided a secondary assessment of each insurer’s online and mobile resources and policy management options, which also contributed to overall ratings.

Written by
Cate Deventer
Insurance Editor
Cate Deventer is a writer, editor and insurance professional. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional and technical writing from Indiana University East. She began writing for Bankrate in January 2021 and has nearly a decade of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance agent. Cate has worked with over a dozen insurance companies and is experienced with auto, home, flood, umbrella and life insurance.